If it seems like more travel and hospitality customers are cranky lately, you’re right — at least, according to this Wall Street Journal article quoting employees in the hospitality industry. Likely due to renewed gloom from the COVID-19 Delta variant following the optimism from spring vaccinations, temper tantrums from unruly travelers are happening more frequently. Even companies that track consumer behavior are observing unusually high levels of crankiness and dissatisfaction. In fact, customer satisfaction is at its lowest level since 2005, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which tracks the behavior of 300,000 consumers across 46 industries, including travel and hospitality.

This topic has also come up during several of Women Leading Travel & Hospitality’s recent member peer calls. Heightened customer expectations, increasingly negative and violent guest interactions, and challenges when enforcing lingering regulations from the COVID-19 pandemic are creating a more volatile workplace for frontline staff. This guest behavior is especially hard for travel and hospitality employees, who are wired to please customers. In fact, our members believe that negative customer behavior and its relation to employee well-being is a new and pressing issue for the entire travel and hospitality industry.

So what can leaders in the travel and hospitality industry do to ensure that their employees are well cared for during this difficult time?

To come up with some solutions, we gathered a panel of industry executives to have a video discussion around how they’re managing customers and caring for employees as guest behavior rapidly changes.  Speakers included:

  • Lisa Oswald, Senior Vice President and Global Head of Customer Service, Travelzoo (and member, Women Leading Travel & Hospitality)
  • Talia Castellanos, Customer Service Recovery and Contact Centers Planning and Operations, American Airlines (and member, Women Leading Travel & Hospitality)
  • Karin Kopano, Managing Director, Hard Rock International
  • Helen Horsham-Bertels, Principal, Bago Consulting (and member, Women Leading Travel & Hospitality) (Moderator)

The panelists discussed their perspectives on the current state of the travel and hospitality industry; how customer communication has had to evolve to keep up with an ever-changing landscape; how they’re prioritizing employee well-being, training and retention; how companies can do more to support and keep the trust of frontline workers as they face new challenges; their advice to other travel and hospitality industry leaders navigating these issues; and much more. We’d love for you to check out the video here. You can register and view at your convenience. Members can view without registering.

We hope you enjoy it and get some helpful advice as well.