The upcoming Customer Experience Exchange for Travel & Hospitality has offered up unique insights into the future of the industry through a series of exclusive interviews with senior leaders from across the sector.

Accor’s SVP of Global Guest Experience & Business Performance (Luxury Brands), Three Ireland’s Head of Transformation, Founder of smith+co, Operations Director of Saga Cruises, and Jericho’s MD shared their knowledge and expertise on customer experience within the space.

One of the key questions asked within the interviews related to emerging trends through to 2020 in travel and hospitality. Accor’s Geoffray Maugin said “The best brands will be the ones who will be able to, according to their values, find the right balance in order to give the best experience to their guest”. Maugin, who has an extensive background in senior marketing roles within the hotel sector, played a pivotal role in the year-on-year increase of the firm’s Novotel Guest Satisfaction score within the European market.

Whilst not a part of the travel and hospitality industry, Three Ireland’s Justin Conry, highlighted the role that AI & robotics has to play in aligning employee experience and customer experience. One of Justin’s main focuses at Three Ireland is championing their digital chat and self care software, therefore a growing expert on how artificial intelligence is transforming the way businesses tackle customer experience. Something that is on the radar for many CX leaders within travel and hospitality.

Shaun Smith, Founder of smith+co summarized key trends as “…two contrasting drivers in society. One is the one towards automation, and the other one is the drive towards being more humanistic.” Smith goes on to say that “What we’re going to see are these two things coming together. What that means is that we love automation because it takes friction out of the way that we live our lives; it makes it hassle-free and easier to do things. The humanistic part of it is that increasingly, we’re looking for experiences which are much more personalized, which are much more bespoke, which are much more relevant to us.” Smith has been an advocate of customer experience for decades, founding his consultancy, smith+co 17 years ago where they specialize in helping organizations define, design and deliver outstanding customer experiences.

The final interviewee, Horst Pint of Saga Cruises, emphasized the level of consumer choice in travel, particularly around hospitality packages, coming from a cruise background. “I strongly believe that customers have more choice now and the digital world is really exploding from online bookings or extreme fast booking, cruise lines for example going all inclusive, more product, better product, a huge variety of products.” With 21 years of experience at Saga, Horst has been at the center of a company which encompasses customer experience at the heart of the holiday cruise package.

To hear what the rest of these key influencers had to say on the topic of emerging trends, plus the rest of this in-depth piece, click here.

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