How Travel Companies Can Use Messaging Apps to Turn Support Tickets into Profit

man at the airport holding iphone messaging with his airline for a flight change

Live by these eight words and good things are bound to follow: every interaction with a customer is an opportunity.

Now imagine this: you're rushing to catch a flight, juggling bags and boarding passes when you receive a WhatsApp message from your airline. It’s not just a notification about boarding times—it’s an opportunity to upgrade your seat or add extra luggage with just a few taps. It’s a chance to handle tasks you were hoping to address at the help desk—if you made it in time.

What once was a stressful situation has become a seamless upsell, transforming your travel experience.

Spoiler alert

Upselling with messaging and chat is both achievable and efficient if executed properly. 

Customers prefer communicating through popular messaging channels like WhatsApp, where a staggering 140 billion messages are exchanged daily. They don't want to endure 20 minutes of hold music, and they certainly don't want to download another app—91% of consumers find this frustrating.

Upselling isn’t just about revenue generation. It’s about helping your customers recognise and receive the care they deserve and desire.

If we can all agree that it’s in everyone’s best interest to deflect call centre traffic, provide a streamlined customer experience, and find opportunities for upselling along the way, then let’s continue.

The opportunity in every interaction

Airlines and travel companies are constantly looking for ways to improve the passenger experience while also boosting their bottom line. One of the most effective strategies is leveraging messaging platforms like WhatsApp to transform routine customer interactions into profitable opportunities. This approach not only improves customer satisfaction but also opens up new revenue streams.

Consider the everyday scenarios: a passenger needs to change their flight, add a bag, or upgrade their seat. Traditionally, these requests involve time-consuming calls to customer support, resulting in high operational costs and often, frustrated customers. 

Conversational app in whatsapp airline upselling use case adding a bag

Not only are you losing out on an opportunity to connect with a customer, but you’re often losing the customer entirely. Over half of consumers dismiss a business transaction or inquiry when encountering an IVR (interactive voice response) system. Even more concerning, 89 percent of those individuals ended up making their purchase with a competitor.

But what if we could avoid traditional channels like phone and email for customer interactions, and instead automate and monetise them through messaging and chat?

The power of messaging apps

Messaging apps like WhatsApp offer a unique combination of convenience and efficiency. Unlike traditional channels, messaging provides asynchronous, personal communication that fits seamlessly into the lives of modern travellers. 

It's no surprise that messaging support in the airline industry has the highest satisfaction levels, with 75% of passengers below the age of 44 preferring it over email and phone.

This high level of satisfaction isn't just about speed and convenience. It's also about the emotional connection. 

When passengers feel that their airline is responsive and attentive, they're more likely to recommend it to others. In fact, 86% of customers are more likely to advocate for an airline that makes them feel positively about their experience.

The travel and tourism industry is particularly well-suited to leverage messaging apps for customer interactions, whether car rentals, trains, or hotels. For instance, hotels have seen significant benefits from incorporating messaging into their customer service strategies. 

Consumers switch to companies that offer messaging as a communication channel, finding it improves their experiences and provides a convenient alternative to face-to-face interactions.

For example, Marriott International’s "Anything Else" mobile messaging service allows customers to chat directly with hotel associates, mirroring similar services offered by InterContinental Hotels Group and Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts. These services enable personalised and contextualised communication, fostering better customer relationships before, during, and after a stay.

data showcasing the power of messaging apps

Turning support into sales

Now, let's talk about the real magic: transforming support tickets into upsells. 

Conversational apps are driving the single largest change in business today.

Like phone apps, conversational apps provide a variety of experiences. Rather than being standalone applications, conversational apps operate within messaging platforms like WhatsApp, Messenger, and Telegram. 

With these apps, airlines and other travel businesses can automate beyond what was previously thought possible.

Automation of complex use cases like adding a bag, changing a flight, and ancillary sales can decrease call centre volumes almost to half. This approach helps cut costs while simultaneously creating seamless upsell opportunities throughout the customer journey.

Imagine receiving a message about a flight delay. Instead of just an update, the message offers you the chance to relax in the lounge for a small fee, upgrade your seat for more comfort, or add a meal to your booking. These upsell options are presented in a user-friendly, automated format that makes it easy for passengers to improve their travel experience.

Hotels can use messaging to handle pre-arrival and post-stay communications, offering opportunities for customisation and upselling. This targeted approach can maximise engagement and satisfaction, leading to higher chances of repeat business and positive word-of-mouth.

By leveraging the power of messaging apps, travel companies can turn every support interaction into a potential upsell, enhancing both customer satisfaction and revenue.

Introducing Hubtype's Smart Intents

Incorporating AI into customer interactions offers transformative efficiency—but it comes with challenges. One significant concern is the risk of misinformation, as seen in recent incidents with AI-powered chatbots. Hubtype’s Smart Intents addresses this issue head-on, ensuring that customer interactions are both accurate and efficient.

Smart Intents is a powerful conversational model designed to detect customer intent with precision, using advanced Large Language Models (LLMs)

Unlike traditional AI chatbots, Smart Intents eliminates the risk of misinformation by keeping you in control of the responses. This means there’s zero risk of chatbots providing false information, a critical feature that sets Smart Intents apart, especially in light of issues like those faced by Air Canada.

With Smart Intents, airlines can automate a wide range of interactions, from simple inquiries to complex requests, without sacrificing accuracy. This capability improves customer satisfaction and also opens up new opportunities for upselling. 

By accurately interpreting customer needs and offering relevant upsell options, Smart Intents helps airlines turn every interaction into a potential revenue opportunity.

Real-world success stories

Airlines like EasyJet, Wizz Air, and Air Europa are at the forefront of transforming customer interactions through advanced messaging strategies. By integrating automated upsells for flight changes, seat upgrades, and luggage adjustments into their customer support systems, these airlines are exploring new ways to improve customer satisfaction and generate additional revenue.

Utilising the power of conversational apps with Hubtype, they are discovering how to turn what used to be costly support tickets into seamless upsell opportunities, achieving substantial savings and a more satisfied customer base.

A prominent airline executive recently highlighted the potential of WhatsApp for enhancing the customer journey, saying:

“We are exploring how we can enhance the entire customer journey—from booking to pre-travel, departure, pre-flight, in-flight, and post-flight. We aim to determine the different communications needed for information, notifications, confirmations, and opportunities for upselling and cross-selling, such as adding baggage and meals.”

This sentiment reflects the broader trend in the travel industry towards leveraging messaging apps for comprehensive customer engagement.

A prominent airline executive recently highlighted the potential of WhatsApp for enhancing the customer journey, saying:

Is Your Airline Prepared for the Future of Communication?

The future of airline communication is here, and it’s completely changing the way airlines interact with their passengers. By leveraging the power of messaging and chat, airlines can turn every support interaction into a potential upsell, improving both customer satisfaction and revenue.

Imagine a world where every passenger receives timely, personalised service that not only resolves their issues but also improves their travel experience. This is the promise of modern messaging solutions. 

Don’t let outdated communication methods hold you back. Embrace the future of messaging and chat and see how your interactions with travellers can turn support tickets into upsell opportunities, ensuring a better experience for your passengers and a more profitable operation for your business.

Your journey to better communication and higher revenue starts now. Are you ready to take off?

Discover more.

The State of Messaging in Airlines