Just like in 2020, the Travel and Hotels sector ended up in the lower bottom of the ranking, although there has been a slight improvement in all six pillars compared to 2020, with price-performance ratio and customer loyalty taking the top spots among individual metrics.
The sector scored the lowest in the resolution pillar, which makes sense considering the type of services it provides; many customers are more anxious when they travel, which makes them more sensitive to issues in general. However, a brand that can handle an unpleasant experience well will make a much stronger impression as a result.
With the covid pandemic on the rise, the resolution pillar became a key factor in customer experience for the hotels and travel sector. The ranking within the sector was heavily influenced by how individual companies responded to the pandemic and the related measures, since for great many customers, the only interactions they experienced revolved around cancellations, refunds, and requests to reschedule.
The sector is also facing a new, albeit most likely a temporary challenge: the lack of workforce, with many hospitality employees finding new jobs during the peak of the crisis and being reluctant to return to the sector, a phenomenon that can significantly affect the service quality.
Many new trends emerged in the travel sector in 2021. More and more, people prefer to travel on their own, choosing destinations that are closer to their homes, with a growing preference for holidays in the countryside. They also expect minimal or zero cancellation fees and perfect hygiene (like contactless check-in). The pandemic also led to a quick spread of various technology, like hybrid conference formats or a boom of contactless payments. Environmental and social sustainability of vacation destinations are also becoming increasingly important to many tourists.
Booking.com still remains the sector’s leader, with customers highlighting ease of navigation, plentiful information, simplicity of the booking and cancellation processes, and the company’s reliability. The company also has a loyalty program for its customers called Genius, offering perks like 10% discounts or free breakfast with their stay.
Furthermore, customers can now book accommodation with Booking.com without having to use their website – instead, they can use two Czech portals, Firmy.cz and Mapy.cz, with over 1.6 million hotels, apartments or guest houses displayed directly in the maps now, complete with pictures and reviews.
The sector’s silver medal goes to RegioJet, a company whose long-term goal is to bring higher standards to train travel in Czechia, offering services able to match those of the airlines in terms of quality. RegioJet considers great price, amazing customer service, cleanliness and safety, and a friendly and helpful approach to be their four key values. In the summer of 2020, the company introduced a train line connecting Prague to Rijeka and Split in Croatia. In 2021, the company had to significantly increase the number of trains on the line and launch it in late May already. Still, the demand was so high the company had to add bus lines as well to accommodate all their customers.
The company is often commended for the comfort of their trains and buses, and many customers also note that it is one of the few companies to offer on-board entertainment to its customers. Simple booking process, option to change or cancel the booking, and friendly staff ready to assist in case of trouble are also mentioned in the list of positives.
Flixbus, Europe’s largest intercity bus carrier, made the biggest move up the sector’s ladder in 2021, climbing two spots and taking the fourth place right behind Invia.cz.
The company’s customers can choose from over 200 destinations worldwide, and the company is now even competing with RegioJet, having introduced lines to Slovakia and Croatia in 2020. Regardless of the difficult times, the brand sticks to its goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2030, offering their customers an option to compensate for their individual CO2 emissions calculated for their journey (offsetting). Customers commend Flixbus for well-organized services, friendly staff, and great price-performance ratio.
More and more customers are coming to love portals that work as digital catalogues, offering the option to refine their search with a variety of filters (like accommodation type, available equipment and features, services available, etc.) and quickly find just what they are looking for, without having to wade through mountains of offers that don’t match their requirements.
There’s an app for that
The more you can get done with an app, the better – from purchasing a ticket to booking your accommodation, or even using in-app services.
Last minute changes
With the covid pandemic still around, the number of customers who expect to be able to change or completely cancel a booking at the very last minute continues to grow, with more and more flexibility expected from the brands across the board.
“I can’t say I’ve ever had a bad experience with RegioJet; on the contrary, I’d like to highlight the positives. One time I left my laptop at the train station and only realized it when the train had already left the station. The train driver gave me a phone number for the central office that was able to put me through to the lost and found department of the said train station, with the staff being kind enough to check for my laptop at the place that I described. I got off the train on the next station and immediately went back. Luckily, the staff had found and secured my laptop, returning it to me safe and sound.” (Woman, 22)
“I had a positive experience. I booked a stay in New York, but travel to the US became impossible due to the pandemic. Airbnb promptly refunded my entire stay.” (Woman, 24)
Booking.com: “I am happy with the services, I appreciate how many real reviews there are for every accommodation, as well as how simple it is to leave a review. I’ve also reached a Genius status now, which brought a whole lot of new possibilities, including better offers.” (Woman, 31)
“I use RegioJet to travel across the country quite a lot, and I’ve always had positive experiences. I have been stuck on buses for hours with no data plan or a book to read before, and those hours felt like eternity, so I’m always happy to travel with Student Agency – I know their buses are equipped with WiFi and screens in the backs of the seats, so there is something to do to pass the time.” (Man, 20)
“I love traveling with Flixbus when I don’t have a car at my disposal. It’s the only company I use now whenever I have to take a bus – their service is great, their buses are comfortable, and I think in general, they are the best bus carrier that I know of, at least for intercity travel.” (Man, 30)
Booking.com: “I used their website to look for accommodation for my vacation in Czechia and I was able to find the option that suited me best. I like how many parameters there are to choose from – it really helps you find exactly what you’re looking for.” (Woman, 35)
České dráhy: “I love buying my tickets online – I can take my time, choose a seat, departure time, and book a place for my bike without having to wait in line at the train station.” (Woman, 69)
Dopravní podnik vašeho města: “I got my Lítačka for the first time, and I really appreciate that I was able to arrange everything just with my phone, without having to go anywhere. And what I like even better is the fact that I don’t have to carry another plastic card and simply have a Lítačka app in my phone.” (Man, 42)
“I always have a good experience using them in Prague with my daughter. I don’t book Uber rides myself, but they have always gotten us where we needed to quickly, and drivers were always polite and nice, with just a single exception – we did have the misfortune of encountering a rude, angry driver, so my daughter simply cancelled the ride and booked another. That’s something I like as well – the option to change your booking quickly.” (Woman, 59)