Travelocity, continuing its shift away from an Internet-only travel site to what its CEO Terry Jones now describes as a “great business that happens to be on the Internet,” has opened its third customer service center, this one located in Clintwood, Va. The new facility means Travelocity now has customer service centers in the East, Southwest and West Coast.
Customer service has become increasingly important for online travel sites in general; Travelocity has long prided itself on the fact that its customer service centers are staffed by its own employees. Still, Travelocity saw first-hand earlier this year how important call centers are to its business. After it found its call centers overwhelmed with cruise and vacation package inquiries, it directed overflow calls to a back-up call center and saw its cruise and vacation sales increase 50%. The lesson, according to Terry Jones?
“If we can get more call centers, we can do more business,” he said.
Travelocity is making all of its U.S. customer service staff members of its own team, taking the centers in house.
“We believe that having our own team of dedicated and trusted professionals allows us to be more involved with our customers and helps us better understand their needs,” Jones said.
Travelocity, like online retailers in general, has been increasing its focus on customer service for the past year and a half to two years; it says that it now has 1,000 customer service representatives on the job day and night. Customer service is a mission-critical and core business process at Travelocity, which requires all employees to listen to multiple customer calls each month and offer ideas for improvement. Customer service is particularly important for selling more complex—and profitable—products such as vacation packages and cruises.
The announcement follows several other new initiatives taken recently by Travelocity, which celebrated its fifth anniversary in April. Its new GoodBuy program expands upon the Travelocity Value program featuring special low fares and hotel room rates. It also recently introduced Travelocity Preferred Traveler, a travel club designed for the online traveler that includes perks and discounts worldwide; an online Travelocity Vacations brand and Option Finder, which advises members about alternate dates and cities where lower fares may be available; and the Travelocity.com World MasterCard.