Navigating Travel Industry Risks with Intelligent Communications

Updated: July 11th, 2024

Staying Connected in a Crisis with Intelligent Communications

All sectors are vulnerable to industry-specific risks. However, the travel industry can be subjected to an array of unique and potentially catastrophic circumstances from natural disasters to health crises and extreme weather. No one can predict the future, but it’s important for businesses within this sector to be prepared for anything and that means ensuring crystal clear, proactive communication.

We’re going to explore some real-life unforeseen circumstances that the travel industry has had to navigate and how intelligent communications solutions could have helped to keep businesses and passengers connected during times of crisis.

What Types of Unforeseen Circumstances Do Travel Businesses Experience?

Before we jump into real-life scenarios, let’s take a look at some common risks that the travel industry face.

Natural Disasters

From tsunamis to volcanic eruptions, natural disasters can have a catastrophic impact on the plans and safety of passengers. From keeping customers informed on risks posed by potential natural disasters in locations around the world to organising from locations affected by a disaster, it’s vital that travel companies are able to maintain effective, proactive communications. Failure to do so, isn’t just important to ensure a good customer experience, it’s vital to ensure their safety.

Vendor Liquidation

From airlines to hotel chains, when vendors go into liquidation, customers will look to their travel provider for guidance on rescheduling their trip, sourcing refunds or returning to their origin country, should the vendor go bust during their trip. Efficient communication is key to ensure that customers feel supported, have a point of contact for queries and to receive updates on refunds and changes to their travel plans.


Sadly, there are many locations around the world that are at risk or are currently being subjected to terror-related attacks or conflict. The ability to quickly act in the event of a terror attack or an outbreak of war in order to repatriate customers and keep them informed is of paramount importance.

Health Emergencies

The travel sector is still recovering from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. From the dealing with the effects of cancelled flights to enabling agents to work from home, efficient communication technology meant the difference between businesses being able to continue or having to cease operations. It’s important for travel companies and organisations to have the ability to keep travellers notified.

Strikes and Closures

Industrial action can wreak havoc with customer plans, especially if they are unable to contract their travel provider. Modern customer expectations have evolved to demand proactive communication from their travel provider, which can only be achieved with intelligent communication solutions.

Real-life Examples of Crisis Management in the Travel Industry

Now we’ve explored the potential risks a business within the travel sector can experience, we’re going to take a look at some real events and the costs these risks caused, as well as discovering how intelligent solutions could have helped in these scenarios.

Iceland Volcanic Ash Cloud (2010)

When the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted in 2010 it wreaked havoc on Europe’s airspace that resulted in 100,000 flights being cancelled and thousands of customers being stranded. The estimated cost of this natural disaster was £3 billion. In addition, Air Transport Association reported that this natural disaster cost its members more than $1.7 billion in lost revenue as a result of dealing with the cancellation of flights.

Alongside lost revenue, airlines and travel operators also had to cope with the costs associated with providing care and assistance to stranded passengers, paying staff overtime to deal with queries and claims, and laying on extra flights.

Rail Europe was a business that was impacted by the increased strain the volcanic eruption placed on its contact centre workers. The company received between 3000 and 5000 calls per day, in addition to hundreds of emails and letters from passengers who were looking for guidance and help. To cope with this increased demand, Rail Europe had to hire 28 additional staff members to help manage call traffic and correspondence. For the company, the financial challenge posed by the volcanic eruption was three-fold:

  • The cost of customers cancelling/rescheduling
  • The cost of paying staff for longer hours
  • The cost of employing and training extra staff to cope with demand

Thomas Cook Liquidation

On Monday 23rd September 2019, global travel group, Thomas Cook, filed for compulsory liquidation. Failure to adapt and stay competitive with a new generation of more flexible travel companies, travel-related online services and low-cost airlines were responsible for the collapse of the business.

The impact of this liquidation was colossal resulting in:

  • 150,000 passengers stranded across 18 countries
  • £9 billion worth of liabilities

Many travel companies struggled to maintain effective communication or keep their customers informed about the ongoing situation. Not only did this cause widespread frustration amongst their customers, but individuals took to social media to express this frustration, leading to reputational damage. The liquidation of Thomas Cook placed pressure on other travel companies that were relying on them as a vendor, such as insurer, AXA. AXA reported having to deal with three times the number of calls usually handled by its claims team, which resulted in the organisation having to employ extra team members.

August Bank Holiday 2023 ATC System Failure

An Air Traffic Control failure on 28th August 2023 caused hundreds of thousands of passengers impacted by cancellations and delays. The CAA found in an independent review of the NATS Flight Planning System player:

  • 300,000 were affected by cancellations
  • 95,000 struggled with long delays
  • 300,000 experienced shorter delays.

Evidence from Transport Focus executed by Define found that:

“Many of these passengers were not satisfied with the promptness, frequency or breadth of the information provided to them.”

Coronavirus Pandemic (2020-2023)

The coronavirus pandemic had a huge impact on the travel industry and the effects of the pandemic are still felt today with many businesses having to rebuild or adapt their operations to ensure they won’t fall victim, should another international incident occur again.

In the first six weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic, Which? received 14,000 complaints from passengers who had not received refunds for cancellations. The customers who had reported their complaints to Which? had collectively spent 52,000 hours on the phone chasing their refunds – the equivalent of 6 years!

From a business continuity perspective, the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the importance for digital transformation when it came to facilitating travel sector workers to complete their duties and service customers from home.

How Intelligent Communication Solutions Mitigate Risks Posed by Natural Disasters

When disaster strikes, efficient communication is key both internally between teams and externally with customers. Intelligent communication solutions, such as CCaaS, UCaaS and IoT offer the features necessary for internal teams to collaborate efficiently to tackle and react proactively to travel-related crises and keep your customers informed. Let’s explore how intelligent communication solutions can help travel companies to navigate unforeseen circumstances.

Contact Centre as a Service

A key solution that can benefit all businesses within the travel sector is Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS). This powerful communications solution harnesses the advantages of multi-channel communication with a comprehensive suite of third-party integrations and customer experience tools.

Key Features of CCaaS for Travel Businesses

  • Multi-channel communication: Interact with customers using their preferred communication method and distribute workloads across various channels.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Utilise artificial intelligence to automate the handling of simple queries and prioritise urgent or complex requests for human agents.
  • Advanced Analytics: Monitor agent performance and improve your service with in-depth analytics.
  • Unified Solution: Multiple tools, applications and functions within one solution with one, monthly payment.
  • Cost-effective: Only pay for the functions, tools and accounts that you use.
  • Remote working: Access the solution on a range of devices from any location.
  • Scalable: A solution that seamlessly scales with your business – simply add and remove users as needed.

CCaaS with integrated artificial intelligence, allows your contact centre to deal with an increase in customer calls without increasing your number of team members. AI is capable of analysing your calls to separate simple queries from complex or urgent enquiries; passing the simple queries through automated or self-serve options and transferring more important enquiries to human agents. So, whether you’re having to cope with peak seasonal demand or having to quickly react to an unforeseen circumstance, your team has the resource necessary to keep your customers informed.

Intelligent IoT Connectivity

We live in a connected world. From enabling card payments within air crafts, thousands of feet in the air to empowering travel sector staff to connect with their colleagues and offices premises on-the-go – connectivity is a vital resource for the industry.

However, from high roaming costs to the caution required when enabling connectivity in aircraft and complications when crossing through multiple countries, there are many industry-specific hurdles that can make access to reliable internet connections a costly challenge.

Intelligent IoT connectivity utilises multi-network business only SIMs, which connect your devices to the strongest network in your location. So, whether your team need access to efficient connectivity whilst travelling through different countries or you need to monitor the status of important devices or vehicles for efficient management and maintenance – intelligent IoT solutions can provide the answer.

Key Benefits of IoT for Travel Businesses

  • On-the-go Productivity: Equipping staff with devices, such as iPads and mobile phone to support customers on-the-go.
  • Payment Methods: Enabling e-payments within vehicles, such as trains or aircraft.
  • Stay Connected: Allow employees who are dispersed across multiple locations to connect with each other and the business.
  • Cost-effective: Avoiding expensive roaming charges with multi-network SIMs.

In the air, intelligent IoT connectivity can enable better profitability by allowing effortless card payments for duty-free and food and drink purchases. It also enables aircraft teams to remain connected to their in-office counterparts without worrying about excessive roaming charges. So whether they are in the air or staying over in another country before their next shift, they will always have access to fast, reliable, cost-effective connectivity.

On the ground, equipping airport, airline and travel agent staff with connected devices, allows them to find and offer quick-fire information to passengers at the click of a button. When a disaster strikes, it’s key that teams can react quickly and provide the answers passengers need, quickly. Implementing effective IoT connectivity also allows teams and customers to receive push notifications and communication, quickly, should a disaster happen. In short, teams can react quickly, having access to the information they need and being able to receive updates on emerging situations and crises, instantly.

Case Study: On the Beach

We helped online travel agency, On the Beach to cope with increased traffic calling into their call centre, without increasing their workforce, through the implementation of AI-powered CCaaS solutions.

The Challenge

With the business being subject to peak seasons, customers were experiencing increased wait times. On the Beach approached the Elite Group team to find a solution that enabled their workforce to service the increased number of customer interactions.

The Solution

We worked with On the Beach to identify the interactions that could be automated using AI technology. Through the analysis, we discovered that we could reduce the quantity of interactions being handled by human agents by 10% to distribute the flow of traffic more efficiently into the contact centre. This provided the customer service team with more resource, without increasing the business’s number of agents.

The Results

Our solution enabled more efficient call handling through the automation of simple interactions and prioritising agent time for complex queries. With calls being handled more efficiently, On the Beach were able to handle seasonal peaks without the need to recruit temporary agents to deal with increased demand, which provided significant cost savings.

Take Your Business to New Heights with Intelligent CCaaS Solutions

Our specialists possess a wealth of experience and expertise in supporting travel businesses like yours to unlock their full potential with intelligent CCaaS solutions. From IoT connectivity to leveraging the power of artificial intelligence within contact centre communication solutions, we have everything you need to provide the best experience for your customers, stay ahead of competitors and streamline customer interactions.

Ensure your travel business is prepared for anything – speak to one of our communications specialists today! Call 0344 875 8880 or fill out our contact form.


World Travel and Tourism Council  | Economic Impact Research:,1.4%25%20below%20the%202019%20level.

The Russell Group | Case Study – Reducing the Economic Damage from Volcanic Ash Clouds:,likelihood%20of%20this%20happening%20again.

IATA |The Impact of Eyjafjallajokull’s Volcanic Ash Plume:

Politico | EU Starts to Count Cost of Volcanic Ash:

Travel Weekly | Impact of Ash Crisis Felt in All Sectors of Travel and Tourism:

RBR Advisory | Analysing the Fall of Thomas Cook:

GOV.UK | Thomas Cook Report to Creditors and Contributories:

Insurance Business | The Crash of Thomas Cook – Insurance Industry Reacts:–insurance-industry-reacts-178702.aspx

Civil Aviation Authority | Independent Review of NATS (EN Route) PLC’s Flight Planning System Failure:

Elite Group | On the Beach Case Study: