Many Muslims are looking forward to exploring the world again.
After spending two years in lockdowns, Muslim travelers are booking tickets and hitting the airports once more. Despite this good news, tourism players will be facing a new age of travel, one that is marked with uncertainties and changes. Fortunately, experts say remaking customer experience can be key in welcoming the ‘new normal’ of Muslim travel effectively.
As part of its commitment to help stakeholders in the Muslim travel industry in the ‘new normal’, CrescentRating invited experts for its Halal in Travel Global Summit 2022 for the session titled Remaking Customer Experience.
Our panelists included Mayank Dutt (Vice President. Head of Marketing and Communications of MasterCard, Southeast Asia); Chee Chong Chan (Co-founder & CEO of GlobalTix), and Dr. Nurhafihz Noor (Lecturer & Researcher, Curtin Singapore).
Halal Travel Guide Managing Director, Soumaya Hamdi, sits as its moderator.
The era of post-pandemic traveling is here. More hotels are reopening. Tourists with their hats, maps, and cameras are returning. Questions, however, continue to loom in the Muslim travel industry, with COVID-19 leaving tremendous changes in our lives, including how we travel.
How would the travelers behave now? Will technology remain important in engaging with audiences? What would be the most effective communication strategies to interact with potential Muslim tourists? When left unanswered, these challenges can make the Muslim travel industry’s journey to recovery difficult.
But with the right data and suggestions, destinations, hoteliers, tour operators, and organizations can steer themselves in the right direction. Read on to learn what Muslim travel experts shared during the Halal in Travel Global Summit 2022’s Remaking Customer Experience virtual event.
Panelists in CrescentRating’s Remaking Customer Experience webinar agreed that the pandemic has resulted in major changes in travelers’ preferences and behavior. They pointed out that tourists, in a post-pandemic setting, would prioritize experiences over anything else. In particular, unique experiences that could bring them closer to the local community.
“A lot of our travelers are gravitating towards experiences and not materialism… It’s not just about (finding the perfect destination). It’s about finding that unique experience,” said Mayank Dutt.
Mayank revealed that a survey commissioned by MasterCard showed that 60% of their respondents prefer experiences over the materialistic aspect of traveling.
Muslim travelers nowadays are more socially conscious and more empowered, with accessibility to information and the internet continually expanding.
Wider access to information has led travelers to spend more time researching about a destination or an activity before making any crucial decision on their trip, experts say.
In other words, transparency is a crucial factor in their entire decision-making process. The internet has paved the way for travelers to share their insights, experiences, and comments on open and public online platforms.
“They would do a lot of research prior to going to their destinations… and they are also consciously looking for more unique experiences to do,” said Chee Chong Chan.
Aside from experiences, Muslim travelers, in the ‘new normal’, are willing to spend more on activities and trips that create a positive impact on the community they serve.
The ‘new normal’ in traveling will be characterized by a digital-first attitude.
During the pandemic, electronic and cashless payments not only became a preventive measure to curb the spread of COVID-19. But they also supported micro and small players to weather the economic crisis that followed, the panelists explained. Even if the world is gradually returning to its pre-pandemic state, electronic payment systems will remain.
Aside from digital payment channels, innovation contributed largely to reshaping how people travel. When lockdowns were still in place, tourism stakeholders scaled up not only their digital presence but relied more and more on innovation to sustain demand. An example would be providing interactive, digital tours to potential visitors.
According to Dr. Nurhafihz Noor, highly engaging virtual tours will continue as a big trend in the ‘new normal’ of Muslim travel.
“Technology has helped us provide more immersive tours before the travelers can arrive at their destinations,” said Dr. Noor.
Experts also suggested tourism players to start incorporating Artificial Intelligence (AI) to streamline data gathering and analysis which can help them come up with the right plans and decisions.
It is also highly suggested for stakeholders of the Muslim travel industry to continually utilize social media channels and tap key opinion leaders (KOLs) to connect effectively with their target audiences.
Panelists said social media sites and KOLs, also known as influencers, have been helpful in bridging brands, organizations, and institutions with the younger demographics - in particular, the Millennials and Generation Z (Gen Z). So they recommended that tourism players must start exploring social networking platforms, and partner with the right influencers.
Leisure travel is back but is not without a few challenges and hurdles. We hope the insights from our recent Halal in Travel Global Summit 2022 can be helpful for your goals. Click here to watch more sessions from the Halal in Travel Global Summit 2022.