Digitally Transforming the Voice Channel to Combat Rising Scam Threats

Americans received 77 billion unwanted robocalls in the last 12 months, and 68% of consumers say they will never answer a phone call from an unknown number.

Rising consumer expectations continue to reshape the way hotels, resorts, airlines, cruise lines and other hospitality and travel organizations operate, communicate and deliver services. Digitally transforming old processes is critical.

Despite technological advancements, however, unwanted robocalls remain a major nuisance in the travel industry, negatively impacting the customer experience by eroding trust in the voice channel. Americans received 77 billion unwanted robocalls in the last 12 months. It’s no wonder hospitality brands struggle to reach and engage with travelers in a timely fashion: new survey data shows 68% of consumers would never answer a phone call from an unknown number.

So, what does this mean for the hospitality and travel industry?

Travel brands face specific challenges when it comes to tackling the robocall problem. The industry relies heavily on the voice channel to deliver time-sensitive travel and reservation updates, handle bookings, respond to guest inquiries and other essential services.

However, bad actors have grown increasingly sophisticated in their scams, making it difficult for customers to distinguish between authentic and fraudulent communications. The ripple effect is that consumers distrust voice and text communications from hospitality brands, complicating engagement and risking brand reputation. 

Organizations are increasingly going on the offensive through digital transformation initiatives focused on enhancing customer engagement and restoring trust in the voice channel. For all the automation underway across myriad customer touch points, consumers interacting with travel brands often have highly personalized, complex and time-sensitive issues. If they can’t reach the brand or vice-versa, the consequences can be harmful.

Core to these transformation efforts is branded calling technology, which enables organizations to increase call answer rates, improve efficiency and create a seamless and personalized user experience. So, it may not come as a surprise that the aforementioned survey also finds that 71% of U.S. adults would answer a branded call from a hotel, airline or cruise line if they had scheduled or were planning a trip.

The Scam Threat Landscape 

The travel industry is frequently targeted by robocall scams that exploit unsuspecting customers. Consumers may have noticed an increase in these scams, driven in part by a rebound in travel. Allianz projected a 55% surge in U.S. travel to Europe this summer, which means more activity that bad actors can seize on. 

False vacation scams are prevalent. Robocalls offering fake vacation packages or all-inclusive deals to unsuspecting individuals promise unrealistically low prices or exclusive offers to entice potential victims. Robocall scams are also frequently used to target timeshare owners, promising to help them sell their property at an inflated price, requesting upfront fees for listing services or administrative costs.

These kinds of unwanted calls offer deals that are too good to be true to solicit personal information and deceive customers, eroding trust in brands and tarnishing the overall customer experience. They also have potential consequences to the bottom line.

Flipping The Script On Scammers

Branded calling technology addresses the robocall problem by presenting critical brand information on incoming call screens so consumers can instantly recognize who is on the other end of the call. This helps restore trust in the voice channel.

With branded calling solutions, hospitality and travel businesses benefit in two major ways:

Increased Call Answer Rates.By displaying the brand logo or name on the incoming call screen, branded calling increases the likelihood of customers answering calls. This higher answer rate ensures that important messages, such as scheduling updates, special offers or personalized recommendations, reach customers in a timely manner, improving overall communication efficiency. Sixty-three percent of U.S. adults would answer a call from hospitality or travel brands if they see the brand logo or name displayed on their incoming call screen. Notably, among the 18 to 34-year-old demographic, this figure increases to 72 percent.

Enhanced Customer Trust and Recognition.Branded calling builds trust and familiarity with customers. When customers see a recognizable brand logo on their incoming call screen, it instills them with confidence and credibility. They are more likely to engage in conversations, share information and feel assured that the call is legitimate.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents were more inclined to share personal information related to hospitality stays and travel when the incoming call is branded with the company's logo and name. This sentiment is even higher among the 18 to 44-year-old demographic, with 64% of respondents within that age group expressing agreement.

This trust fosters stronger relationships between the brand and its customers, helping to increase loyalty, repeat business and create a stronger bottom line.

The digital transformation of the voice channel represents an evolution in how hospitality and travel companies engage with their customers. Historically, the voice channel has been a vital means of communication, but it often lacked the personalization and branding elements associated with other digital touchpoints. Now, businesses can transform the way they connect with customers over the phone.



Jim Tyrrell is Vice President of Enterprise Product Management at TNS with specific responsibility for TNS’ Communications Market solutions.