Air New Zealand has seen an increase in bookings as customers rush to take advantage of open borders. While it’s welcome news for the airline and New Zealand, it is not without challenge.
Air New Zealand Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty says, “Bookings on our domestic network are increasing as people start to travel again, and it’s fantastic to see international bookings flow in as we restart popular routes like Honolulu, Vancouver and San Francisco. Just this week, we operated more than 200 international flights, the highest in a long time.
“For a lot of our customers, these trips will be their first in more than two years, and it’s different to what it used to be. The new travel environment is complex, and what we’re hearing from our customers is that they have a preference to speak to a person rather than booking online or using an app. Previously around 1 in 8 customers called us before travel, now we are seeing around 1 in 3. This is leading to not only more calls, but also longer call times, with the average call handling time being around 16 minutes – approximately 50% longer than pre-Covid. While we have been recruiting into our contact centre since December last year, we just can’t keep up with the number of calls,” Geraghty adds.
The airline is looking to add 200 additional consultants, taking the total to more than 450 dedicated staff answering customer queries once training is complete in 8 weeks’ time. It’s also redeploying other staff to help out where possible.