In-store technologies to improve customer experience and interaction: an exploratory investigation in Italian travel agencies

di Mauro Dini, Simone Splendiani, Laura Bravi e Tonino Pencarelli

in The TQM Journal

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ABSTRACT

Purpose – This paper aims to deepen understanding of the role played by new technological tools used in customer–travel agency (TA) interactions by analysing the TA owner/managers’ perceptions, pre- and postCovid-19, regarding the effectiveness of in-store traditional and innovative tools.
Design/methodology/approach – This exploratory study is based on a questionnaire-based survey conducted among Italian TAs and distributed via email from September 2020 to January 2021.
Findings – The study highlights how, even among TAs, the role of in-store technology is gradually taking on greater importance, and it delves into the specific business and socio-demographic factors that seem to cause differences among agencies.
Research limitations/implications –The study focuses on the Italian context, which does not allow for any generalisations. Furthermore, it is only the travel agent perspective that is observed and not the consumer’s.
Originality/value – In addition to helping to bridge the literature gap, this study on in-store technologies focuses on the TAs sector, where human resources and human relationships play a decisive role in customer experience and interaction. The paper investigates the travel agents’ point of view regarding the introduction of new in-store technologies; it also highlights their growing adoption and use, overall, despite the travel catalogue still remaining the main tool for interacting with customers. The study also shows how the advent of Covid-19 has increased travel agents’ propensity to use digital technologies.
Keywords Travel agencies, In-store technologies, Customer experience, Customer interaction, ICT, SMEs