Fighting a previous wildfire in Greece [Unsplash]

Faye: Travel insurance dos and don’ts for severe weather

US / Worldwide: During a summer so far defined by natural disasters [e.g. wildfires in Greece, floods in Italy, droughts in Southern Europe], flight delays and cancellations, and pilot shortages, Elad Schaffer of travel insurtech Faye, discusses the dos and don’ts when offering travel insurances for hospitality providers.

It’s no secret that travel providers and travellers alike are experiencing the Olympics of the 2023 travel climate. It’s wrought with issues: from flight delays and cancellations, to pilot shortages, to forest fires and floods. And while consumers are eager to take that much-needed summer vacation, hospitality providers can struggle to stay afloat to proactively and sufficiently support ‘snafus’ that occur throughout the trip cycle.

At travel insurtech Faye, where I’m CEO, we are seeing an increasing volume of travellers – and their challenges – first hand. To support their around-the-clock needs, we took top notch insurance and married it with a suite of smart travel and fintech solutions [like real-time itinerary alerts, telemedicine and more] while simultaneously growing our in-house customer support and claims teams in order to give travellers what they deserve: timely, quick, actionable help that makes their trips memorable for the right reasons.

If you’re a hospitality provider, here are three tips to help you do the same:

  • If you’re offering insurance, make sure the coverage is actually comprehensive

Many times travellers are stressed on their way to check out and click upon seeing ‘Protect your trip NOW’ messaging. The intent from you as a hotel or property manager of offering travel insurance as an add-on is spot on. The problem: many times these policies are cookie cutter and wrought with limitations; and when customers need protection, they often fall short.

At Faye, we decided to offer holistic, whole-trip insurance to avoid this. This means that our base policies can cover medical emergencies, flight cancellations and delays, missed connections, lost luggage and more. They can also cover trip interruptions for areas affected by severe weather and natural disasters when a mandatory evacuation is issued and when a destination is declared uninhabitable. These occurrences are growing in frequency, as we have seen this summer with the unfortunate wildfires in Greece and floods in Italy.

When the you-know-what hits the fan, customers need human support, and many times are struggling to get someone on the phone. Their next call? Your team, which may not be staffed appropriately for when issues arise in their off-hours and require coordination of a travel insurance provider and medical provider.

This brings me to my next point – proactive and accessible travel assistance that acts as an extension of your team.

  • Virtual assistants are great, but humans many times want human help

We recently commissioned a survey to take the temperature of travellers’ preferences, especially when it comes to tech. We’ll be publishing those results in full soon, but in the meantime, one data point I can share is that travellers prefer human help over a virtual assistant when planning a trip, but most want access to both equally. According to the survey, about 23 per cent of travellers want a human travel agent, 18 per cent prefer to rely on a virtual travel assistant, and 51 per cent want both.

But what happens when trip planning is done, and you’re off to your vacation?

Customers – especially in a post-Covid world – are seeking a protector, companion and champion from takeoff to checkout. A desire for best-in-class support is heightened when things go amiss. We know this – which is why our support team is available 24/7, even on weekends and holidays, and available in every possible way: phone, email, in-app chat and WhatsApp. On average we respond to customers in a matter of a minute or two.

This comes in handy for online travel agencies [OTAs], cruise lines, hotels, resorts, travel advisers and property management companies when extreme weather hits [for example during hurricane season] as our team will help customers find alternate arrangements, new flights and more, relieving hospitality providers of that burden in order to deliver calm in a moment of chaos.

The security of having a travel insurance provider that can act as an extension of your team doesn’t just fall on customer support – it’s also about financial security.

Modern travel insurance companies provide a financial backstop and clarity for your accounting function as you no longer have to worry about refunding reservations or coordinating care if and when covered reasons occur, creating a moment in which trip protection has both consumers and your business covered.

Travellers might be the ones on vacation, but travel partners deserve peace of mind too.

  • Automate processes that give travellers the biggest headaches [or find partners who will do it for you]

This brings me to my last suggestion – find ways in which you can automate and ease consumers’ biggest pain points. When it comes to travel, and extreme weather impacting trips, usually the biggest snafu is finance-related – from filing claims to getting reimbursed in a timely manner. Because let’s be honest: no one wants to pay for trip changes, or for unplanned expenses, out of pocket as these can equate to hundreds or thousands of dollars.

We’ve improved the often frustrating claims process by completely digitising it – from claim submission to payment. Faye travellers can upload their claims in minutes via our app. Once approved, funds are sent in seconds to the traveller’s dedicated Faye Wallet, available for immediate use. In common travel inconveniences – like flight delays – this is a super delightful, and quick, experience.

How it works: our team approves a claim, sends funds to our secure, digital debit card Faye Wallet, which travellers can add to their Apple or Google Wallet. They can use the funds immediately by tapping to pay, or they can transfer them directly to their bank account.

Why this is helpful to hospitality businesses: reducing traveller stress helps every business tied to a traveller’s journey. Your guests no longer need to pay out of pocket for meals or a change of clothes when stuck at the airport for six-plus hours, and they no longer bear the burden of carrying around receipts for an entire trip.

A summer to remember for the right reasons

We, as hospitality and travel tech providers, must lean on each other to provide the best customer experiences to deserving travellers this season and beyond. Use these tips to go the distance in driving home vacations that are memorable for the right reasons.

Elad Schaffer is co-founder & CEO of Faye Travel Insurance. Schaffer will join STRz for a bespoke webinar on Tuesday 12 September [3pm BST] to discuss ‘Enhancing the guest experience to drive the bottom line’ alongside speakers from The Host Co., Duve and Guesty. Sign up for free at this link.

Faye will also be speaking at the inaugural ShortTermRentalz Summit on Wednesday 18 October in London, on a session entitled ‘Pitch battle: Tech it out’. See the full event agenda here and book your tickets now at this link.

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