Providing a contactless experience through guest messaging used to be a ‘nice-to-have’ – both for hotels and guests. Today, guest messaging is an essential tool; contactless communication is crucial at a time when teams are understaffed and social distancing regulations are in flux. In fact, we’ve seen huge increases in adoption: in one example, an ALICE hotel’s guest messaging response rate skyrocketed from 5% in 2019 to 95% in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Guests are expecting communication about their stay from the moment they book until they exit the front lobby entrance. In response to these changes in guests’ hospitality expectations, hotel staff protocols for guest interactions have also changed to accommodate – but hotel teams have also become leaner.
Hotel operations software streamlines hotel messages to guests and automates tasks, so that lean teams can focus on optimizing the guest experience while keeping everyone safe. Here is a look at the hotel guest messaging journey from pre-arrival all the way through to post-checkout.
Being able to directly communicate with guests before they even step foot into the hotel sets the tone for their entire stay and has the power to establish a connection with them. With ALICE guest messaging, the hotel team is able to automate a message to send on the day of arrival to provide check-in instructions, share safety protocols, and determine the guest’s time of arrival.
For hotels with guest messaging powered by hotel operations software like ALICE, the guest’s arrival time can trigger a task with housekeeping to guarantee the room is clean and ready.
Once a guest responds with their time of arrival, the hotel can continue the conversation. For example, the hotel can automatically respond with an offer to set up dining reservations in town, so the guest doesn’t have to worry about phone calls or restaurant recommendations. ALICE’s integration with restaurant reservation software such as OpenTable makes it easy to secure and manage dining for guests and communicate within one platform.
Messaging enables a personalized guest experience before they even arrive on property – and personalization is essential for any stay!
Once a guest has arrived, checked in, and gone up to their hotel room, guest messaging software can automate a text asking if they are happy with their room or if they need anything. This reassures the guest that they are able to ask any questions or point out anything that might be missing in an easy, quick, real-time, contactless way via text message.
Messaging also opens a direct channel to curate special offers right away to the guest including upgrades. Did the guest arrive at night after a long day of travel? Send a text offering an upgrade to breakfast at the hotel to refuel and kick the morning off right.
In-room upsells are another revenue stream that 1) has become more popular with social distancing and contactless communication, and 2) can be personalized through messaging. The largest hotel in Norway sold $1.3 million in in-room upsells during the summer of 2020 by targeting offers based on information gathered via guest messaging. Is a couple staying for a romantic evening? They receive a text for an in-room “Date Night” package with champagne and strawberries. What about a few friends watching a big game? They get a text for the in-room “Sports Fan” package with beers and snacks.
Continuing this direct communication after pre-arrival reinforces that the guest can easily communicate requests and receive in-room service without going all the way downstairs to the lobby or trying to work a traditional landline.
While messaging during the guest’s stay will look different for each hotel depending on amenities and location, mid-stay guest messaging can be even more personalized as it builds on insights from the initial stages of the guest journey.
Let’s take the romantic couples getaway for example. They opted for the in-room upsell “Date Night” package on the first night, but they are staying two more nights. Are they considering daytime activities or excursions, but don’t want to wait at the front desk to inquire? Messaging is a way to proactively ask that question and understand if they are looking for more recreational activities like surfing lessons or relaxing experiences like a spa treatment.
And for guests who have not yet needed to place requests via text, a broadcast message enables a chance to invite all guests to a special event like outdoor happy hour. Broadcast messages can help reengage guests by subtly reminding them about hotelwide experiences.
Mid-stay check-ins show guest appreciation, reiterating that their entire stay is important – not just when they pay or leave a review.
Just because a guest has left the property, their experience does not have to be over. Once the guest has checked out, messaging provides one final attempt to leave a positive impression and further foster loyalty. The automated post-checkout message might be a simple ‘thanks’ for their stay but it can be accompanied by a link requesting a hotel review.
Reviews are critical to hotel properties as they influence purchasing decisions. Good reviews can bring in new guests just as quickly as poor reviews can deter future guests. In our blog post on “How to Ensure Guests Leave Your Hotel a Positive Online Review”, we note Qualtrics data showing 91% of 18-34 year olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Leave guests with a positive message as they leave the hotel, and it could pay off in an increase of glowing online reviews!
A guest’s hotel experience begins when they book the room, so start building that connection quickly and directly. Guest messaging allows fast and direct connection with guests – personalizing and enhancing their experience. With the expectation of contactless service in combination with a lean team, ALICE’s guest messaging empowers hotel staff to efficiently communicate while saving time in the day to focus on the tasks that really do need to be done in person.
Alongside messaging, ALICE’s hospitality software platform creates tasks from texts with guests, streamlines assignments to the correct department whether Guest Services or Housekeeping or Maintenance, and monitors task completion – all in one place. This platform approach is a “force multiplier” for a lean staff and drives new revenue sources for the hotel.