Before the pandemic, guest messaging in hospitality was a choice – both for hotels and guests.
But in 2020, guests and hotel staff began using messaging out of necessity for social distancing and sanitary reasons. One property reported to ALICE that the hotel’s guest messaging response rate skyrocketed from 5% in 2019 to 95% in 2020 during the pandemic.
Check-in and checkout processes were handled through messaging to create a contactless experience. The demand and need for services didn’t change during the pandemic, but they needed to be delivered differently.
Previously, a guest may have picked up their room phone to request towels, but out of concern for germs, they had become reluctant to use a phone previously used by other guests. Many guests turned to messaging for the first time because they could have a contactless interaction using their own device.
From a Conversation to a Relationship
Hotels and guests who increased their use of messaging over the past 18 months are now continuing the process due to the benefits the medium provides. Messaging offers a way to start a conversation that then turns into a relationship. Many hotels see that messaging is a gateway that allows their guests to communicate a series of requests.
For example, with ALICE guest messaging:
- A guest texts the hotel to ask for recommendations for an anniversary dinner with his wife – which turns into a request for the concierge to make dinner reservations for the couple.
- The hotel checks in with the guest later and asks if he would like to order champagne and chocolate strawberries to be waiting when they return to the room.
- The hotel uses ALICE to note their anniversary and next year sends the couple an anniversary card reminding them of their special weekend, which turns into the couple booking the hotel for their next getaway.
While on the surface, the primary benefit appears to be communicating with the guest and building a relationship, hotels also save time and improve processes by using messaging for operational processes. As many hotels are now operating with leaner staff, messaging can help properties meet higher guest expectations with fewer employee hours.
A conversation that starts as a text message request (such as a late checkout) may impact the service and operations of the hotel. In this example, a guest texts the front desk to move their checkout time three hours back. The front desk must confirm that request with housekeeping, and then housekeeping must adjust their cleaning schedule. Additionally, the request may impact what room the front desk assigns a guest with an early check-in time. Housekeeping operations can be streamlined if integrated with the right hotel operations technology platform.
ALICE Platform Makes Messaging Seamless with Operations
With ALICE, hotel staff can automate messages to send at specific times or when a guest takes a specific action.
Let’s take the previous example when a guest requests a late checkout:
- Messaging can be utilized to send a confirmation of the new checkout time to the guest.
- When using both guest messaging and housekeeping products, ALICE can automate the process of changing the housekeeping schedule based on the new checkout time and updating the specific employee’s workflow.
- If there is an issue with the rescheduling, ALICE flags the issue for human review.
If a conversation with a guest turns into a service request, such as needing extra pillows, then the staff member can set up a service ticket from the same screen – which happens 28% of the time according to ALICE reporting. The ALICE platform provides the ability to both create service tickets and message with guests and other staff. The integration of messaging and service saves staff time communicating and eliminates errors because a responsible party is assigned at the time the request is made.
Next time a guest stays at the hotel, ALICE can show their message history so staff can proactively meet their needs, such as giving them extra towels or letting them know about live music at the bar. And messages don’t have to start from scratch. The many templates provided by ALICE will help create messages proven to delight guests.
With ALICE, hoteliers can integrate messaging into the entire guest journey from check-in to check-out. Need to communicate with all guests at the same time – such as a fire alarm drill or approaching inclement weather? Get the message out using the broadcast feature with just a few clicks
Easing Pain Points on the Guest Journey
As you begin looking to use messaging for the first time, or to expand your hotel’s use of messaging, start by evaluating the guest journey:
- Look at current pain points that you can address to increase their satisfaction, such as common requests or complaints.
- Next, talk with your employees to determine areas of miscommunication or delays.
- Create a plan for how to use messaging to streamline these issues and improve both guest and employee satisfaction.
One area to look at is areas where guests are often unsatisfied. For example, guests often accidently turn over the Do Not Disturb sign and then are upset when they return to a room that hasn’t been cleaned while they were out. In addition to decreased guest satisfaction, housekeeping becomes overloaded in the afternoon when they have to reschedule these rooms for last-minute cleanings before they leave for the day. By using messaging, housekeeping can confirm with guests with a Do Not Disturb sign that they don’t need their room cleaned, which improves operations and satisfaction.
Another area to consider are processes that require staff to go back to the guest with a question or to acquire permissions. For example, the dry cleaner notices that an expensive blouse sent for cleaning has a rip and they need permission to continue. In the absence of messaging, the blouse needs to be returned to the guest with a form to allow permission for cleaning, which results in extra staff time and guest frustration. With messaging, the dry cleaner can get permission in minutes and have the freshly cleaned blouse waiting for the guest at the end of the day.
Moving Forward With Messaging
While many hotels turned to messaging out of necessity during the crisis, messaging can solve many age-old challenges facing both guests and hotels. Additionally, as we go into an uncertain fall, both in terms of the pandemic and occupancy, creating a messaging process with ALICE platform gives you the tools you need to manage whatever the upcoming months bring your way.
To learn more about how messaging can help you navigate the uncertain next few months in terms of travel, schedule a demo today.