By Justine Streng, Project Manager, ALICE
The key to guest satisfaction in the hotel industry is providing a personalized experience that meets and exceeds the guests’ needs. This critical factor to keeping hotel rooms full and revenues high is to excel at hotel guest communication and to secure a repeat guest.
Which begs the question…HOW do we provide a personalized experience for guests in a world with COVID-19?
Texting is no longer reserved for your family group chats, but also your hotel’s concierge. According to Twillio, 89% of consumers prefer to use messaging to communicate with businesses. This is because messaging is primarily used on cell phones, which makes it the ideal method for guests to have a positive experience and ‘chat’ with reception from the air, land or even sea.
Why would Guest Messaging be beneficial for a hotel?
There are multiple lines of communication available, however, SMS is the most underrated tool being used in hospitality today. Millennials tend to prefer messaging and social media over any other form of communication. However, it is surprising to learn that messaging is 3 to 8 times preferred over in-person interactions across all generations. Keeping in mind that this statistic was made pre COVID-19, we can only assume this statistic has grown significantly since.
Historically, hotels might have thought of text messaging as too casual, especially for a 5-star, white glove experience kind of hotel. However, in a time where face-to-face communication conjures anxiety, instead of congeniality, communicating with your guests via text messaging is an easy way to establish a safe yet intimate encounter.
How does the guest benefit from SMS communication?
Traditionally guests message their parents and best friends, not their concierge. The hospitality industry is discovering that through this chat functionality, a guest is able to stay in constant communication with their hotel, as well as receive a personalized guest experience tailored to their needs.
When guests feel valued, they are less likely to leave a negative review. They are more likely to rave about the hotel’s fast, attentive customer service. This could be the difference that turns first time guests into repeat guests, and repeat guests into fanatics. The service at your hotel will then be recommended to their friends, family, and even strangers in a grocery line.
So, you are willing to give guest messaging a try, but how can your hotel use it effectively?
How to use a communication platform effectively
Prior to a guest’s arrival, your concierge can initiate the conversation by introducing themselves. They can also send a pre-stay questionnaire asking for the guest’s preferences and sharing the hotel’s COVID-19 policies. Having a direct channel for up-to-date information, and a platform to allow guests to easily ask questions, will build your guests’ confidence. It will also build their trust as they ease back into traveling again.
Text messaging allows for easier customization for your team rather than guessing what the guests’ needs are. A guest is able to use this open communication for a multitude of reasons. For example, to request a crib in the room, request an early check-in, or find out more information on the outdoor dining options in the area.
What does this line of communication look like in action?
On the day of arrival, reception is able to text the guest to inform them that their room is ready early. They also share the hotel’s available options for contactless check-in. They are able to fill out the pre-stay email in which they ask for a crib.
The guest, exhausted from the anxiety of pandemic travel with an infant, smiles when entering the room. After seeing the previously requested crib tucked neatly in the corner, they are able to relax.
The concierge then sends a short message to welcome the guest. This message includes an attachment to the hotel’s In-Room Dining menu – noting that the rain may damper her previously intended plans for outdoor dining.
Throughout a guest’s stay, the Housekeeping Coordinator messages the guest on the same platform, letting her know exactly when the room is being cleaned each day. This allows the guest to avoid contact with the room attendant. And return to the room knowing that it has been safely sanitized for her family.
24-hours after departure, the guest receives a personalized thank you message for staying at the property. Within the thank you note, there is a link to a survey to rate her experience and/or write a hotel review. She follows the link on her cell phone and happily reflects on how the hotel eased her fears and helped create lasting memories.
What are some benefits of virtual guest interactions?
In this short example, the hotel was able to stay in consistent communication with the guest in real time, from pre-arrival through departure, all by using SMS. The hoteliers exemplified anticipatory service without ever needing to meet face-to-face.
By using guest messaging, the guest’s requests were not lost between departments. From the front desk to housekeeping, all departments had access to the same conversation and the same information. The pandemic did not prevent the team from doing what they do best — and receiving a positive review is the icing on the cake.
Implementing a hotel communication software like ALICE is a key component to making sure your hotel operates at peak efficiency, while ensuring a personalized guests’ experience and keeping everyone safe.