The adoption of guest messaging in the hospitality industry is no longer a matter of if, but when. In an industry built on providing great guest experiences, it’s only logical that SMS and messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat will soon be adopted at scale.
But the change requires hoteliers to embrace messaging, and many have shown a reluctance to do so. How can I manage all these channels? Who will respond to guest inquiries? How can we maintain control of our brand image?
What You Need to Know About Guest Messaging
Often at the core of such concerns is a misconception of what messaging is and how it fits into hotel operations. To dispel these myths, here are seven important truths about guest messaging.
1. The Shift to Digital Communications Is a Natural Evolution
The hospitality industry has come a long way technologically in the past decade, and these advances have had a big impact on the guest experience. From the speed and efficiency of booking accommodation to the ease of sharing opinions on social media, travelers and hoteliers alike have had to adjust to an increasingly connected world.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the ways in which we exchange information. Email, text messaging, social media – the speed and volume of communications have grown exponentially. Now, with messaging apps outstripping other forms of communication in popularity, hotels cannot afford to ignore this shift any longer.
2. Travelers Want to Be Able to Message Hotels
The slow adoption of messaging in the hospitality industry isn’t due to a lack of desire on the part of consumers. In daily life, people use messaging to communicate with friends and family, and increasingly they expect the same convenience from businesses.
In a study from OpenMarket, 90 percent of hotel guests in the US and the UK said they would find communicating via messaging with a hotel useful. Travelers don’t want to wait on hold, in a line, or for an email response. It’s much easier to message the hotel.
3. Messaging Doesn’t Create More Work, It Saves Time
As many hotel organizations are dealing with staff shortages, hotel employees are often overworked, so they certainly don’t need additional responsibilities. And yet, part of the workload issue stems from dependency on the telephone, email, and face-to-face interactions that could be more efficiently handled with digital technology.
In an age when people always have their mobile phones with them, the in-room telephone handset seems like a relic of the past. Messaging is a much quicker, efficient, and convenient means of communication for guests and for staff.
Messaging software features like AI-driven chatbots ensure that guests receive an instant response even when staff is tied up. The chatbot will send quick answers to common questions like hours of operation, directions, and menu queries, ensuring that the information is always thorough, accurate, and consistent. Moreover, by automating up to 80% of your responses, hotel staff wins back time to deal with other tasks.
4. Messaging Doesn’t Harm Service, It Elevates It
With OTAs now sending in-stay surveys to travelers, messaging allows hotels to create direct connections with guests and take greater control over the guest experience.
Guests can easily send requests to staff and alert them of issues at any time of day, from on property or off, even while out exploring the city. This kind of close communication facilitates quick service recovery and provides opportunities to provide remarkable service. The instant support a chatbot offers ensures that guests receive the information they need, and when they need it.
5. Messaging Is a Unique Way to Communicate
Messaging is different from telephone, email, and face-to-face communications, and messaging with guests is different from messaging with family or friends. To ensure that communications are clear, professional, and effective, hotels must provide staff with training and guidelines.
The implementation of guest messaging is relatively simple, however, putting into place systems and processes for receiving and following up on messages is more complex. Automated case management systems are a great complement to your messaging software. A single setup will ensure streamlined workflows and procedures, alerting the right staff members at the right time.
6. Messaging is More than SMS
For hotels, messaging can come in many forms: SMS/text messaging, apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, and Instagram, and emerging platforms like Telegram and Google Business Messages. We have also seen the proliferation of website chat widgets that greet website visitors and offer assistance.
Messaging can now be combined with chatbots, computer programs designed to simulate conversations with human users. Chatbots can be employed to free up valuable time by answering repeat common questions or booking restaurants, rooms, or activities. This leaves staff to focus on what matters the most: the guest.
7. Messaging Is a Critical Piece of a Bigger Puzzle
Rather than view messaging as just another service channel to operate, hoteliers should regard it as part of an integrated system of tools and processes for optimizing the guest experience. From a technology perspective, this requires integration with operations software.
For example, if a guest messages, “My TV remote is broken”, the request can be directed to the correct department, with notifications and escalation parameters set to automatically track the completion of the task and ensure follow-up. When messaging is paired with operational management systems that alert, flag, track, and measure performance, improvement to the guest experience is assured.
The importance of messaging to the hospitality industry is undeniable. The question is, when will you embrace it?
Talk to our Team!