The way people use their phones has changed over the years. How can you, as a hospitality professional, tap into the new reality? In this post, we’ll look at how messaging technology can help improve your revenue, boost your efficiency and enhance your guest experience.
Remember when mobile phones first came out? Not only were they huge, but they only had one function: voice calls (and quite often, they couldn’t even manage that).
Nowadays, around 5 billion people have a mobile, but they mostly communicate in text form, whether via email, SMS or messaging apps.
Messaging is the most commonly performed action on mobile devices, coming above games, video apps and calls. WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger now have 1.5 billion active users, and Chinese chat app WeChat isn’t far behind, with 1 billion active users.
So text messages are fully integrated into people’s lives. But what does that mean for you and your property? The answer is quite simply that it’s a trend that you can’t ignore.
1. Create a seamless experience
Messaging technology helps you manage all your communication in one place, including email, SMS, WhatsApp and any other texting app your guests might use.
That gives you the advantage of being able to communicate with guests on their terms, and in a way that makes them feel at home. Stepping into people’s comfort zone – rather than forcing them to step outside of it – allows you to create a comfortable, positive experience for your guest right from the beginning.
2. Save time while staying in touch
Because all your messaging is channeled into one platform, you can easily keep on top of everything you’re sending and receiving. That simplifies things from your point of view, since you and your staff don’t have to check multiple communication channels to see if a guest has got in touch. This not only saves you time, but it also means you’re less likely to miss urgent messages from your guests.
A lot of messaging apps also allow you to automate replies to guests’ most common questions, like check-in times, parking prices and the like. With that large chunk of messages taken care of by technology, you can free up time to dedicate to your guests.
3. Improve your guests’ stay
As a hospitality professional, you’re all about giving your guests the best possible experience. With messaging technology, it’s easy to answer all your guests’ questions ahead of time – and also offer suggestions for their stay.
For example, you could recommend nearby restaurants that are only known to locals, or let guests know about upcoming festivals in your area. All these details will help show that you’re tailoring their trip to their tastes, and add extra value to the experience.
4. Boost your online reputation
Good experiences bring good reviews. If you can resolve issues and answer doubts quickly and efficiently – which messaging technology allows you to do – your guests will have a more positive impression of your operation as a whole.
As a result, when it comes to leaving a review, they’ll be more likely to say nice things and give a high rating. The more positive reviews you get, the more likely potential guests will be to book with you in the future.
5. Increase your profits
Pre-stay emails are a great opportunity for cross-selling and upselling. For example, if a guest has booked a double room, you could send an email that includes an enticing picture of the Superior Double Room, asking if they’d be interested in booking it for a small extra cost.
Alternatively, if you have a restaurant, then these messages are a good place to get your guests thinking about having a meal there. You don’t have to achieve a sale or a reservation immediately, but emails like this help increase the chances of your guests deciding to eat there once they arrive.
6. Make check-in a breeze
Check-in is a process that all guests have to go through – and it’s a common source of frustration. There might be a queue at reception, and at the very least, they’ll have to fill in forms, make payments and hand over documents.
Some messaging technology allows you to eliminate most of that admin, making the whole experience much faster, smoother and more satisfying for the guest. An automated message asking for a scanned copy of their documents ahead of their trip (and explaining the time-saving benefits) can cut down on queuing and form-filling at check-in – so your guests can get their stay off to the best possible start.
7. Ensure your messages are received
Email is an extremely powerful tool, but it does have one major flaw. A lot of emails simply don’t get read. That’s because some email providers automatically divert some into a spam folder, and sometimes it’s simply because people don’t pay much attention to their emails.
This can cause problems when you’re trying to pass on important information. For example, you might have a policy where guests are charged an extra fee for check-in after 21:00, or there may be temporary roadworks near you. If your guests don’t ever read that information – even if you’ve sent it to them by email – it can cause conflict, frustration, complaints and negative reviews.
Unlike email providers, messaging apps like WhatsApp have an extremely high open rate, meaning your guests are far more likely to read messages that come through these channels. According to Mobile Marketing Watch, text messages have a 98% open rate, while that figure for email is far lower, at 20%.
Since messaging technology plugs into these channels, it’s a great way of making sure your guests read your messages in the first place.
8. Reach a wider audience
The internet has changed the world of hospitality forever. Nowadays, your property can be booked by guests from all over the globe, from Mumbai to Moscow, and Memphis to Marseille.
But if you’re based in Europe or the States, what happens when you get a booking from China? Sure, you could put all your emails through Google Translate, but as we’ve established, most communication with guests follows fairly predictable lines – so the pre-translated templates you get with some messaging platforms are an even better solution.
9. Be a pioneer
As we’ve seen, the trend of people using messaging apps in their day-to-day lives is already huge. However, a lot of businesses are only just catching up. That’s surprising when the numbers are there – according to a 2016 study by Flowroute, 58% of consumers said they’d view a business more positively if they used SMS texting to communicate.
So for your property, it’s a chance to get ahead of the curve when it comes to enhancing your guests’ experiences through text communication.
Guest messaging technology can have a real impact on your business. With all your messages in one place, and with automated responses in multiple languages, it can cut down on your workload. With high open rates and targeted messaging, you can also lay the groundwork for a great guest experience – something that will end up boosting your review score, and as a result, your bookings.
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