Texting as a Customer Engagement Channel

By Benjamin Jost Co-Founder & CEO, TrustYou | December 10, 2017

Guests constantly hop across different communication channels. To keep pace with them, hotels must migrate through these various platforms to remain engaged. Most modern hotel executives recognize the importance of communicating with guests on the medium in which they are most comfortable. However, identifying and implementing approaches that makes these meetings possible can be more difficult than these executives consider. After all, anyone can send a text message. But meeting and tracking an SLA across an SMS creates an entirely new set of hurdles.

Let’s momentarily set aside the challenges to discuss the benefits of implementing a messaging solution in a hotel setting. Implementing a messaging platform that enables easy communication with customers can mean less time spent trying to reach out to individual customers. We all have witnessed and experienced the time when hotel employees called their guests directly to confirm reservations and receive feedback. From phone calls, the industry progressed to utilizing emails for customer communication. Now we’re seeing hotels communicate through various social media channels and even text messages (SMS) to engage with their guests.

Messaging can directly serve the folks staying at your facilities. From a customer perspective, a hotel that incorporates a robust messaging platform offers convenience. Guests can communicate and provide feedback to hotels by using the venue in which they’re most comfortable, from Facebook Messenger to email to text messaging.

Some hotels have even begun working with external technology vendors or created self-made apps to chat with their guests. Regardless of the approach, incorporating messaging into customer experiences means that employees are spending less time calling individual guests. This transformation creates a faster way of handling communication. In addition, if hotels can manage all conversations on one platform, they can improve workplace efficiency.

Benefits of messaging technologies go beyond simply “speed.” Hotels can utilize their newfound agility to engage guests more frequently and provide more services. Many of our hotel clients incorporate messaging directly before, or even during a guest’s stay. A quick text message asking for special requests can make a guest feel more welcome and develop a more organic interest in them as individuals. Next time you stay at a hotel, consider how sending a text asking for extra pillows, and simply having them in the room upon your arrival would impact your view of that hotel. Speed allows for better service, which drives higher satisfaction and increases the likeliness of return visits.

Another benefit that hotels can gain by employing messaging is the the ability to resolve issues quickly and efficiently. To quote a common idiom “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Many guests are uncomfortable calling the front desk with minor issues, feeling as though they’ll come across as being a “bother.” Many of these same customers are far more comfortable putting these concerns into text, either in a message so that a hotel can act instantly, or in a negative online review after their stay, placing hotels in a defensive position.

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Hotel Spa: Oasis Unplugged

The driving force in current hotel spa trends is the effort to manage unprecedented levels of stress experienced by their clients. Feeling increasingly overwhelmed by demanding careers and technology overload, people are craving places where they can go to momentarily escape the rigors of their daily lives. As a result, spas are positioning themselves as oases of unplugged human connection, where mindfulness and contemplation activities are becoming increasingly important. One leading hotel spa offers their clients the option to experience their treatments in total silence - no music, no talking, and no advice from the therapist - just pure unadulterated silence. Another leading hotel spa is working with a reputable medical clinic to develop a “digital detox” initiative, in which clients will be encouraged to unplug from their devices and engage in mindfulness activities to alleviate the stresses of excessive technology use. Similarly, other spas are counseling clients to resist allowing technology to monopolize their lives, and to engage in meditation and gratitude exercises in its place. The goal is to provide clients with a warm, inviting and tranquil sanctuary from the outside world, in addition to also providing genuine solutions for better sleep, proper nutrition, stress management and natural self-care. To accomplish this, some spas are incorporating a variety of new approaches - cryotherapy, Himalayan salt therapy and ayurveda treatments are becoming increasingly popular. Other spas are growing their own herbs and performing their treatments in lush outdoor gardens. Some spa therapists are being trained to assess a client's individual movement patterns to determine the most beneficial treatment specifically for them. The July issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these trends and developments and examine how some hotel spas are integrating them into their operations.