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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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.