Just as communication between friends and family has evolved due to the rise of mobile technology and social media, so has communication between businesses and their customers. Consumers expect to be able to connect with businesses as easily and conveniently as they connect with family and friends, and that’s why more and more hotels are implementing mobile messaging options for communicating with guests.
From SMS to popular messaging apps (like WhatsApp and Messenger) to guest messaging platforms designed specifically for the hospitality industry (like AKIA and Kipsu), lodging operators have various options through which to offer guests the convenience and personalized service of mobile messaging.
As a guest engagement channel, mobile messaging comes with many advantages. It’s an instant, personable and conversational way of communicating with guests, and portrays a more human side of business compared to traditional methods of communication like email. It’s a well-received form of communication too, with an open rate of at least 98 percent.
Mobile messaging also provides lodging operators with a record of chat history—in other words, valuable data that can be analyzed at both an individual level (guest profile data) and on an aggregate scale.
But perhaps the most important reason for implementing guest messaging is that it’s simply the way people want to communicate. Research shows that 90 percent of consumers want to use messaging to communicate with businesses. Hoteliers have found that guest messaging increases service recovery opportunities and results in higher guest satisfaction. Messaging provides guests with a convenient, less confrontational method of reporting problems and making requests in the moment, curbing negative reviews. It’s proven to boost ancillary revenue too.
The adoption of guest messaging should no longer be a matter of if, but when. But, as with the implementation of any new process, thoughtful consideration must be given to the challenges of adopting guest messaging within your own operations to ensure its efficiency and effectiveness.
Adopting Guest Messaging the Right Way
While implementing messaging technology itself is relatively simple, ensuring that it fits in with your day-to-day operations is a bit more complex. Dealing with guest requests and complaints through any channel involves various hotel departments and requires systems and processes to be defined, implemented, monitored and analyzed—and mobile messaging is no exception. Therefore, the success of guest messaging depends on how well it is integrated with your other hotel systems.
When you think about the practical implications of managing mobile messaging at your property, questions probably pop into your mind, like, “How can we quickly identify who is making the request?” and “How will staff find the time to manage yet another channel?”
A typical guest enquiry almost always involves departments beyond the front desk. When front desk staff receive a request or complaint, they need to identify the guest and then communicate the request to the relevant department, be it F&B for room service, maintenance for a leaky faucet, or housekeeping for extra towels. And then they need to follow up to ensure the request has been fulfilled.
Without a properly integrated messaging system, it’s easy to see how the burden on front desk staff during peak season could become unmanageable. But when your guest messaging solution is integrated with your property management system (PMS), fulfilling guest requests and resolving complaints becomes much more efficient, and communications more personalized.
Combining the power of guest data with the convenience of mobile messaging creates a robust and efficient guest engagement tool that is hard to beat.
Through direct integration, your PMS communicates guest reservation data to your guest messaging platform in real time, allowing your messaging platform to personalize and trigger messaging automatically, based on live reservation information. This ensures every guest receives the right information at the right time, while increasing efficiency at the front desk.
Fulfillment of guest enquiries becomes more efficient and personalized too, with profile data automatically pulled alongside the message thread so staff don’t have to look up guest information manually. Faster response times and improved guest satisfaction are the results!
When guest messaging is viewed as part of an integrated system rather than yet another service channel to manage, it offers real potential to elevate the guest experience and improve operational efficiency and staff productivity.