Being able to effectively communicate with guests during their stay can be a challenge for most hotels. After check-in, hotel staff rarely interact with guests beyond simple transactional encounters.
Furthermore, hotels rarely know if guests are happy or angry unless they express their feelings in person or through a phone call. Most experiences are probably somewhere in the middle and if there is negative feedback, it often comes at checkout or when a negative online review is posted, far too late for the hotel to recover.
In this case study, we highlight how La Cantera Resort & Spa leveraged the power of text messaging to improve guest communication, reduce cancellations, drive more onsite revenue and lead to its best ever guests satisfaction scores.
About La Cantera Resort & Spa
Located in San Antonio, La Cantera is a premier luxury resort overlooking 550 acres of The Texas Hill Country, offering guests a unique country style experience for a romantic or family style getaway.
Catching Up with Technology
Providing a hassle-free and relaxing experience is what La Cantera is known for. However, the resort was behind the times when it came to communication technology.
“How is it that my landscaping guy who barely uses the computer has a web chat feature that he uses to sell me rocks for my garden but we’re a 500-room property commanding $80M dollars a year and we can’t talk to our customers through the internet,” Chris Nelbach, Director of Revenue at La Cantera said in a recent webinar. “We knew we had to evolve!”
As they have found over the years, traditional communication methods like email and phone calls were becoming less effective and inefficient when it came to engaging guests throughout their stay.
In particular, Chris recognized there was a huge gap in guest communication between check-in and check-out. This was crucial because there was no way to find out if a guest was happy with their stay until they had left the resort, which could be too late and potentially lead to negative reviews. Chris wanted to find a way to get ahead of that by having a real-time form of communication convenient for both his guests and his staff.
Feeling like La Cantera was falling behind competitors in this area, Chris wanted to give guests a way to use their mobile devices and text messaging as another way to reach his staff for any questions or service requests. While traveling for business, Chris stayed at a hotel offering this and loved how seamless the experience was from the guest perspective.
Proving the Hypothesis Wrong in a Good Way
Initially, when La Cantera launched Zingle’s messaging-based customer engagement platform, Chris and his team expected their phone call volume would decrease because people would turn to text messaging instead of calling. But he was wrong!
Chris quickly learned that call volumes did not go down after launching the texting service, but there was a rapid and steady increase in guests texting the staff. Chris was thrilled at what that meant.
“The guests that were asking us questions and communicating with us through messaging were ones not communicating with us on the phone before,” said Chris about how the new line of communication opened up new and personal relationships with far more guests. La Cantera is exchanging more than 2,000 messages a month with guests.
Providing Convenience that Guests Demand
To get guests to use the texting service, getting proper opt-ins was important. Chris’ staff proactively lets guests know about the option during check-in and collects guests’ mobile numbers as well as providing cards and flyers that promote the service and text number. Shortly after check-in, an automated message is sent to guests.
Chris also stated that because the typical hotel guest interactions are transactional, creating conversations with guests really sets the stage for a great experience during the entire stay. The reception from guests has been overwhelmingly positive as about only 1 out of 100 guests have opted out of the texting service.
With the positive reception from guests, it opened up a variety of use cases for the resort. Not only did it provide an elevated level of convenience for guests to easily ask questions or request services, but the resort has been able to gamify promotions to guests. For example, La Cantera sent out a text message survey to guests asking them what is the most popular drink at the bar, and guests could go ask the bartender and receive a special coupon.
This is a great example of thinking outside the box and designing an experience for guests that is fun and memorable.
Driving Revenue through Personalized Offers
As a Director of Revenue, boosting onsite spend at La Cantera’s many amenities like restaurants, spas, golf, and other activities was high on the list of priorities for Chris.
Through text messaging, Chris was able to send out announcements to all guests notifying them of happy hour specials, brunch times and other activities and events going on at the resort.
These announcements would not be possible without the capabilities of an automated text messaging software like Zingle as it is not feasible to put flyers in each room or call every guests to notify them every day. “Without using a platform like Zingle, we could only talk to a few of our guests. But with Zingle, we can talk to every guest in a personalized way,” said Chris.
Impact of Real-time Personalized Communication at Scale
The speed and efficiency of texting also helped La Cantera prevent cancelations. Chris explained that whenever it rains, some guests want to cancel the rest of their stay because of the resort’s plentiful outdoor amenities.
Prior to having a texting service, there was little the resort could do to keep the guests. But with Zingle, Chris’ staff can quickly get ahead of wet forecasts and send out a message letting guests know that the outdoor movie has been moved inside, and even though it’s raining, there are still plenty of other indoor activities to enjoy. Using this proactive approach, Chris saw the number of in-stay early checkouts drop.
From answering simple questions immediately to updating guests on events and offering fun and personalized promotions, La Cantera has developed a far more personal connection with guests and the results are easy to see.
“In the first two months we used Zingle, we had the highest guest scores we’ve ever had,” Chris said. “So step back, what changed those months? We implemented the platform. Nothing else changed. And we continue to see those amazing results! We are getting things done for guests that they weren’t even asking us for before. It really all translates to the guest experience.”
Hotel experiences today are more than just a comfy bed and pillow. Not engaging guests during their stay is a sure way for guests to forget about your hotel, or even worse, lead to a negative review that could have been prevented. On the flipside, when you provide a personalized way for guests to communicate with staff in a convenient way, everyone feels like a VIP. If you ever visit La Cantera Resort and need something, just text them!
Want to learn more? Watch the La Cantera Webinar