The guest experience for campers is different than someone staying at a five-star hotel. However, this does not mean the camping experience can’t be five-star.
In this case study, learn how Nashville KOA increased guest engagement, boosted their NPS scores and positive reviews by getting personal with guests using text messaging.
About Nashville KOA
Kampgrounds of America is one of the most recognized brands in North America. Since 1962, KOA has been delivering outdoor hospitality to all varieties of campers from travelers looking for a convenient stop-over to families seeking a fun getaway in the outdoors. As a property with over 350,000 square feet, Nashville KOA offers RV sites, deluxe cabins, rustic cabins and plenty of room for tents across a sprawling campground that includes a resort pool and activity park.
Introducing Messaging for KOA Guests
The concept of using a mobile messaging platform in hospitality is nothing new to Aaron Williamson, the General Manager of Nashville KOA.
Aaron first experienced it in a hotel when he was staying in Amsterdam and received a “welcome to the hotel” text message prior to arrival. It let him know he could text any questions or requests, which Aaron thought was a nice touch, but not something he’d use.
However, when he checked into this room, he noticed it wasn’t cleaned properly. Instead of going back downstairs, he remembered the texting service and informed the staff by sending a message. He immediately got a response with an apology and a staff member quickly came to his rescue and walked him to an upgraded and clean room. Aaron became an instant fan of the service and immediately saw the value of text messaging for businesses.
When Kampgrounds of America corporate considered the idea of adding messaging as a way to enhance the guest experience to his sprawling campground in Nashville, Aaron was immediately on board. After careful consideration, he chose Zingle’s guest engagement platform as the messaging partner for Nashville KOA because of its automation and personalization capabilities along with the guidance and support from the Zingle customer success team.
Now eight months later, Aaron estimates his staff is using text messaging to have real-time conversations with 20% of the guests and the property has seen improved guest satisfaction scores and better online reviews. Let’s find out how he did it with Zingle.
Increasing Efficiency and Improving Service with Automation
Aaron wanted to incorporate messaging not just for simple requests, but to use it in a way that enhanced the entire guest experience at Nashville KOA, starting from before the guests even arrive.
Similar to his experience in Amsterdam, one of the first things Aaron set up was a pre-arrival welcome message informing guests of the texting service and inviting them to simply text any requests.
He didn’t stop there, though. To help guests enjoy their stay, the hotel sends out a schedule of daily activities.
These messages don’t require an employee to manually send them to every guest. With Zingle’s automated workflows — or “Zings” as we call them — and the ability to segment guests by check-in/checkout date, the welcome message and daily activities messages can be easily automated based on the data.
Additional automated responses are also set up to help streamline answers to common questions like “where is the grocery store?” or “where is the nearest healthcare facility?”
By automating answers to simple and frequent questions. Nashville KOA frees up the staff from answering the same questions over and over by phone and email.
Most of the guest-facing staff members at Nashville KOA monitor Zingle on a daily basis, including Aaron himself, along with the operations manager, the front-desk supervisor and all front-desk agents. There are at least four to five people monitoring Zingle at all times and Aaron expects guests to receive a response within 60 seconds.
“Our front desk supervisor loves it because it allows her to engage guests in a positive and friendly manner without them having to wait in line,” said Aaron. “Sometimes you have 3, 5 or 7 people in line in front of you, and you don’t have time. And a lot are asking simple questions. If Zingle can handle those questions, there are going to be less people in line. So she has more facetime for those guests who are checking in or out and it’s a better experience for them, as well as those getting their answers right away via text.”Aaron Williamson – General Manager – Nashville KOA
Improving Guest Experiences with a Personal Touch – A True Story
Aaron recalls a story that shows the power of real-time communication and the benefits of having more engaged guests. On the last day of a multi-night stay, a woman texted that she wanted to spend an extra night because her husband was not feeling well.
Instead of texting back, Aaron called her to say he hoped everything was OK and to make sure her reservation was extended. A little bit later, he texted her to see how things were and to share where the nearest medical facilities were just in case.
She never responded, but a couple days later, Aaron saw a review that called out the exceptional service and that she wanted to come back because of that experience.
“She said no matter where else she travels in the world, she wants to come back to Nashville and stay with us because we care,” said Aaron. “I’m glad guests are contacting me when there are issues because it enables me to make it right and improve their experience.”
To make communication more personal and fun, Aaron encourages his employees to use emojis in their text messages.
“I know it sounds funny, but for guests, using emojis feels more personal and like the text was made just for them and they respond in kind,” he explained. “We try to be more casual and feel more human to guests and it works really well.”
The Impact of Zingle on the Guest Experience
Due to the effectiveness of Zingle for guest communication, Nashville KOA has replaced email communication with text messages!
The frequency and volume of text messages exchanged with guests have increased over time and Aaron says 50% respond to that initial pre-arrival message and then 20% engage in conversation beyond that during the stay.
From a guest satisfaction standpoint, Aaron said that since implementing Zingle their online reviews have gotten better and many mention how much the guests love the convenience and speed of the texting service.
“Since using Zingle, our NPS scores have climbed two points,” said Aaron, adding that 99% of the text message interactions with guests have been positive.Aaron Williamson – General Manager – Nashville KOA
Traveling can be stressful, even if it’s for a vacation. By letting guests know you are there for them and making it easy for them to engage your staff, you can alleviate potential pain points and create more personal relationships with guests. The reward, as Aaron and Nashville KOA, discovered, is happier and more engaged guests, better reviews and more return visits.
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