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July 9, 2019

Luxury Coastal Vacations Uses Messaging to Give Guests a Personal Touch

2018-Luxury Coastal Vacations Case Study-blog-header-image-3

In hospitality, it’s all about the guest experience and taking the extra step to treat your guests like family.

Not surprisingly, guest safety is at the top of the priority list, especially for hotels and resorts located near the Caribbean or other areas prone to tropical storms and hurricanes.

Being able to send real-time alerts whenever there are storm warnings in a timely manner is crucial to ensure the safety of both guests, staff members and the property itself.

In this case study, learn how Luxury Coastal Vacations leveraged messaging and Zingle’s guest engagement platform to streamline emergency notification and mid-stay engagement to improve the guest experience, while also improving staff efficiency.

About Luxury Coastal Vacations

Luxury Coastal Vacations in Perdido Key, Florida offers the best vacation rental options in Perdido Key and Orange Beach. They handle more than 300 luxury vacation rentals, including the largest rental selection of condos for rent at the beautiful Indigo Resort in Perdido Key. Summer tourists from all over the world travel to Perdido Keys every year to enjoy kayaking, fishing, dolphin watching or simply relaxing on the beach.

Tourism During Hurricane Season

Typically, the Atlantic hurricane season runs from the beginning of June until late November, with peak periods from August to October.

Coincidentally, this is also the time when schools are out and families are planning their summer vacations.

Historically, there is a low risk that a storm would affect vacation plans. However, the risk is still there and guests who stay at a Luxury Coastal Vacations rental property need to be notified whenever there is a hurricane or storm warning to ensure the safety of the guests as well as the properties, which are independently owned.

“We have 350 units and in the height of hurricane season we would call every single guest during any warning and ask them to move patio furniture or bring inside lighter stuff that could blow off balconies,” said Kenzie Carden, a marketing specialist at LCV. “Our team of six was calling everyone individually and if we couldn’t get in touch, we’d have to deploy our team to make sure. We wanted to find something that made it easy to get the information out and be able to get a response back. We needed something instantaneous.”

Communication Challenges

With over 300 managed units, the staff at LCV had to manually call each guest to alert them whenever there was a storm warning and instruct them to put their patio furniture inside if they had not already done so.

This was a major challenge to the LCV team. They spent a lot of time trying to reach everyone by phone, and often didn’t connect with all guests. That meant the maintenance crew had to work longer hours and late nights visiting each property to ensure the furniture was properly secured.

The inefficiency in communication was creating additional stress for the LCV staff and their maintenance staff so they decided to look into messaging to improve this process.

“We would spend so much time on phones trying to reach people and they’d never see the emails we sent,” said Carden. “And then we’d have to send our maintenance team out and they were spending three days and at condos we couldn’t reach until 10 at night moving furniture. It was a really bad way to handle communication, especially with the stress on top of that because of the storm.”

Just Send a Text

Karen Fielder, Reservation Specialist at LCV, had previous experience with messaging when working with another resort and thought it could help LCV.

Karen chose Zingle as LCV’s guest messaging solution because of the segmentation and automation capabilities that enabled them to streamline communication in a more personalized way.

After implementing Zingle, the team at LCV is now able to send group messages to all in-stay guests to notify them about any hurricane or storm warnings and provide instructions — whether it’s moving the patio furniture indoors or evacuation information.

Messaging guests has proven to be a far more effective way to communicate. The staff is able to get immediate confirmation from guests instead of having to leave a voicemail and hoping the guest gets it.
Additionally, it eliminated the unnecessary workload from the maintenance staff.

Giving guests that personalized attention has translated into more positive reviews and guests now highlight the fact that they truly appreciate this higher level of service provided by the LCV staff.

Evolving Messaging to Improve the Guest Experience

LCV started using messaging for a very specific need, but the team quickly saw other applications of Zingle that could help them improve their guests’ experience and get ahead of negative reviews.

Prior to using Zingle, LCV would occasionally see negative reviews and learn about guest issues after the guest had left the property, far too late for LCV to recover.

As an example, during construction times, they would get reviews from guests saying things were not working properly. By the time they’d see the review, the guest was long gone.

By utilizing the survey feature in Zingle, LCV can now engage with guests during their stay with a quick feedback survey to ensure everything is to their satisfaction. If not, they can respond immediately and try to resolve the guest’s issue before they’ve left the property and post a negative review.

“We were struggling to get guest reviews, so any negative review brought our score down dramatically,” said Kenzie Garden, Marketing Specialist at LCV.

By sending satisfaction surveys combined with Zingle’s automation capabilities, LCV was able to easily encourage happy guests to leave an online review, while responding directly to less than happy guests while they were still on property. This strategy has helped improve service recovery and boosted positive online reviews.

Survey sent to guests night before checkout.

“On my end in marketing, it’s a really big help with review solicitation,” said Carden. “Being able to easily implement a text request for a review has really helped us get our review scores up.”

The check-in process has also been improved through messaging as LCV used to get over 60 calls a day from guests asking when their room would be ready.

With Zingle, LCV can send pre-arrival welcomes messages to guests letting them know when check-in time is and alerting them if the room is ready early.

“Texting has grown into a lot more than we thought,” said Fielder, a reservation specialist at LCV. “We’re not getting 60-70 calls anymore on Saturday mornings asking us if the unit is ready. We just text them to say we’ll let you know when it’s ready. We’re saving them time from calling us and it’s a lot less stress on us not answering all those extra calls on busy check-in days.”

Using Messaging to Fill Unsold Rooms

In recent years, the team at LCV had noticed that many travelers were booking more frequently but looking to spend fewer nights per visit. They adapted and modified their 7-night stay minimum to only 3 days. This created “gap nights” where a number of rooms might go unsold.

LCV is now looking to use Zingle to help fill rooms on those gap nights by sending guests a message letting them know their room is available for an additional night with a special discount. Knowing that not everyone will take advantage of this offer, especially if the guest is out of state and traveling by air, LCV intends to use segmentation to target these promotions to guests who are most likely to accept.

This is a great example of being creative in recovering potentially lost revenue by combining personalization and technology.

“This is the first time we are allowing beachfront properties to allow three nights or more but then we end up with one or two gap nights because of that,” explained Carden. “Most people aren’t going to book a $300-$400 condo with cleaning for just a night. So we’re planning to reach out to guests already there and say you can pay a little less than the full rate and stay an extra night or even check out super late since so many people drive through the night. We are working on the pricing now and really excited to get started.”

Summary

Delivering a great guest experience is all about eliminating the potential stress of travel and providing personal attention to every guest.

Luxury Coastal Vacations is a great example of going above and beyond to ensure not only the safety of their guests, but also providing a personalized experience. Mobile messaging has enabled LCV to improve guest communication, which is now driving higher satisfaction scores and overall brand loyalty.

“I love that guests feel like we are there for them constantly and that we’re able to talk to them on a more personal level than talking like a company. The personal touch has really set us apart from the competition.”

Kenzie Carden | Marketing Specialist

What Luxury Coastal Vacations guests say about their messaging experience.

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