About Texas A&M Hotel & Conference Center
Texas A&M Hotel & Conference Center is located on the beautiful and historic Texas A&M campus. Housed in a striking glass tower across from Kyle Field and near the Memorial Student Center, the hotel and conference center provides stunning accommodations to host current and former students and their parents, wedding celebrations, meetings and conferences, Aggie football fans and visitors doing business with the university.
In this interview with Zingle SVP Jason Hekl and Tiaan Homann, Director of Rooms at Texas A&M Hotel & Conference Center, we explore why Tiaan chose to use messaging as a new channel for guest communication and how it proved to reduce phone call volume from guests and helped staff become more efficient while reducing labor costs.
Thank you for your time today Tiaan. As a new hotel that just opened up a few months ago, can you give me a little background on what you’re doing at the new hotel and how you came to the decision of using Zingle for guest communication?
I personally have not used any sort of text or messaging service before and Zingle was introduced to me during the rollout and at first, I thought great, another system to learn.
There was some hesitation from staff to use it, but after some training, everyone just loved messaging with guests. It’s amazing to see those interactions and both our staff and our guests are embracing it. It definitely helped us in terms of call volume.
On the operational side, it has been a huge help when guests checkout with us via text. These days, everybody is on the go so that adds another level of convenience for our guests.
Our guests can literally lay in their bed and ask for whatever they need when they need it, just by sending us a text. Some guests still use the phone, but it’s amazing to see how many people actually use the service and the response times have gone down significantly from our staff using the texting service as they are able to respond to multiple questions and requests, which is never possible on the phone.
Zingle also helps eliminate some element of human error when trying to understand what the guest is asking for. Since the request is sent via text, the entire process becomes more streamlined and the use of message templates also speeds up the response time.
As someone that strives to ensure every guest is taken care of, Zingle gives me confidence that all guest requests are responded to and I won’t go into work the next morning see a list of guest complaints from guests not being responded to.
From the service perspective, it definitely helped a lot since everything these days is all about using technology to speed up service and reduce errors.
So it sounds like some of the use cases you have it for service, integrated into HotSOS, you can create tickets from Zingle, what are some other ways you are using the texting service?
We send out a pre-arrival message to guests welcoming them to our hotel and let them know right away that they can text this number for anything that they need. A large volume of our guests are returning guests, so continuing to educate them about the service has increased the usage of Zingle over time.
The more they use it, the more they love it.
It alleviates so many constraints during check-in when guests can request things like a Pack ‘n Play or a specific room via text, which allows our staff to fulfill those requests even before the guest arrives at our hotel.
People don’t read their emails these days, so it’s easy to just send a short text. We can get ahead of questions and do the legwork by having a messaging service.
One challenge we do have is that during game days, parking can be a challenge so we get a ton of calls about parking, but with Zingle, we send them a text with parking instructions even before they arrive so it helps keep our guests informed and avoids the need to call.
You mentioned that Zingle has an impact on call volume, are you seeing call volumes go down since deploying Zingle?
Yes definitely, by letting guests know about the service with the pre-arrival message and during check-in, our guests have taken advantage of that and call volumes have decreased and message volume has increased over time since we launched the service.
“Our guests have taken advantage of that and call volumes have decreased and message volume has increased over time since we launched the service.”
What did you do to drive adoption from staff when you introduce a new technology like Zingle?
As with any new change in process or technology, people are usually resistant to it, but once our staff started seeing the ease of use, they just love it. We even have some staff using Zingle on their Apple Watches. The younger employees adopted it faster because it’s what they are used to just like texting with friends. This allowed them to check in guests while submitting service orders, which made their lives easier.
You mentioned a couple of ways you let guests know about the texting service including welcome messages and during check-in. What have you been doing to reinforce the availability of the service to your guests?
We have a lot of return guests including parents visiting their children at the university, so in our post-stay surveys, we include a message stating that when they return, there is a text number they can use for expedited service.
Also, besides the front desk agent verbally telling guests about the texting service, we also include a card with the text number in their key packet so it’s really reinforced throughout their stay with us. Over time, it has become routine for our staff, so every morning they would sign into the booking system, the PMS, and then Zingle.
Any future use cases and applications you’re looking to do?
Everything is really moving towards the future in terms of getting things done faster, so we’re looking into expediting the entire experience with self-service check-in as well as sending Bluetooth keys to guest phones so that they don’t even have to stand in line to check-in if they don’t want to.
Since I mentioned earlier that parking can sometimes be a challenge for our guests, having an automated message sent out with parking instructions can definitely alleviate confusion and calls we get from guests asking where to park, especially on football game days.
Zingle would be a great supplement for us to communicate these features to guests in an automated way.
Nowadays, everyone including grandmothers has a mobile phone on them at all times, so I think that is the best way to reach people quicker and provides another option for our guests. If they don’t want to text, they can easily opt out and we’re still here to serve you in the way you prefer whether it’s by phone in person.
In our industry labor is our biggest cost and we’re always looking for ways to reduce it, so having a system like Zingle helps us with that. For example, instead of slipping paper receipts under each guest doors, we can easily send out a text with that same information which saves staff time and paper costs.
Since we are not a big brand name, we can be more flexible and try out different things faster and learn from them. For us, it’s all about continuous improvement.
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