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September 6, 2018

Why Hotels Should Integrate Text Messaging into The Guest Experience

Why Hotels Should Integrate Text Messaging into The Guest Experience

Today’s hotel guests demand instant service, but many hotels fail to provide it. Why?
It’s not because they don’t want to, it’s mainly because they fail to use and integrate the right technologies to deliver the best guest experience possible.

A recent Hospitality Technology Report from Fuel Marketing showed that the number one technology challenge is the “Lack of Integration Between Products”.

Outdated processes and isolated systems are two major issues that can have a negative impact on both hotel operations as well as the guest experience.

Consumers today manage their entire lives from the smartphones, so it’s crucial for hotels to take advantage of the mobile-first mindset and engage guests through the convenience of text messaging to provide a higher and more personalized level of service.

Enabling guests to text message staff for questions and requests is a good start point, but when hotels integrate guest data from their Property Management System (PMS) into the messaging experience, it becomes a personalized gust engagement tool that cannot be matched by any other channel.

According to IBM, more than 70% of hotel guests report having positive experiences with personalization.

Personalization can be delivered through many channels like a website, email, phone, app, messaging and even in person. However, the effectiveness of personalization relies heavily on guest data, which serves as the fuel for personalized experiences.
By combining the fuel of robust guest data with the convenience of text messaging, hotels have the power to communicate with guests in a personalized way.

Here are some examples of hotels leveraging PMS data to engage guests with personalized text messages.

Welcome Your Guests with a Personalized Message

Even before guests check in, hotels are leveraging the check-in date of their guests to send a personalized welcome message that includes check-in time, directions to the hotel as well as offering relevant services based on the type of guest they are.

For example, for guests that are traveling by air, an offer for shuttle service may be included in the welcome message. If a guest is traveling with small children, they would receive activity recommendations in their welcome message.

The more information a hotel has about their guests, the more personalized the text message communication will be. This is why it’s important to collect as much information as possible during the booking process so it can be leveraged to enhance and personalize the stay.

Notify Guests When Room is Ready

One common issue hotel front desk staff face is having guests continuously walking up to them or calling them every five minutes to ask if their room is ready. This creates a long line in the lobby as well as a huge number of unnecessary phone calls.

To combat this, hotels are leveraging housekeeping data to automate text messages to guests when their room has been cleaned and ready to check in.

How this works is when a housekeeping staff finishes cleaning a room, they will mark it in the system as complete, but instead of the front desk having to check in the system every time a guest asks, an automated text message can be sent to guests immediately after the housekeeper updates it in the system, eliminating the time needed from front desk staff to manually call each guest, which is a huge time saver, especially during busy times.

Personalize Promotions in Real-time

One of the biggest challenges I hear from hoteliers is the ability to upsell guests during their stay. Passive strategies like signs and flyers are good, but often lack the engagement from guests that hotels are looking for. Plus it’s not personal.

Text messaging is a great way to engage guests with promotions in a personalized way to serve their in-the-moment needs. Each type of guest, whether they are traveling along, for business or with a family, the needs are very different and if hotels are going to be sending text message promotions, they better be relevant and timely, otherwise, it can frustrate the guest.

For example, a hotel that knows a traveler is staying for a sales meeting may get a promotion for a round of golf to help close that sale. If a couple is on their honeymoon, they may receive a special on a romantic couples massage and dinner package to make their experience even more special.

One out of the box example is the Talbott Hotel in Chicago. They leveraged guests’ checkout date to send an automated promotional text message for a late checkout & extended stay offer. Any guests that are scheduled to check out the next day received a text message the night before. With this simple message, Talbott Hotel generated over $5000 additional weekly revenue from guests responding to this promotion. This goes to show that if you make it easy for guests to spend, they will.


Streamlining Guest Requests

Speaking of making it easy for guests to spend, hotels are using texting messaging to serve virtually every guest need. By integrating text messaging software with the hotel PMS, processing guest requests can be streamlined, making fulfillment easier and smoother while speeding up service time.

Traditionally, the process to fulfill a guest request is manual and time-consuming. With the old way, the guest has to either call down to the front desk to be put on hold or walk down to the lobby just to stand in line. Also, requests that are done verbally can often lead to errors due to miscommunication in loud places or just simply a misunderstanding of the guest request.

By enabling guests to text message requests directly to staff, they avoid the need to wait, while improving service accuracy as it’s directly typed in by the guest, so there is rarely any confusion when it comes to what the guest needs.

Here is where the PMS integration with a text messaging software is most valuable.
For example, if a guest is out for a run and wants her room to be cleaned when she gets back, she can simply send a text message to the hotel. That message then gets automatically routed to housekeeping who can immediately start fulfilling the request without manual routing by the front desk.

With a PMS integration, the housekeeping staff also knows which room the request is coming from, so once the room has been cleaned, the housekeeper can simply mark the task as complete which can trigger a confirmation text message to the guest letting her know that her room has been cleaned.

Instantly Measuring Guest Satisfaction

It all comes down to guest satisfaction. Without satisfied guests, hotels don’t get good online reviews. Without good online reviews, hotels lose business. It’s that simple.

Wouldn’t it be great if all happy guests leave a positive TripAdvisor review and all unsatisfied guests would call or send an email with their constructive feedback?

Unfortunately, that’s not the reality.

If hotels want to increase guest feedback, both positive and negative, they have to take an active approach to collect feedback, and there are two important things to that must be included in the strategy: Timeliness and Convenience.

I have seen hotels give guests these feedback cards which often get left in the rooms or even thrown in the trash even before they leave the parking lot. Emails are good, but by the time they check out and leave the hotel, it’s too late.

Innovative hotels today are leveraging the guest checkout date from their PMS to automate a text message guest feedback survey. If you think about it, it makes total sense because texting is the only solution that is both timely and convenient.

Sending guest satisfaction surveys via text increases the likelihood that the message will be read and responded to, and also enables hotels to improve service recovery.

When guests respond negatively to a text survey, hotel manager on duty can be immediately notified via text message, email or phone call to respond to the guest and resolve any issues before they leave the property. The feedback information can be stored in the hotel PMS to help staff better understand the guests when they return and be used for improvement in the future.

For hotels that use a guest messaging software that has an integration with online review sites like TripAdvisor, it’s a great way for them to boost reviews and ratings.

For example, if a guest responds positively to a feedback survey, they will receive another message with a link to leave a TripAdvisor review without the need for them to log in or create an account! That’s the definition of timely and convenient.

As you can see, there are many benefits of integrating a guest text messaging solution with a hotel PMS to improve the experience for the guest as well as optimizing operational efficiency and employee productivity.

If you would like to learn more about how Zingle can integrate into your PMS, SCHEDULE A STRATEGY SESSION TODAY.

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