How technological innovations allow hoteliers to better connect with guests
Businesses spent much of the pandemic, especially during the early weeks and months, scrambling to communicate with their customers. With expansive databases and expensive email programs in place, email communication saw a resurgence. Yet, as the pandemic continued, companies realized that successfully delivering an email to a customer’s inbox was no guarantee it would be read.
For hoteliers, often needing to inform guests of service changes as a result of COVID-19, the ability to engage with guests was essential. To better connect with guests, hotels looked to other sectors such as government, health care, and e-commerce. By looking across different industries, it became clear that the key to engagement is to be where your guests are, making it easy for them to see and engage with your communications.
To reach people quickly, businesses turned to text messages. During the pandemic, text messages sent by businesses surged 400%. In today’s mobilefirst world, smart messaging delivered to pocket-held devices is 35 times more likely to be opened compared to emails. Simply put, people want short, easily digestible communication.
Short messages also are more likely to spur recipients into action, as the average response time for instant cell phone messages is 90 seconds vs. 90 minutes for emails. For service industries such as hospitality, this delay can be the difference between a happy or a disgruntled customer.
THE TIES THAT BIND
Smartphones have become indispensable tools for nearly everyone across society. These tools double as offices and provide a vital connection to faraway family and friends. For hotel guests, cell phones are used throughout the guest journey from researching and booking travel to sharing experiences through social media and review sites.
The way guests use their cell phones, however, is unique to them. Some prefer making calls, some prefer promotional communications via email, and others prefer the more-immediate engagement of instant messaging. With the ever-increasing number of messaging channels, consumers have their own preferences on how they engage. Some are instant messaging devotees, peppering their messages with emojis, while others prefer to engage with a business’s Instagram page with queries about the best local restaurants.
According to research and anecdotal observations, a majority of us use our phones most for checking, sending, and answering text messages throughout our day. This represents an opportunity for hoteliers to bridge any disconnect with guests, as technology can help hotels automate messages and scale communication across a number of existing platforms and even translate messages into other languages.
USE YOUR WORDS
Communicating with your guests on their preferred channel is the best way to connect with them. Communicating with them in their native language is even more efficient. But with hoteliers already short-staffed and under-resourced, how can your team communicate across hundreds of channels and languages? That’s where technology comes in, with smart messaging systems able to consolidate communication channels into one platform and translate language in real time. This makes connecting with guests easier and more effective for hoteliers.
Technology can go even further and analyze guest sentiment, incorporating changes to automated messages you may have set up to empathize with the guest’s emotional state.
Smart messaging not only helps build meaningful relationships with guests, but it can save your staff time and shape intelligent guest profiles. Technology has already driven refinement in operations and improving the customer experience. Recent innovations can deliver personalized services and interactions at scale, meeting specific needs of each individual guest.
The first text message was sent in 1992. It’s taken many businesses 30 years to find value in this low-touch channel. Post-pandemic, consumers expect more from the brands they interact with. Guests traveling in 2022 will demand more information, better digital services, and a two-way communication channel. Smart messaging presents hoteliers with an easy-to-use, low-cost, and high-return option to meet these demands.