Save Time, Reduce Response Times and Increase Revenue Opportunities using Guest Messaging Software
Do you find yourself frustrated trying to keep ahead of the curve with the unending volume of incoming messages? Are you interested in saving time, reducing response times and increasing revenue opportunities? If you are, then you should keep reading!
Increasingly, communications are taking place not by phone, by email or in person but through messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and of course, SMS. Why? Well, let’s be honest, we are all attached to our phones and it is so comfortable to open our favorite app to order a pizza, book a stay at our favorite hotel or even make a reservation at a popular restaurant!
But what happens if you want to order a delicious pizza from your favorite place and they are not connected on an app or worse, it takes you more than one step via that app to contact them - and then they do not respond quickly enough or at all? More than likely, because you are hungry, you move on to the next pizza place that does respond quickly and delivers you that tasty pizza you were craving for, right? Yes, that is exactly what we all do because we crave for excellent service and we will always bookmark that experience so we can return for more. This perfect scenario is the definition of creating loyalty with our guests.
Sadly, the opposite is true as well. By not being connected or by not responding quickly enough, the pizza place not only lost a sale but possibly lost a customer too. In today’s climate this is a situation that we simply can not afford, especially in the hospitality and tourism sectors.
As travelers, we also gravitate to this type of messaging because it is easy and incredibly convenient therefore it is understandable why travelers are sending such an inconceivable volume of messages to hotels. Like all of us, we want to communicate in a way that makes us comfortable. This provides us, as hoteliers, the perfect opportunity to connect with travelers - to answer questions, take bookings, upgrade, cross-sell and also, resolve issues in real-time - to provide an elevated level of guest service.
Quick Fact: According to Skift, they estimate that there are more than 3.6 billion users worldwide that have adopted messaging as their preferred communication method. Therefore, it is only natural to then use the messaging platforms for businesses. So much so, there is “a growing enthusiasm for texting-based interfaces among potential hotel customers. More than 90% of respondents from the US and UK said that responding to hotel companies via text message would either be “very” or “somewhat” useful.” (Source: Case Study by OpenMarket)
The study went on to say that “Travelers liked these text interfaces for a number of reasons, including the ability to avoid calling the front desk and being able to easily access confirmation details. More than 53% of respondents said they found texting hotels useful because they could have their confirmation number easily accessible, while nearly 31% liked that they didn’t have to use a landline phone to contact hotel staff.”
With the overabundance of messaging apps currently being used by consumers, the question of adopting guest messaging software in the hospitality industry is no longer just an idea of if it should be implemented. On the contrary, it is now a matter of when and here are 5 reasons why hotels and resorts should consider implementing guest messaging software.
5 Reasons why hotels should implement Guest Messaging Software
What is Guest Messaging Software?
Guest Messaging Software (GMS), according to HotelTechReport, “is a software platform that enables hotels to engage with their guests through various messaging channels in real-time. The GMS allows hotels to send transactional messages, reply to guests, and manage guest requests. With an aggregate messaging platform, hotels can increase guest engagement, boost customer service scores, and receive key insights to guests’ sentiment.”
1. Guests no longer want to stand in line, use the phone or send an email
In an age where every product and service are literally at your fingertips, it is only natural for us as consumers to expect that the hospitality industry is included in this evolution. In fact because of email, text messaging and social media - the sheer volume of these cross-platform communications whether it be for booking accommodations or sharing experiences, has risen exponentially.
Therefore, it is critical to be responsive to these external pressures of consumer expectations with speed and efficiency by aggregating all inbound messages using Guest Messaging Software to maintain a personal guest experience. By doing so, customer service is elevated because individual needs and wants are addressed directly in real-time.
The “pizza scenario” I mentioned above is the perfect example of this situation in real life and it happens more often than you may think. But now, since that perfect “connection” took place, let’s take it to the next step.
2. Save time and money while increasing efficiency and reducing response times
With the rapid increase of inbound messages coming from a variety of platforms, Guest Messaging Software not only aggregates these cross-platform messages but allows for key features like autoreplies to be implemented to provide an instant response. Additionally, guest relation personnel can create saved templates for typical questions to ensure consistent responses. Not to mention building an easily queried digital help desk that understands keywords or phrases and provides an instant answer to a question.
A new feature to most guest messaging platforms is AI bots. This new technology can be utilized to further increase efficiency and reduce response times through pre-determined conversation flows.
Now, imagine for a moment sending a message - “I would like to order a pizza for pick up” with an instant response of; “No problem, what toppings would you like?” You specify and the conversation continues to the point where “it will be ready in 30 minutes for pick-up”! Believe it or not… this simple example used pre-programmed responses for the entire conversation! But, this conversation does not end here because you have not taken the next step yet.
3. Create excellent guest experiences and decrease missed revenue opportunities
The use of Guest Messaging Software should be at the core of the hotel experience, whether it is before, during or after the trip. Guest Messaging Software not only aggregates cross-channel messages, but it also provides the ability to monitor communications, analyze results, and optimize revenue by creating guest profiles thus increasing the overall guest experience because of predictive needs, leading to a more individualized offer.
Additionally, guests can easily app requests to guest relations at any time of day, on or off property, to ask questions or even ask directions while exploring. This kind of close communication provides an immediate and personal service opportunity and that leads to excellent guest relationships.
Whether it is ordering a pizza or communicating with your guests, the concepts of creating excellent experiences remain the same. For instance, guest profiles allow you to anticipate your guests needs and provides you an instant ability to up-sell or cross-sell to create new revenue streams.
In our pizza scenario the upsell could be extra toppings or a larger size while the cross-sell would be adding beverages, desert and so on. But here is the real big win for creating excellent guest experiences - you can create a profile now for this guest and when you communicate with them again, you can anticipate what they need and welcome them back by:
“Hey John, welcome back! Did you want the same xlarge loaded pizza as last time with 2 soft drinks? By the way, we also have a killer new desert we added to our menu. Would you like to add that to the order?”
This strategy leads right into my next reason - why you need to talk to your guest!
4. Talk to your guest - use conversations as a sales and marketing strategy
Conversational marketing is not a new concept. Sales people all around the world have been effectively using one on one conversation as a sales tool for generations to create personal relationships and to influence the discussion in an advantageous way.
Today, this highly personalized approach has evolved to engaging with guests via social channel audiences and website visitors, usually in real time. Whether it is in person or digitally, this form of communication encourages and promotes movement down the sales funnel because it encourages relationship building and trust with your audience.
“Messaging apps are ideal for entering into real dialogue. It’s the natural communication on WhatsApp and Co – I write, and someone answers. Sure, dialogue marketing is quite an old hat – but never before has it been so easy and so effective for companies to communicate with their customers. You just have to be brave! Gartner estimates that the number of inquiries via messaging apps will double every year. In five years from now, no company will operate without offering messaging app service.” – source: Matthias Mehner, CMO MessengerPeople
Conversational marketing takes the form of real-time messaging using social platforms, live chat or as mentioned earlier, it can be an automated process of connecting with the audience using chatbots.
In short, employing guest messaging software builds a stronger relationship with your audience right from the beginning because it creates the opportunity to identify needs and wants directly with the guest whereby the interaction becomes personal instead of generic push messages.
5. Enhancing Brand Value and Creating Guest Loyalty
Do you hate receiving ads automatically - maybe even getting “pushed ads” for products and services that you are not even interested in? Well I am sure everyone does not appreciate SPAM or irrelevant notifications. So, stop trying to push so much and decide to continue the conversation with guests with influence either during or after their stay.
Push Marketing strategies are still relevant and a valuable approach for generic promotional offers and to generally increase overall brand awareness. However the conversational marketing strategy is an invaluable approach, that creates brand equity and drives value, that is easily automated via guest messaging software with pre-determined and relevant messages.
An excellent example of employing this strategy effectively would be programming the guest messaging software to solicit hotel reviews upon check-out. As we all know positive hotel reviews are an especially important component for success, maybe now more than ever before due to decreased occupancy levels and the increased competition of destinations that guests can choose from. More importantly, leaving a review is not top of mind for most guests when exiting the hotel. But if prompted to leave a review that includes a thank you message and a link for the review, studies have shown that a higher-than-average positive response rate will occur.
With these 5 reasons why hotels and resorts should consider implementing guest messaging software in mind, the question now becomes when?