What’s in it for me?
Post-COVID, a lot has changed! From the way you communicate with your website visitors to converting them into actual hotel guests, from the way you prepare for their arrival at your property to how you provide an unforgettable post stay experience, guests’ expectations seem to have evolved in all these aspects, thanks to the emphasis on contactless service made more popular and almost a necessity by the pandemic. To outperform in each of these areas, you’ll need a reliable technology like real-time guest messaging to ensure your property is in sync with the latest trends in hospitality, thereby meeting the guests’ expectations seamlessly! By the end of this article, a lot will fall in place regarding the implementation of this new-era technology!
As we kick off the new year, the hospitality industry seems to have gone through the most challenging phase. Even though the current situation indicates that the industry has largely recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is yet to deal with a market that has been transformed completely in the last couple of years. The dynamics between technology and travelers along with brand new segments of the customers, concerns, and sentiments have evolved and transformed. In this scenario, real-time guest messaging along with other available technologies can be leveraged to enhance hotel guest experience and remain in touch with the evolving trends in the domain.
The aim still remains the same, which is to make guests comfortable during their stay in a peaceful ambiance replete with hygiene and safety along with quality services through major contactless exchanges.
Guest Experience In The Hospitality Industry
Guest satisfaction can be regarded as a list of steps and processes that aims to provide guests with a memorable experience of a service that they have chosen to experience. As the expectations and demands of the guests grow, so does the complexity of successfully delivering the best hotel experience that will make them come back again and again. The art is to successfully be able to balance the needs of the business along with the dynamic nature of travel technology, and the savvy, resourceful attitudes of travelers.
In terms of providing a memorable guest experience and pleasing guests, ‘personalization’ is the key. However, optimizing the guest experience and ensuring guest expectations are met is a constantly evolving challenge for hoteliers. The plethora of options available at the fingertips of modern-day customers is yet another challenge that can be dealt with by using the various technologies available.
Trends That Are Set To Dominate In 2022 And Beyond!
Post-COVID majority of the hotels are yet to come to terms with the current technological trends, especially with tools such as real-time guest messaging, AI, and automated messaging platforms. The hotels should look to enhance hotel guest experience. The key to great customer experiences is perhaps one of the most severely impacted areas as hotels scramble to improve efficiency and increase revenue. The nature and characteristics of the crisis have necessitated contactless service. The pandemic in a way has accelerated and forced hotels to adopt and implement new technologies.
New technological trends and innovative features that were earlier regarded as additional conveniences have currently turned into a necessity for hotels to satisfy the new-era travelers prioritizing safety and health now more than ever.
Contactless Service Is Here To Stay!
Contactless services have rapidly gained momentum in the last couple of years and with various physical distancing norms in place worldwide, the challenge is to provide high-quality service while abiding by the various health guidelines implemented. However, the nature of the industry is customer-centric as it primarily depends on face-to-face interactions, physical presence, and more human contact. AI or artificial intelligence, the usage of robots among others hold the potential to provide the much-needed boost for hotels to improve their performance and generate revenue regularly. By leveraging technology such as real-time guest messaging, the hospitality industry can provide a personalized guest experience. In order to enhance hotel guest experience, it is crucial to deliver a hassle-free and quality guest experience. It is important to comprehend and anticipate the needs and expectations of the guests in advance.
Contactless Mobile Check-In Services
Contactless customer service primarily eliminates the phenomenon of human contact either partially or fully. As per the various health protocols related to customer safety, traditional face-to-face guest communication in hotels stands to increase the risks of contracting the virus. In such a scenario, contactless technology can be of immense help. Interactions of customers with the hotel at various checkpoints can be optimally designed to be handled digitally in providing customers with a safe, hassle-free, smooth and seamless experience.
70% of millennials would rather prefer a contactless hotel experience. With Gen Z customers this percentage is even higher.
One of the great advantages of implementing contactless services is that it doesn’t require you to remove the aspect of personal touch. In order to enhance hotel guest experience, it is important for you to win the trust of the customers in terms of service quality. Services that can optimally be utilized in synchronization with guest messaging have been discussed in the course of this article-
Real-Time Guest Messaging
It allows hotel operators and employees to successfully establish a personalized channel of communication with individual guests. It ensures optimal customer experience and staff workflows through real-time connectivity followed by timely responses to customer queries. Guest messaging platforms can be used by hotel staff, namely the receptionists and concierge attendants by complementing the traditional systems of communication. These messages can be further relayed to the hotel managers, room service attendants, and the housekeeping crew as per the requirement.
Implementation of such tools can help in eliminating or reducing unnecessary services, streamline the workforce and increase efficiency. This can further lead to the timely address of guest complaints or requests which, in turn, can drastically improve the quality of customer service and guest experience. Usually, guest messaging platforms communicate through text (SMS) but operating through email and other communication solutions, hotel text messaging apps are also available for usage.
- Express check-in – This feature paired with messaging allows guests or customers to bypass the tedious and cumbersome check-in process at the front desk of the hotel. The entire process can be simplified by introducing an application aimed at providing a hassle-free check-in process with merely two taps on the app. A link for express check-in or an express check-in form could be easily shared through messaging with guests, especially during pre-arrival to prepare in advance. Hotels like Wyndham have already implemented express check-in into their arsenal of customer service and have significantly managed to increase their operational efficiency and customer satisfaction levels.
- Digital keys – The constant developments in the field of technology have led to the adoption of mobile or digital keys which are rapidly modernizing organizations, streamlining operations, and changing the guest experiences. It is a great tool for hoteliers and guests alike to enhance hotel guest experience and make their stay a wonderful memory to look back to.
Once a booking is made in a hotel, a booking confirmation mail can be sent to the guest containing a link to download the mobile application key prior to their arrival. Upon the arrival of the guest, the PMS automatically informs the mobile key platform about their arrival which, in turn, responds by sending a secure digital key to the mobile phone of the guest. The guest can use it to unlock their room door by simply tapping the button of the phone or by holding the mobile phone closer to the door.
Other hotel facilities such as gym, pool, and elevator among others could also be accessed through this feature. Upon checking out, an alert is automatically sent by the PMS to the mobile key platform which leads to the feature being disabled. Several hotels in the US have already started using room keys in apple wallets. Some of them are Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, Hyatt Centric Key West Resort & Spa, Hyatt House Chicago/West Loop-Fulton Market, etc.
Guest Messaging Across Various Stages Of The Guest Journey
Real-time guest messaging has an immense potential to enhance hotel guest experience during the stay. In order to forge a meaningful experience that will resonate with guests and turn them into fans for life, you should focus on authentic in-person interactions and personalized communication. It helps to understand what customers go through, ensuring consistency and a seamless experience at all touchpoints and across various channels.
This is where tools such as guest messaging can come in handy. Guests expect immediacy, whether it’s quick to search and book options, respond to their pre-stay or in-stay inquiries, or deal with cancellations. Hotels will need to use their staff smartly to make sure guests are serviced and hotel operations are seamless.
Real-time Guest Messaging allows staff employees to communicate with each other, from anywhere within the hotel, at any time, with a touch of a button. Guest messaging solutions give the additional boost to secure more hotel bookings, manage online check-in, and provide guest services digitally. This not only protects staff and guests but also gives the opportunity to reach guests instantly. Moreover, it helps in establishing a clear line of communication between the hotel and the guests and helps serve customers swiftly, thereby helping the management to enhance hotel guest experience.
Components Of The Guest Experience
In times of digitalization, emotions and unique experiences are increasingly sought-after by travelers, hotels, and restaurant guests. It is the “experience” that guests look for and not merely a stay. Today guests are looking beyond the basic and traditional aspects of the guest experience endeavor. Therefore, it is the need of the hour for the hospitality industry to create experience-oriented services that are associated with emotions.
In order to create conscious and positive emotions for guests, the entire sensory spectrum must be activated with verbal and non-verbal communication taken into account. A thorough understanding of what a great or ideal guest experience consists of requires one to be aware of the three components of guest experience, which are as follows:
• Communication – Communication is the key to providing a satisfactory and fulfilling experience to the guests. As a hotelier, it is important that you can clearly communicate with guests and other members of staff at every step of the hotel guest journey. Hotels have slowly begun to realize that guest messaging is a low-cost, high-value option to be responsive to the needs of the guests and share important information even before they arrive. Offering texting as a fast and convenient medium for guests to connect with hotels is one way to stand out from the crowd and be viewed favorably, especially among younger generations who use their smartphones to text far more often than to check their email or make calls.
• Convenience – The most significant impact of guest messaging is perhaps the aspect of convenience. Real-time guest messaging certainly aims to increase the level of comfort of the guests as,
nearly 80% of consumers prefer to communicate with a business via text, and 90% of text messages are read within 3 minutes of receipt.
The convenience of communicating from the comfort of the room can certainly enhance hotel guest experience in 2022. Right from ordering bed & breakfast to housekeeping at their choice of time, guest messaging boosts operational efficiency. Plenty of other things such as keeping in touch with a guest throughout their time at your hotel not only propels the guest experience to a new height but also facilitates loyalty.
• Choice – Each guest arrives at your hotel in different circumstances and for a different purpose. However, the process of guest arrival at most hotels is almost always similar. You can break the chain and choose to outshine others by providing the guests with various choices for logging in. For example – providing your guests with the additional option of checking in through their phones shall expedite their arrival in their rooms. Moreover, a kiosk can be provided to those who prefer to avoid lines and might want to quickly pick up their respective keys by notifying them about these services through Guest Messaging.
Sharing a digital amenity or concierge page is now easier through guest messaging which includes all the vital information about the guests’ stay- WiFi password, breakfast timings, gym and pool timings, restaurant recommendations, things to do, top attractions, weather details, etc. Details and tutorials regarding your hotel marketplace could also be shared easily by means of a link over the messaging app.
Virtual concierges have a wide range of marketing uses as well. It can be used to drive bookings and increase the hotel reservation along with promoting onsite amenities and guest resources to delight hotel guests and upsell. Allowing guests to book these services more easily takes away the barriers to booking.
Guest Messaging At The Pre-Arrival Stage
The pre-arrival stage is the first stage of the entire cycle of guest journey mapping. This is perhaps the most important stage of the entire cycle as it forms the initial impression of the hotel in the mind of the guests. Hotel text messaging can help you in creating a great first impression on your guests by instantly responding to their queries. These queries may range from a wide variety of issues from something as obvious as the room availability, asking about shuttle service, the type of breakfast to weather details, etc. all of which could be handled very well even before a visitor actually books with you.
Furthermore, it provides you with the chance of converting your potential visitors into customers because personalized communication is acting as one of the driving forces here. The most important aspect of this tool is the option of availability 24×7. Guest messaging helps you enhance hotel guest experience by providing prompt responses to the online traffic and in resolving queries faster to deliver a positive user experience.
Nowadays, you can schedule pre-arrival messages ahead of time which not only alerts your guests about their scheduled trip but at the same time works wonders for the hotel operations. The housekeeping crew could be informed in advance about the cleaning procedures for certain rooms wherein you are expecting your new arrival guests to stay. You can convey the same to the guests by scheduling the messaging 2-3 days prior to their arrival:
“Hello Selena, hope your journey is going great so far. We’re expecting you today at 3 pm at Hotel Lex. Your room will be instantly ready to use upon check-in.”
“Hello Max, hope your journey to West Monroe has already begun. We’re ready to receive you today at 2:30 pm. Let us know if you have any last-minute preferences. We’ll try our best to accommodate those during your stay.”
While this appeases the guests beyond a speck of doubt, it, at the same time, boosts the hotel’s operational efficiency by streamlining housekeeping operations and ensuring smooth coordination between various departments. In the meantime, it also reduces the strenuous effort of sending out pre-arrival messages manually to each of the arriving guests as you now have the option to schedule them ahead of time.
How The Integration Of Multiple Channels Into A Single Platform Can Enhance Hotel Guest Experience?
The integration of multiple channels like WebChat, website, Google search, etc. through the platform of guest messaging not only helps the guests but also provides a wide range of benefits for the hotels:
- Increased guest engagement
- Reduction in drop-out rates
- Improves guest satisfaction with guest messaging
- Helps in the removal of bottlenecks and increases operational efficiency
Redefining The Guest Experience In Hotels Through Real-Time Guest Messaging
Usage of contactless communication enables hotels to remain compliant with the strict health guidelines in place while simultaneously providing guests with a satisfactory experience. This can be easily achieved through the implementation of guest messaging to enhance hotel guest experience in the current year and beyond.
The various touchpoints of the guest journey stages provide you with the opportunity to honour your guests with the best possible experience. You can always keep track of your guests’ impression by collecting mid-stay feedback and reviews. An example of mid-stay feedback can be as follows:
“Good morning, Roy! Hope you are enjoying your stay with us. If there’s a special request on your part, feel free to text us. We’ll get back to you soon! Thanks!“
The integration of AI and Automation with guest messaging can help create a database of the guests and store additional information about them which can most certainly enhance hotel guest experience. This enables you to serve your guests better by anticipating their needs and demands. This most certainly is going to gain you some extra brownie points and create a positive impression. The aim should be to provide personalized services during and after their stay by presenting offers that could be potentially intriguing. Some of the examples are as follows:
a. Birthday – “Hello Cherry, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Avail of our exotic continental menu at a remarkably discounted price by using the coupon code – CHB001 on your special occasion. We look forward to seeing you soon!
b. Discount – “Hi Joy, We miss you! You can enjoy your next stay with us at slashed prices. To check out some of the season’s best deals, click on ‘the URL’ below.”
Smart Strategies For Post-Stay Surveys
Today guests have countless ways to share their feedback online, from social media to posting reviews at review sites. There is yet another method for collecting guest feedback that shouldn’t be overlooked by hoteliers which is the guest feedback survey.
Post-stay surveys are crucial in terms of gathering information about your guests and the property. Such surveys can provide a detailed insight in comparison with online reviews. It encourages direct resolution of any conflict between the hotel and the guest. Much like pre-arrival email for hotel guests, post surveys can also be sent using guest messaging or email since it’s convenient and direct and is bound to enhance hotel guest experience.
Removing Language Barriers For Seamless Comprehension And Communication
The era of globalization has led to the world becoming increasingly multicultural. However, it could be difficult to deal with communication and language barriers. To enhance guest satisfaction levels and remove language barriers and cultural faux-pas, properties can employ tools such as guest messaging for seamless communication. Spanish, Swahili. French or Mandarin, every language could be used for communicating via the messaging app which helps comprehend your guests’ needs better, without incurring any lapses in service.
How To Make Hotel Employees More Responsive And Engaging To Enhance Hotel Guest Experience
When organizations work with a group of employees who are engaged and responsive to their guests, it helps to create a productive and sustainable business. Making your employees more responsive can be regarded as the most important step in providing a memorable guest experience. Being responsive to the guests’ queries, complaints, or problems and being able to quickly detect and solve them is what primarily comprises this particular fact.
Guest messaging can help you tackle this problem along with the plethora of benefits that it provides. Collecting online reviews or going through the number of times your organization is mentioned in the virtual domain such as Facebook or TripAdvisor is now easier. In addition, having a service whereby the guests can be served instantly and easily followed by the implementation of messaging and connecting with guests through hotel texts is much needed. Maintaining a regular line of communication can surely make your guests happy and feel comfortable.
Employees are the most important tool of the hospitality industry as they can either provide a stellar guest experience or ruin it. Therefore, training them to adopt the right use of such novel and best-in-class technology becomes more than significant. A lot can be done by employees through guest messaging, right from communicating seamlessly in different languages with guests of various nationalities to streamlining and strengthening the SOPs to upsell.
Implementing Automated Messages And Saved Templates To Enhance Hotel Guest Experience
Given that online hotel reviews play a significant role in your hotel’s success, it is only natural to constantly remain at the top of the game and provide the best possible guest experience. Hence, guest queries and reviews should be quickly responded to in order to create a positive and long-lasting impression. Often guest expectations related to high-quality service from hotels also equate to fast and quick responses to reviews. Employing automated guest messaging services can be the best possible solution for this situation.
By integrating tools to implement streamlined processes, hotels can better serve guests throughout their entire stay regardless of whether they are in their room, or even in the hotel at all. Automated messaging has the potential to handle tasks such as responding to guest queries and issues, thereby promising businesses to save costs, increase efficiency and improve productivity. While many hoteliers still prefer tried and trusted mediums of communication such as email and phones, auto-reply can be a simple solution to this issue. If employees are tied up when an inquiry comes in, the guest receives an instant reply with an estimated response time. The guest can relax and focus on other activities while the request goes into a queue to be handled by the first available employee.
Employees working at busy hotels/motels might be faced with countless inquiries from guests and prospective clients almost every day. However, the majority of the queries and doubts often revolve around a handful of questions. Some of these commonplace queries include:
- Does your hotel provide a shuttle service?
- Is continental breakfast available?
- Does your hotel provide a welcome drink on arrival?
Answering questions of similar nature through telephone or manually sending a text can be a time-consuming and costly affair. The implementation of the automated guest messaging system, auto-replies, or chatbots can be a cost-effective way to deal with this particular problem. Moreover, saved templates can provide the person responding to such queries select the best possible answer to any problem from the digital directory of responses pre-written to enhance hotel guest experience. This, in turn, ensures accuracy, quick response time, and compliance with the standard of the brand. Furthermore, it can also be used for internal communications.
Outlook Of The Hospitality Industry In 2022 & Beyond
Customers or guests always seek the most optimized, proficient, friendly, and the most perfect service as per their expectations when it comes to hotels. They also look at the development of new technology which creates a rise in their expectations. The industry always aims to improve hotel guest satisfaction by serving their customers to the best of their abilities and making their stay a memorable occasion. Therefore, to enhance hotel guest experience, it is important for you to stay up-to-date with customer expectations.
Automated messaging solutions are here to stay. Hotels have increasingly begun to invest in technologies such as automation, hotel AI and robotics. In addition, the idea is to bring agility to the lean hotel staff and streamline operations in order to increase efficiency, especially in the context of the smaller properties. Due to the limited resources at the helm of smaller properties, implementing automated messaging services can boost efficiency and provide a memorable experience to the guests.
However, the balance between both worlds should be maintained as even the most technology-savvy guests seek personalized services and human warmth that cannot be replaced by software. Nothing lights up your day like a warm, amicable smile from someone at the front desk, not even the most efficient robot butler that is programmed to take care of your needs. Therefore, assimilation of both technology and the human touch in customer service is needed for a personalized experience. It’s all about humanizing the technology in a way!
Ride The Train Or You Shall Be Left Behind. With GuestTouch, Boost Efficiency At Every Stage Of The Guest Journey Through A Highly Personalized And Well-Streamlined Guest Messaging Service
- Integrate with multiple inlets
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- Take care of mid-stay service lapses and queries
- Upsell with digital concierge and digital marketplace
- Send well-designed, personalized surveys
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