SMS messaging could help improve a hotel’s reputation
 
SMS messaging could help improve a hotel’s reputation
08 APRIL 2016 7:55 AM

Hoteliers might want to consider messaging services to bridge the communication gap on property and improve the guest experience.

Last month I attended the Revenue Management Conference West in Vancouver, British Columbia. I have to admit that I was quick to jump on this event because of my love for America’s Hat, but I was also intrigued by the lineup. Not to mention that Vancouver looks like something from a postcard.

But I’ll reserve my love for the city for a later time. Like at the end of this blog.

What was different about this conference was the intimacy. It was the first time that host Anticipate Hospitality had put together this event, so attendance was low, but that worked in the audience’s favor.

Why, you ask? Well, let’s just say there was much more interaction and, dare I say, candidness with a group of roughly 75 attendees. The openness led to great sound bites for me to take back to the Hotel News Now office. Here’s one of those tidbits that I heard from one of the vendors’ presentations:

“There are more users around messaging platforms than social media.”

*Insert scratches head emoji*

I’m not saying this is an incorrect statement, but I was a little surprised. Perhaps it’s a result of my very United States-centric lifestyle. But then I mulled it over, and it began to make sense.

For example, when I was visiting Vancouver, I spent the majority of my time on the hotel’s Wi-Fi within my Facebook Messenger app because it was free to use (and I didn’t want to make another rookie mistake with my phone bill). I have to imagine that I’m not the only one who does this.

One thing discussed during the session: The ability to send push notifications exists on messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Raise your hand if you get annoyed by push notifications. I’m raising my hand over here. Raise your hand if when you download an app on your phone you click “Don’t Allow” when the push notifications box pops up. Waving my hands from side to side now.

But as hoteliers, you don’t have to use automated messaging to market to your guests. You can use messaging in a more personalized way.

For example, SMS (short message service, also known as text messaging) can be a useful customer service tool and can help bridge the gap between the front desk and the guests’ needs. This can be particularly useful when it comes to managing a hotel’s reputation.

For instance, say your guest arrives at the hotel and is rather road weary. We’ve all been there. Missed connections, long taxi lines, cramped airplane seats. Chances are that guest is going to be in a hurry to get to his or her room and plop on the bed. I’ll use myself as an example (as I often like to do in these blogs) as to why text messaging with guests can improve your TripAdvisor scores and overall reputation.

When I arrived in Vancouver and got to my hotel that will remain unnamed, I was for once feeling refreshed. Typically, I am that road-weary traveler, but the weather was so beautiful that day and I was in a new city taking it all in. Not to mention the 30-minute drive from the airport helped cool my jets.

My interaction with the front desk was a standard, run-of-the-mill exchange, and then I got up to my room and felt like I wanted to go do something. But I had no idea what to do. This is something that most business travelers fall into often. We are always tied down with meetings and conferences that often we forget to have a little fun. Even if it means a walk down the block to a local café. And that’s exactly what I was looking to do, except I didn’t know where to go. So I ended up walking aimlessly down to the harbor to take some pictures that would make my husband jealous (see below).

I wanted to take the FlyOver Canada tour of the harbor, but this photo is just as breathtaking. (Photo: Samantha Worgull)

Here’s the situation I would have liked to see. I get up to my room, settle in, perhaps change clothes. And then I would receive a text message from a concierge or special staff member who handles messaging. It would say something along the lines of:

“Hi Samantha, we hope your room is up to your standards. If you need anything, feel free to text this number during your stay.”

At which point I would reply, “Actually, I was wondering if you could point me in the direction of a nice, local café nearby.”

I would hope they wouldn’t point me in Starbucks direction, but hey, better than nothing. I like Starbucks, don’t get me wrong, but I go local when I can. Anyway, the point I’m getting at is hoteliers have an opportunity with messaging to ease the traveler’s mind, even with just one communication. This in turn will better the guest’s view of a hotel and can even translate to better reviews online.

I’m not asking that hoteliers become my own personal travel agent and curate me the experience of a lifetime, but I absolutely think it would improve a guest’s overall thoughts on how helpful and hospitable the hotelier can be. Of course you run the risk of annoying some guests, but the messaging services that hoteliers and other service providers use are on an opt-in basis.

How would you feel about a hotel team member messaging you while on property? Let me know in the comments below.

Email Samantha Worgull or find her on Twitter.

The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Bloggers published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.

2 Comments

  • John Saldat, Guestfolio April 8, 2016 11:03 AM Reply

    Nice read Samantha! Having attended the same conference in Vancouver I agree wholeheartedly from both a business and a personal experience perspective. Today's traveler is so used to having SMS throughout the day it is certainly a win to offer it as a feature at your destination.

  • Howard Hind April 10, 2016 5:00 PM Reply

    Thank you Samantha. I appreciate that this would be truly appreciated by some guests and seen as a true value added benefit. However, we must remember not all guests can afford international roaming to allow them to make use of the sms service so hoteliers would need to think out of the box. International roaming is expensive for guests from a country like South Africa so platforms such as WhatsApp are the primary platform for communicating with travellers and even that has its issues.

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