Messaging: New Opportunities in Hospitality

It’s almost as if kids today are born with a smartphone in their hands. If you’ve ever had the chance to witness a toddler navigate the device with such calmness and ease, you’ll think it both scary and impressive.

Advancing in the age spectrum, Millennials and Generation X are Googling, Snapchatting, Facebooking, WhatsApping, Pinteresting, Instagramming, Tindering, etc. (I apologize if I have lost some of you).

At the other end of the spectrum, boomers are ironically adopting many of the behaviours, albeit unconsciously, of younger generations. They browse on-the-go and text their friends and family almost as much as their younger counterparts.

Technology has dramatically changed the way we live and communicate, forever.

Don’t fear it. Embrace it.

Capitalizing on new Messaging opportunities

Technology and shifts in demographics are behind some of the driving forces that have recently emerged in hospitality. When there is disruption, there is opportunity.

We’ve laid out some of the most important opportunities related to Messaging:

  1. Authenticity trumps allThe need to differentiate in hospitality has never been more important. Travelers are now looking for an authentic and local experience. Hoteliers need to embrace the simple art of being authentic.

    To achieve this, simply have a conversation with your guests. Connect with them, ask questions, listen and provide value in any way you can. Most importantly, do so in your brand’s true colours.

     

  2. Personalize to winEach guest is unique, therefore each guest should be engaged in a unique manner.

    “Hi Mrs.” and “Hey” both have their places; there is no one size fits all approach so it’s important to define which voice and tone will resonate best with each of your guests. A lot of brands leading the way in this regard will suggest to go formal-first, informal-permitted.

    We recommend that you engage with each guest early, in the channel they are most comfortable with, learn about them and their travel plans, and then deliver personalized recommendations and on-demand service throughout the entire travel experience.

     

  3. Deliver value nowThe rise of the On-Demand Economy has inflated consumer expectations across all industries.

    Uber, OpenTable, AirBnB, HotelTonight, Car2Go, JustEat, etc. – these are only a sampling of companies that have brought the idea of on-demand service to life. The ability for consumers to access services at the tip of their fingertips and the rise of mobile spending have completed shifted the way guests will engage and spend to personalize their experience. It’s time for hotels to play catch up.

    Hotels that are able to capture and deliver on guests needs and wants as soon as they arise will delight their guests, create repeated in-stay engagement and consequently, brand advocates.

     

  4. Practice Proactive HospitalityOnline reviews are uncontestably one of the most important focuses of any hotelier nowadays, and for good reasons.

    Traditional reputation management of simply responding to online reviews is good, but not great.

    According to a study by Market Metrix, guests are more inclined to post extreme experiences on social media and even more so if they had a problem during their stay; specifically 22% of guests will post if they had a problem versus 9% who haven’t experienced a problem. This in turn greatly distorts the perception of your brand to prospective travelers and as the saying goes, perception is reality.

    Market Metrix also puts it nicely: “By the time a negative review is posted you’re doing damage control, not reputation management.“. In other words, this is highly reactive and after-the-fact.

    Instead, hoteliers should aim to practice proactive hospitality by nurturing an open conversation with a guest throughout the entire travel experience so that they can capture and capitalize on real-time guest sentiment.

    Messaging is central to these efforts.

     

  5. Engage and upsell all day, everydayTraditional hospitality allows a hotelier to interact with the guest directly as such: occasional phone calls, minimal face-to-face interactions at check-in, in-stay and at check-out. The value a hotel can directly provide guests through direct engagement is severely limited to this discrete set of touchpoints.

    New hospitality demands for continuous, end-to-end guest engagement. Messaging is key in providing your hotel the ability to engage and even upsell guests across the entire travel lifecycle, continuously.

    Mobile messaging fully complements face-to-face interactions and ensures that no guest leaves the property unengaged. This may be true for guests who are not comfortable speaking in the local language, for businesspeople who just don’t have the time to go down to the front desk or simply for guests with slightly embarrassing requests.

    However trivial the reason, some guests just do not want to have face-to-face interactions.

    Hotels should not underestimate this new reality and should instead embrace the use of mobile messaging to engage all guests during their stay.

     

  6. Embrace Conversational CommerceConversational messaging is making big impacts in commerce right now.

    Chris Messina Lead Experience Developer at Uber dubbed the term Conversational Commerce and would describe it as such:

    [Conversational commerce] pertains to utilizing chat, messaging, or other natural language interfaces (i.e. voice) to interact with people, brands, or services and bots that heretofore have had no real place in the bidirectional, asynchronous messaging context. The net result is that you and I will be talking to brands and companies over Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, Slack, and elsewhere before year’s end, and will find it normal.”.
    What does it mean for hoteliers?

    Conversational commerce offers new opportunities for hoteliers.

    A sound omni-channel messaging platform enables hoteliers to proactively engage with guests having specific communication preferences and even upsell them with in-conversation offers.

    Ideally, in one integrated experience, hoteliers can ask questions and capture guests needs and wants through messaging, access guest insight and seamlessly offer concierge-like recommendations and curated offers. This is real-time merchandising at work.

    In one regard, this is a great way for hotels to provide the local experiences travelers are increasingly seeking. Equally and if not more important, hotels can expect much greater spending from fully engaged guests, a whooping 46% more than their disengaged counterparts.

    Conversational commerce is here to stay.

     

 

How to capitalize on these opportunities

As a hotelier, here are our suggestions on how to establish a messaging strategy and implement the tools needed to support it:

 

    1. Fully embrace the urgency and necessity of messaging as part of both your overall engagement and upselling strategies

 

    1. Establish a team that will champion brand standards related to guest engagement

 

    1. Map out your vision of the perfect guest journey

 

    1. Make an inventory of all current solutions used for guest engagement and upselling, and identify the infrastructure’s weaknesses in delivering the perfect guest journey

 

  1. Ensure that your solution stack integrates the following key functions across the end-to-end guest journey:
    • Omni-channel guest messaging: Guests must be able to engage with your brand via e-mail, SMS / text messaging, branded mobile app, Facebook Messenger, etc. The desired solution must be able to route the incoming guest message to the appropriate hotel-facing channel.
    • Hotel-facing messaging tool: A strong messaging platform will enable minimal disruption to doing business as-is; this means consolidating all guests messages in one holistic view or even routing incoming messages to your hotel’s inbox.
    • CRM: Rich guest insight for personalized messaging and upselling
    • Request Management: For fulfilling guests requests captured in-conversation
    • Merchandise Store / CMS: On-property services and amenities, offers, off-property experiences (restaurants, tours, attractions, etc.)

 

This step-by-step approach should help your brand establish a strong and future-proof messaging strategy that will go a long way in providing your guests with an authentic and memorable guest experience.

 

Need advice or help defining an engagement and upselling strategy?

Contact us and our team will be more than happy to help you.