Hotel managers and hospitality workers know there’s more to running a successful business than simply providing comfortable beds, flat-screen TVs and hot coffee in the morning. Today’s travelers are savvier than ever, and they know that hotels are competing for their business.
We’re an internet-connected society moving toward a “mobile-first” world. Not only can we share information at lightning speed, we can share rides in our cars (Uber and Lyft) and rooms in our homes (Airbnb) to make extra money.
It used to be that hotels primarily had to compete with other chains, boutique hotels and the occasional B&B, but now they’re dealing with a much larger and diverse marketplace.
Why business texting for hotels?
Hotels are discovering that a high-value, low-cost cost option is to use text messaging to be responsive to the needs of guests and share important information before they arrive.
Offering texting as a fast and convenient method for guests to connect with your hotel is one way to stand out from the crowd and be viewed favorably, especially among younger generations like Gen Y (millennials) and Gen Z who use their smartphones to text far more often than to check their email or make calls.
In addition to consumers expecting convenience, they’ve also become accustomed to on-demand service. They’ve been trained to expect text messages to be read and replied to promptly regardless of whether they’re sent to friends, family or a business.
Nobody likes to wait, especially travelers
It seems our tolerance for being patient is shrinking. Just look at online retailer Amazon. They found that free two-day shipping (for Prime members) was good but free one-day shipping was even better. People are expecting immediate gratification in more and more areas of their life. For hotel guests, that means getting responses to their questions faster and having hotels anticipate their needs even before they do.
Luckily for hoteliers, texting software makes it easy for employees from the reception desk to the seasoned concierge to respond to messages without feeling overwhelmed. They can send and receive texts using a convenient desktop interface that organizes messages under each guest’s contact information, keeping their conversation history separate from other messages.
To stand out from competitors and retain customers, hotels need to find ways to provide services that travelers want while keeping a watchful eye on the bottom line.
When it comes to privacy, using texting software as opposed to an employee’s personal cell phone is more secure, and it makes staying on top of incoming messages and replying to them much more efficient. It’s important to remember that before a business can send texts to customers, they need to get permission. For information on how to ensure customers have opted-in to receiving texts from your business, download our free e-book on TCPA compliance.
With so many choices of where to go, hotels are finding that staying in communication with guests before, during and after their stay pays off. The benefits include loyalty to their brand and an increasing number of positive reviews that can help them attract first-time guests—two things hotels rely on to stay competitive in the world of business and vacation travel.
Texting keeps hotel guests engaged throughout their stay
Texting is faster than sending an email or making a call. Our State of Texting report shows that consumers prefer texting with businesses, especially when scheduling services such as visiting a hotel’s spa or hair salon or dining in their restaurant.
In the past, hotels relied on those other methods to get their message across. Now they can send texts and have greater confidence their message will be seen. And texts are more likely to be read shortly after being sent, unlike other forms of communication, because of the short message length and easy access to the native texting app on smartphones.
Veteran hotel workers know that many guests will be asking the same questions when they arrive. Proactively providing those answers via text will make the first impression of your hotel a good one. For example, letting guests know where to park (and if parking is free), what time they can check in and if there’s a coffee shop or quiet place to relax if they arrive early, will score you high marks.
Two-way messaging offers hotel guests a more personal touch
By adopting SMS texting, hotels can offer a more personal experience for visitors. While guests will always appreciate price discounts and complimentary room upgrades for select members, making each person feel important, valued and listened to goes a long way in improving the chances they’ll return to your hotel or simply extend their stay.
Two-way texting software is highly intuitive. Hotel workers can manage multiple text conversations with guests or with other employees from their laptop or desktop computer or smartphone if they’re on the move. If your company is relying on automated text responses, you’re missing a golden opportunity to engage with customers and create a more personal connection to your brand.
Unlike chatbots that can feel, well, robotic, and one-way text messages that only allow guests to reply to an incoming text with a specific command such as Reply “C” to confirm, two-way messaging lets hotels communicate with guests the way they prefer, like a human.
Six ways hotels can use text messages to extend their hospitality to guests
1. Confirm reservations
When a guest books a room at your hotel, a quick text message to confirm their reservation will give them the confidence that everything is in order. You can also send a message the day before they’re expected, asking when they plan to arrive so you can be ready to offer complimentary services or upsell opportunities at just the right time.
After a crowded flight or a long drive, a visit to your spa or fitness center could relieve stress and sound inviting. Or, maybe a discount code to your gift shop could be the incentive they need to stop by and pick up a few items. Providing easy directions to its location and the hours of operation could also improve their chances of visiting.
2. Check-in reminder
Every hotel is different, so it’s a good practice to remind guests when your check-in time begins. Having a lobby full of guests sitting on their suitcases looking unhappy is not the image you want other people to see. Reminding guests of the check-in time before they arrive will give them a chance to make other plans if their flight has them arriving early.
You can also use the check-in reminder text to offer suggestions, such as relaxing in your hotel’s lounge or a nearby coffee shop. If you can offer to store their luggage in a secure location while they’re away, all the better. And since you’re sending a message from your hotel and not using an automated message service, your staff can provide a personal response that would be most useful to each guest, making them feel appreciated and happier about their stay.
3. Housekeeping requests
Rather than asking guests to call the front desk or walk to the lobby to get assistance, let them know they can simply send a text to request housekeeping items such as extra towels, pillows or blankets. Maybe they need to ask about the hotel’s Wi-Fi network name and password while they’re at the pool? By providing guests with your text-enabled phone number, they can get quick responses to their questions without having to deal with the anxiety of talking on the phone (it’s a real thing) or stop what they’re doing to go and get the assistance they need.
4. Sights to see and places to go
Guests are paying for accommodations in your hotel, but if you can go above and beyond their expectations your chance of winning them over and having them come back go way up. One way to raise the bar on your hotel’s service is to text guests and let them know about interesting events happening nearby. Are there any popular eateries, cultural exhibits or sporting events you could recommend and perhaps offer discounted tickets? This type of value-added service can be a real differentiator between you and neighboring hotels. The key is to use text messages sparingly, and at the right times, to not overwhelm your guests.
5. Check-out reminder
Nobody wants to be rushed out the door in the morning due to a forgotten or unexpected check-out time. By sending guests a friendly text the evening before they plan to leave, you’re providing a gentle reminder about your room policy. It’s also a good opportunity to let them know that a late check-out option may be available or find out if perhaps they would like to extend their stay. This individualized touch, along with the other 5-star services you provide, can mean the difference between receiving a good review and a great one.
6. Following up
After a guest has completed their stay, you can still engage with them to receive valuable customer insights. Firstly, thank them for visiting your hotel. Then, ask if they would be willing to provide feedback about their experience. Customers waiting at the airport can easily fill out a survey using a link contained in your text. If the customer was highly satisfied, you can let them know that you would appreciate if they would leave a review by providing them with a link to your hotel’s Yelp or Google My Business review site.
Learn more about the benefits of texting for the hotel industry
For hotels, emails and phone calls will always have their place, such as when lengthier messages are needed or if an urgent matter arises. But texting is quickly becoming the preferred way for customers to communicate with businesses in the hospitality industry.
For details on how business texting software works and how hotels can use it to improve their workflow and increase customer satisfaction, download our free e-book on The Ultimate Guide to Texting Your Customers. It’s filled with lots of valuable information ranging from texting best practices, texting etiquette, marketing tips for using text messaging, text templates and more.