How hotels are using SMS to connect to their customers
If, like me, you enjoy traveling then you’ve stayed in your fair share of hotels. These stays have resulted in you getting the typical confirmation email, the reminder email (and call, don’t forget the call), the room call to make sure everything’s ok with your room, the thank you email after check-out, the…I think you get the idea.
Now, I want you to be honest with yourself — other than emails that require an interaction (ie: Click here to confirm your reservation), how often do you actually read those emails or listen to the voicemails? Probably almost never, right? I mean, why would you? Most of us get so much spam email that it’s easy to ignore it.
But you know what we don’t avoid? Text messages. Not only do we not ignore them, we can’t wait to read them. More than 90% of text messages are read within 2 minutes. That means they’re a great channel for timely, personal communications.
Which brings us back to hotels and those pesky emails that we like to avoid (or stick into a folder that we never really pay attention to). Instead of inundating you with emails that you don’t really want (and that are easy to ignore), or worse, forcing you to download an app so you have one more notification you have to turn off, ignore, or swipe away, hotels are moving towards that thing we all love and never ignore — text messages.
A superior experience
Through the implementation of SMS, hotels can provide a better, more personal experience for their guests while also reducing stress on their staff. How do they do it?
Getting rid of the email doesn’t mean hotels don’t want to confirm your reservation. Empty rooms mean lost revenue. However, using text messaging, the hotel can not only confirm a reservation, but they can ask more pertinent questions like the arrival time of guests or if they need directions to the hotel.
Since this text is coming from the hotel and not an automated service, the message can provide information that’s of maximum usefulness to the guest, giving them a better overall experience during their stay.
Want room service? Need some towels or an extra blanket? Forgot the Wifi network name and password? By providing guests with a text-enabled number, they can get quick responses to their needs without the anxiety of having to answer questions over the phone; the desire to avoid talking to someone can lead guests to avoid letting hotel staff alleviate any issues that could result in a less than 5-star experience for guests.
Where should I go?
Automated systems run from afar can absolutely confirm reservations. They cannot, however, tell guests about that small spot around the corner that nobody is talking about that makes the most amazing sushi you’ve ever had. For that, you need a person. Recommendations for places to shop, dine and drink, and the best sites to go see (along with directions on how to get there) are perfect for a text to guests — they can take the recommendations or directions with them, and can even request recommendations in places where calling may be tricky (like a loud street).
Again, the personal touch is what allows hotels to provide their guests with the best experience possible, and that includes when it’s time to leave. Sending a text to remind them of check-out times, find out if they need a car service, to find out if they need to extend their stay, or even to let them know of flight delays (assuming you have that information) all provide the small, unobtrusive touch that turns that 4 star review into a 5 star one (and keeps guests coming back).
Just because a guest has left doesn’t mean you can’t still help them. While most of the examples we’ve talked about here have been about personal communications, having automated surveys delivered to their texting inbox after check-out is a great way to find out how the guest felt about their stay. Given the higher open rate (and how much sooner it happens), it’s a more effective way to to get immediate feedback than surveys sent through email, and allows you to reach out if there were any problems that arose during their stay.
Don’t miss out
It’s easy to keep doing things the way that you’ve always done them; you can keep sending the same emails or encouraging your guests to download that app that we all know they really don’t want to download (and will delete as soon as they’ve checked out), or you can move forward and embrace text messaging. Companies like Hilton, Starwood Hotels (which includes the Ritz-Carlton among others), and Minon Hospitality have all embraced the way that SMS messaging connects them to their guests.
So, what are you waiting for?