Communicate with Guests via Their Preferred Medium: Chat

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Communicate with Guests via Their Preferred Medium: Chat

07/26/2018

More than most other industries, the hospitality sector is human-centered. Providing people with a place to stay, food and drink, entertainment and transportation is highly personal. Perhaps no other sector depends as much on delivering a great customer experience to thrive and grow. That’s why it’s critical for hospitality professionals to communicate with guests in the way the customer prefers.

Today, that means communicating via messaging — SMS text, messaging apps or chat. Just as the hospitality industry engages customers at the most personal level, mobile phones are the most personal of devices. People carry their phones everywhere they go. They use them to stay in touch with family and friends. Messaging is up close and personal in a way that channels such as email just can’t match. This article from Quiq discusses why hoteliers should consider communicating with guests via messaging.

Although messaging is often associated with millennials, the fact is, people of all ages rely on texts and chat to communicate, and customers prefer to get an answer to their questions via messaging or web chat instead of standing in line to talk to a customer service rep in person or waiting on hold for a voice call. Messaging mirrors the way people communicate in a non-business context.

In the hospitality sector, customers are called “guests,” which reflects the personal touch the business offers. As a hospitality professional, you invite guests to experience a hotel’s special comforts or enjoy a restaurant’s unique ambiance. You attract guests by emphasizing the attention and service you provide. So shouldn’t your guests’ preferred communication channel also make the list of amenities?

Research shows that consumers want messaging options for customer support activities. A Harris poll found that 64 percent of people with texting capabilities would rather engage customer service via text than voice. The same poll found that 77 percent of millennials react positively to brands that offer customer support via messaging channels. It makes sense to give guests what they want.

It’s simple — give guests what they want, and they’ll be more likely to choose your brand over a competitor’s. Messaging makes traveling easier and communication more personal, which provides a better guest experience. Here are several ways you can incorporate messaging into guest outreach:

Give customers a messaging option for support: 85 percent already use mobile channels to book travel arrangements and activities. Consumers use smartphones for searches and purchases, so why not give them a way to ask questions about check-in and book reservations on the same device?

Create excitement around an upcoming event: Hospitality businesses that reach out to customers with a welcome message or timely information on what to do or see at a travel destination can build on the sense of anticipation the customer already feels — and make the experience more special.

Use messaging to upsell: Messaging is a terrific way to upsell guests on special amenities, offer discounts or provide guest-specific deals. Outbound messages can also be used to thank guests for their business when they leave and offer a receipt to business travelers. 

Generate feedback: Outbound messaging is a great way to encourage guests to leave feedback on review sites and social media. Guests can make excellent brand ambassadors, and reviews influence prospective customers since 95 percent of travelers read reviews before booking.

Hospitality businesses that provide messaging options for guests can even cut customer service costs while improving customer satisfaction. Customer support agents can handle multiple messaging conversations at the same time, and the conversation doesn’t require guests to drop everything they’re doing, so they can respond when it’s convenient, which improves their overall experience.

Messaging has grown steadily as the communication channel of choice for decades, but brands can still stand out in a crowded marketplace by offering a messaging option for guest support. In the hospitality sector, getting up close and personal is the key to delivering a great customer experience every time. A messaging option lets brands reach out to guests — and puts the brand within reach.