Text messaging is the default communication method for most people, above and beyond a phone call, simply because it is a quicker and more convenient way of reaching people. Recently, a New York Times article pointed out that more and more hotels are using text messaging to connect their guests to the front desk. Here is a list of five reasons why using text messaging as part of your hotel concierge service is a good idea.
Reason #1: Automated messages save staff and guests valuable time
Nobody wants to wait two minutes and press five keys in order to find out how late the pool is open. Instead of making people wait on the phone to listen to the entire length of the typical recorded phone message in order to find out one piece of information, use an automated text message service to send them answers immediately. Guests can simply text in a specific question and receive an automated answer. This capability can be used for restaurant hours, check out times, facility locations, anything that requires a “stock” answer from staff. This, in turn, saves both guests and staff valuable time while not cutting any corners in the quality of service.
Reason #2: SMS resolves customer complaints and issues faster than other channels
One of the main advantages of using text messaging in the hotel industry is that guests can send a text message from wherever they are, not just their hotel room. This capability allows hotels to expand their services to meet the demands of the guests both inside and outside of their room. For instance, guests can contact valet services at the same time that they are summoning their dinner check; request towels, food, or other amenities poolside; or even contact hotel staff while they’re outside of hotel property in anticipation of some other need. This ability to reach hotel staff from any location offers a huge leg up on the traditional hotel room phone call.
Speedy responses can also help hotels stay in good standing. As described by the NYT article, “for picky travelers, little things like a broken light or a leaky faucet can shave a star or two off an online review. But if guests can air grievances more easily and hotels respond quickly, the thinking goes, it could lead to more positive reviews.”
Reason #3: SMS saves a record of every customer interaction
One of the main advantages of a text message conversation is that it allows patrons to skip the small talk and get straight to the point. No longer will a guest have to have a harried conversation about when they asked for an ice bucket to be sent up. For example, Marriott has a chat function in its app that lets the hotel keep a record of all requests for future reference, “without guests having to explain it twice,” said John Wolf, Vice President for Consumer Public Relations at Marriott. By anticipating a guest’s needs, the program can create loyalty between clientele and encourage them to keep coming back.
Hotels can also collect and analyze data collected via SMS in order to anticipate common needs or areas for improvement. Sending a text message survey as guests are leaving the hotel is a great way to capture information right away so that the experience is fresh on their minds and doesn’t require them to fill out paperwork or go online.
Reason #4: SMS fosters a better client relationship than phone calls
Traditionally when a guest makes a phone call to the front desk, they state their request or concern, hang up, and have no further communication with the hotel staff. Text messaging offers a better alternative to this system by being less of a one-time communication channel and more of an ongoing service. For example, a hotel can send a follow-up text message to a guest who requested an extra towel and see if they have any additional needs. This conversation is viewed in the same thread on the guest’s phone as the previous request, giving her a more continuous experience throughout her stay. Guests are more likely to keep texting the hotel if they engage with the staff, thereby leading to a better relationship over time.
Chris Smith, the co-founder of a Kipsu, a start-up that integrates text messaging into hotel concierge services, says his experience with text messaging corroborates this aspect of the service. “Typically, the conversations are usually transactional in nature,” said Smith. “What happens over time that’s really interesting is that a relationship grows.”
Reason #5: SMS is becoming the norm and not the exception
As more and more hotels start to use text messaging, SMS is quickly becoming the norm and not the exception. This, in turn, leads to a familiarity with the practice that suggests that guests may actually begin to expect an SMS concierge service to replace the more traditional phone systems. Indeed, as the NY Times points out, “more hotels of all types are beginning to accommodate guests unwilling or unable to fumble with a room phone to call a concierge.”
For example, take Mr. Linn from the article, a “well-traveled businessman” who realized he had forgotten his socks when unpacking in his hotel. Instead of panicking, Mr. Linn sent a simple text that had socks delivered to his room in a matter of minutes. “What used to be just a personal communication method has become business mainstream,” Mr. Linn said.
Text messaging in the hospitality industry is still relatively new; however, the fact that it’s making such a big impact in such a relatively short amount of time testifies to its strength. If you’d like to learn more about how to use text messaging in your industry, please don’t hesitate to contact us.