A GOAL TO INCREASING DIRECT BOOKINGS AND GUEST SATISFACTION THROUGH MESSAGING
WHY TEXT MESSAGING FOR RESERVATIONS?
SMS messaging is becoming a normal way of communication in our busy lifestyles. Keeping conversations straight and to the point is a major advantage of text messaging. Why can’t the reservation process for hospitality be exactly this, “short and to the point” and still covering all aspects. Over the years, the online booking process by all means has made the reservation process very simple, but its still a process and its missing the most important aspect, guest interaction. Reservation text messages allows for guest interaction while maintaining booking simplicity.
Now you as the manager of your property you ask yourself, “Is this just one more item to ‘Check the box’ for providing to our guests?”. Absolutely not, lets think about it.
If text messaging is becoming more of the channel to communicate from person to person, this is beyond 'Check the box'. Lets back this up with statistics. According to a Harris Poll:
“77% of consumers with texting capabilities aged 18-34 are likely to have a positive perception of a company that offers text capability.”
Still not convinced. Lets take a look at another one. According to Pew Research:
“Texting is the most widely-used and frequently used app on a smartphone, with 97% of Americans using it at least once a day.”
Convinced, we hope so. If yes, so now what.
Start texting, and get used to it. How much time and energy do you spend training your staff to speak on the phone properly and ask all the right questions while taking a reservation? These reservation aspects equally apply in importance but it is much easier because your just sending a rehearsed text message. Building out best practices for your property is just as important for texting, as it is for answering the phone.
MULTITASKING WITH MESSAGING
So now you have a basic idea of how your texting process will work. Next you will need to embrace text messaging… and work to have your team embrace it. Here’s why. texting is a passive-active event. What do we mean? Well lets say a text message comes into your property (active) and your front desk gets notified, they have sometime to think about how to respond (passive). This process allows your agents to multitask, whether it is helping another guest or messaging a different guest. Think of it as building more efficiencies across your staff. Just imagine all the questions you reservation agents have to answer while on the phone.
Most of the answers are probably already listed on your website (you can send website links in text messages) or just questions about the area, property, distances from your property and the list goes on. All of these take up time from your reservation agents to get to ultimately book a reservation.
By all means phone reservations are still important, this is why the smartphone was designed to have the simple button to call the number we are texting. If there is any confusion during the reservation messaging process, both the guest or agent can call one another and clarify the conversation items.
THE RESERVATION IS JUST THE BEGINNING
The text messaging reservation process is only the beginning. Now that you have the guest at your staff’s finger tips. Let’s get them to think about guest satisfaction or up-selling. Sure its one thing to book a reservation through text message but imagine what your guest would think about your property if you get their room prepared exactly how they would like it. Now is a great opportunity to up-sell or add-on additional services you offer.
Hmm, what we can do here? Its the day of the arrival and you automatically text the guest: “We look forward to your stay at “Your Hotel Here”, please text us and let us know if there is anything we can do before your arrival?”. Such a simple question and imagine asking the question on the phone. Your front desk calls your guest, the guest could be in a meeting, flying on an airplane, eating lunch, does he/she have time to answer the call from some unknown number, most likely not. However, through texting now the guest sees the message at their convenience and identifies who's its from in the message and feel more comfortable to respond at their leisure.
We know as a hospitality manager each guest’s requests can be quite a large list, but remember this is what separates your hotel from your competition. By allowing these ad-hoc message requests pre-arrival you know you can raise your rate over your competitor and probably get it most of the time.
STOP THE MADNESS OF REVIEWS
Now its time for your guest to check-out, and here comes the review piece, which we all love. Let’s build a secret weapon. Find the bad reviews before they post the bad reviews. Leveraging a simple message post check-out that ask the question(s):
Did you enjoy your stay?
Is there anything we can approve on?
Was your pillow fluffy enough?
This list is quite long. The main point is, your property can identify guests who could potentially post a bad review before the bad review. Immediately contacting them after check-out is too late. They have 'left the building'. You cannot assume this survey process is fixed over email. According to statistics emails are only opened 33% of the time versus text message is 98% of the time, thats a big difference.
So now are you ready to conquer this new industry standard? The goal should be fun for your staff and your guests. This process should not be aggravating, the whole point of texting is to “Keep It Simple” If you do it right, you guests will appreciate your property and your staff will thank you.