Messaging isn’t just for Millennials. Pew Research shows SMS-messaging is a favored means of communication for travelers of all ages. Text messaging is an essential expression of today’s instant gratification economy and is fast becoming a necessary component of customer service.
Marriott, the Four Seasons, and Loews have all started to offer guests text messaging in recent months. Early experiments show customer satisfaction improves considerably when hotels give guests the opportunity to communicate with hotel staff via text-style messaging. Hotels are also finding expanding communication options for guests is paying off, with improved TripAdvisor rankings and increased ancillary revenue sales.
Adding text messaging to your hotel’s communication stack is not for text messaging’s sake, but rather to provide your guests with a complete set of communication options and the leisure to choose the mode that best fits their particular circumstances and personal preferences.
Texting can have many advantages over other forms of communication, depending on the situation. Texts have a particular grasp on our attention (research shows 90% of text messages are read within 3 minutes) and are thus ideal for communicating information that requires immediate attention, such as last-minute late check-out requests or off-site dinner recommendations. Phone calls are declining in popularity and, texting, which is easier than trying to call (and being placed on hold), is gaining in favor.
Giving guests the option of text-style messaging is not to the exclusion of providing them with a dedicated app for managing requests, but serves as a useful complement. Indeed, texting can also be a valuable gateway communication to inspire guests to download your hotel app. Once guests experience how seamless it is to make requests via text, the value proposition for your hotel app is likely to increase.
“Adding text messaging to your hotel’s communications, however, must not increase operational complexity for your staff. Texting should be treated like any other communications channel (like phone calls, emails, and in-person requests) and funnel to the same integrated back-end,” says ALICE’s Alexander Shashou. “The front desk and concierge already have so many channels and systems to worry about, adding texting into the existing solution is paramount.” Like these other modes, texting can then have its own organized text trail, and work to enrich a valuable customer profile.
Texting also has an operational advantage over phone and in-person requests as it provides fewer opportunities for error in recording a guest request. And unlike placing a call from the hotel room phone, or making an in-person request, texting gives guests the option to message the hotel on- or off-property, before, during or after their stay.
Customer service in hospitality or any other industry is about putting the needs of the guest first. Giving your guests the option to communicate with your hotel via text - in addition to communicating via app, email or any of the more traditional methods - shows your hotel prioritizes the guest’s preferred experience.