Like it or not, text messaging will be coming to a hotel near you sooner than later. It’s a communication method that has been trending for the past 10 years and now represents a significant share of mobile phone traffic. In fact, texts equal the number of voice minutes we use on a daily basis. Now, the top hoteliers are adopting this hospitality service to communicate with their guests more quickly and efficiently.
Guests are able to opt into this service when they check in to the hotel and provide their mobile number. Specialized SMS software allows text traffic to be routed through an intelligent server and provide automatic responses to simple queries. Most hotels that are testing this service have set guardrails in place to guarantee timely personal responses. For those of us who text on a regular basis, this is a refreshing alternative to calling the operator and being transferred.
There are hotel apps available that provide a similar experience, but none are as simple as texting. Texting also provides more direct and traceable communication. This allows hotels to quantify and qualify guest requests, which can lead to better response times and more accurate deliveries.
The beauty of SMS is that it is a two-way communication. This not only allows guests to place orders, but also allows hotels to suggest dining options and promotions that will help provide a better guest experience. As with almost everything, moderation is key to success. Providing personalized information at the right time will provide the best experience.
Room availability is a great way to start the guest communication and provide an important service. For many guests, this will be a welcome alternative to waiting in the lobby and trying to get noticed every 20 minutes. From the hotel perspective, a fully integrated SMS system will reduce guest phone calls at peak times during the day. A simple technology that has been successfully adopted by the airline industry will soon serve the lodging community in a positive way.
Email is great for getting the guest to the hotel (promotions and confirmations), but it doesn’t provide the urgency or convenience necessary when the guest is on premise. This is where SMS text really excels and is able to prompt guests with immediate services, offers and dining reservations. Whether guests are traveling for work or pleasure, their feeling connected and “in the know” is always comforting.
It’s somewhat ironic that improved customer service can come from less staff interaction, but sometimes less is more … LOL!