We live on our phones. We use them to travel, use them for important family messaging, and confirm every appointment with SMS. And if you run a hotel, the question isn’t whether you can use text messages to reach out to your customers. The question is: why haven’t you already?
Using online text messaging can help with automated check-in notifications to enhancing the guest experience to room service. Hoteliers who want to strengthen their front desk experience know that your customer service doesn’t start as soon as a guest approaches your desk. It begins as soon as they book their hotel room. And in a hospitality industry that’s growing increasingly reliant on contactless service, SMS text messaging has never been so important.
How Can Hotels Use Text Messaging?
For many hotels, the chief alternative to text messaging is to build an app of your own. Building an app can potentially help automate the check-in process. But let’s be honest: while your most die-hard customers might download the app, how many people are going to want to add an app to their phone to interact with you? The world’s gone app-crazy. You need a more realistic way to deal with your hotel guests and streamline that communication in a way everyone can handle.
Done right, your SMS marketing can include every feature that an app would try to provide, giving you all the benefits that come with it. But the chief advantage is that you wouldn’t need hotel guests to download an app to the same place they make their phone calls.
What else can you do with text messaging once you have a customer’s phone number? Consider the following:
• Reservations. This applies both to your dining and your hotel rooms. You can use templates that automatically update your guests with confirmations, changes to the reservations, and any other pertinent information.
• Upsells. Anyone who’s ever worked in the industry knows that the profit isn’t in the pricing. It’s also in the upsells. With guest messaging, you can begin automation and workflows that send potential upsell to the guests, particularly if they’ve signed in and want to hear updates about your offerings.
• Additional requests. Anyone who’s worked in property management knows that workflows are contingent on what the guests want. That will change from time to time. With SMS or even social media integration, you can have customized responses that don’t feel like forms or templates. This helps you improve the “concierge” feeling that comes with staying in your hotel, rather than simply throwing a key at a guest and hoping they have a lovely stay.
Can You Send Offers and Promotions Through Text?
In a word, yes. But there is a caveat. Remember that if someone books a hotel room through TripAdvisor, for example, they might not have provided you with their phone number. You’ll have to remember this is a two-way street.
The rule on sending out offers and promotions through text is that you can’t send these offers and promotions unless you get someone’s permission. Make it clear that when someone signs up with you, that’s what they’re getting. Make it part of the reason they sign up. Your most loyal customers should want unique offers and promotions. And delivering them through text is the most efficient way to get them in your loyal guests’ hands.
Let people opt-in to your offers and promotions using a text messaging marketing service, and you’ll have things squared away. Remember: it’s up to people to sign up. If you sign up for them, then you’ll not only be rubbing some people the wrong way, but you may run afoul of the regulations that govern who you can and can’t text.
When people do sign up, however, you’ll want to know what you’re capable of doing:
• Booking reminders. It’s unlikely that most guests will forget they’ve booked a hotel room. But as any hotelier knows, if you book enough rooms, some people might overlook it. You never know. A trip was canceled, a miscommunication happened down the line—whatever it was, you can be sure that automating booking reminders is one of the best ways to keep your guests in the loop. And from your end, it’s easy to handle automatically.
• Requesting reviews. A good customer review online is worth its weight in gold. So don’t just stand idly by, hoping for guests to fill one out! Give people a TripAdvisor link, for example, and let them know you’d love a review if they enjoyed their stay.
Once you understand the potential marketing benefits, you’ll see how initiating a texting program like this can lead to better patient retention. The result is a more stable dental practice—often with more predictable hours.
Can You Interact with Your Guests Through Text?
Hotel management and guest engagement don’t have to go through the front door anymore. If you want to make sure your guest satisfaction is where it should be, you’ll have to open new communication channels. Texting happens to be one of the most engaging and immediate there is.
Let people text your company’s SMS number and hotel staff with requests. After all, these requests would come in anyway; it’s more convenient for someone to shoot one-off from their phone. The hotel industry can be highly personal; it requires personal interaction that other companies don’t always provide.
You may think that guest requests will fly in by the thousands as soon as you enable text messaging with your guests. But it’s not the case that they’re going to want more other than basic hotel services. If you want to improve your customer satisfaction, opening channels like these will be integral to your success. The interactions will, oddly, feel more “personal,” even though it comes through text. And if you want good online reviews, you need to find ways to generate those positive reviews. Texting someone on their terms is the best way to get started. And it won’t hurt your marketing efforts, either, when you can remind your guests about their enjoyable stay and ask for a good review. Chances are, you’ll get one.