Smartphones have provided hotels with a number of ways for guests and potential customers to get in touch. But which mobile channels should you focus on?
Choosing the right mobile channel for your hotel involves a number of factors, including the location of your hotel, the type of guests you cater for and other factors. These are the key advantages to consider of branded mobile apps, SMS, push notifications and chatbots:
Branded mobile app
88% of hotel guests want a mobile app which offers a personalised experience.
Having a branded mobile app for your hotel can greatly simplify your guests’ stay by keeping everything they need to know in one place. This includes their check-in information, meal times and information about hotel facilities and services.
Hyatt uses their branded mobile app to enable guests to view special offers, book and modify their reservations, check out and view their bill all in one place. This takes some of the hassle out of travelling and keeping track of reservations, as users can simply open up your app instead of hunting through their emails for the right information.
A branded mobile app can add further convenience for guests with numerous helpful features such as enabling quick access to your WiFi, ordering room service or booking services and facilities. Some hotels even use geo-fencing to enable automatic hassle-free check-ins. Your hotel app can provide guests with a wide variety of useful options and services.
Your app can also increase return stays by personalising the services and offers they receive on the app. For example, offering guests who make use of your hotel spa a discount for their next visit, or remembering their specific drinks orders or room service requests.
Automated texting apps are a reliable way to send guests quick or last-minute updates and reminders which will be read within a few minutes. Texting is one of the safest ways to ensure your recipient gets the message on time, as 89% of people have their smartphone available at all times. This makes SMS the perfect channel to send a wide variety of messages, from automated reminders about booking times or review requests, to exclusive offers and discounts for returning guests.
Unlike your app and chatbot, SMS still lets you communicate with guests when they can’t get online. If your hotel is located in a region with poor mobile internet availability, it can be more reliable and convenient to send information by text instead. Texting is also more accessible and easy to use – everyone knows how to text.
Texting important information can also be considerably cheaper for overseas visitors. Most mobile networks charge significant costs for mobile data when travelling abroad, except when travelling between EU countries, so your customers could be charged simply for getting online to check your app or chatbot, or receive your notifications.
Push notifications let you send quick messages to guests who have downloaded your app. These can be used to provide extra information and reminders about events, dinner service or transportation. Push notifications can take users straight to specific offers or services available on your app, making them a useful way to let guests know about services and facilities they might not be aware of.
In addition to the upselling opportunities they offer, push notifications are a great way to inform your guests about local events, venues and activities. Combined with your branded app, guests could book an event and arrange transportation all through a few simple taps, increasing uptake of these offers.
Personalised push notifications linking users to specific pages and offers within your site or app could increase your retention rates sevenfold. Send guests messages based on the services and events they showed interest in on their previous visits to increase the chance they will respond to the notification.
Push notifications are also useful in marketing and encouraging guests to return, as while your app remains on their phone you can still send them notifications for return discounts or offers about local events they might be interested in.
Don’t go overboard and spam your app users though, or they’ll just delete your app. Make sure the push notifications you send are personalised to each user’s interests.
Chatbots enable your guests to get information and make bookings in a more natural and conversational manner than interacting with an app or website. These can be very useful for guests who don’t want to visit your website or download your app during their stay.
Simple chatbots can respond to queries and keywords to provide guests with prepared responses, and can be used to automate a wide variety of customer service functions including bookings and ordering room service. Cosmopolitan Las Vegas found that guests who interacted with their chatbot would spend up to 30% more than other guests.
For example, Aloft’s ChatBotlr enables guests to make requests, order room service and ask for information via SMS, among other functions. This makes it simple for their guests to make arrangements without needing to go to the front desk or even be at the hotel.
AI-powered chatbots can do even more, able to understand and interpret guests’ requests to pass instructions on to the relevant member of staff. This enables them to respond correctly to more complex, specific or unusual requests and queries you don’t have a prepared response for. Additionally, most AI-powered chatbots speak many languages, making them extremely useful for international guests.
Effective use of any mobile channel starts with focusing on how to increase the convenience and value you offer guests. Focus on the mobile channels your guests are comfortable with using, and play to the strengths of each channel in order to maximise the benefits to both you and your guests.
Remember that you can use your mobile channels to stay in touch with guests even after their stay. Use this to offer exclusive discounts to incentivise a return visit, and personalise their experience by remembering their preferences and special requests in your app and messages to guests.