More and more hoteliers are discovering the many advantages of direct guest messaging. Whether it’s increased operational efficiency, boosted revenue, more direct bookings or a better guest experience, this new way of communicating with your guests can massively benefit your property, especially after months of low demand and reduced revenue.
But that’s not the only reason direct guest messaging is on everyone’s mind these days.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed how hoteliers communicate with clients. Social distancing measures were put in place and contactless guest interactions became the new norm. Direct messaging platforms proved to be a guest-friendly way to help hotels reduce in-person interactions.
Whether you’re new to digital guest communication or you want to refine your approach, the following 14 dos and don’ts will help you get on the right track.
The dos: Upgrading your direct guest messaging
Check off these ten simple steps and your guests will be eager to hear from you!
- Customise your messages: Use the guest’s name and other details about them to personalise your messages as much as possible. Today’s travellers love tailored service, so don’t disappoint them with generic phrases like ‘dear valued guest.’
- Respond on time: When guests reach out with a request, they expect an answer. The good thing is that you can send timely replies without having to monitor your messaging app 24/7. How? Set it up so it automatically answers simple questions (e.g. about check-out time or the Wi-Fi password). That frees up your team for unique queries or other tasks.
- Manage expectations: Sometimes, people will message you while you’re away. Set up an automatic reply that tells them when you’ll get back to them. If you need more time to respond to a question (e.g. about special promotions or custom packages for an extended stay), let them know approximately how long it will take.
- Set standards: Direct messaging mediums (e.g. text, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger…) can feel casual but that doesn’t mean you should let go of your communication standards. All digital guest interactions should still follow your brand guidelines to create a consistent guest experience. Train your staff on best practices and create standard operating procedures (e.g. answer templates), so new team members can learn quickly.
- Introduce yourself: When you first contact guests via a messaging platform, include a quick introduction. Why? Maybe not everyone will remember checking the box to get extra offers for their stay, so they may not expect to hear from you. A short intro solves this and can set your message up for success.
- Get ahead of problems: Direct messaging allows you to proactively offer important information before guests have to ask for it (e.g. the Wi-Fi password or breakfast hours). You can also check in with clients while they’re in-house to ask if they’re satisfied. If not, they’re more likely to tell you via text. This gives you a chance to correct it, delight your guests and avoid negative reviews.
- Promote relevant offers and services: If you message your guests before their trip, you can offer them room upgrades or personalised add-ons. For example, if you know a guest is travelling with a dog, propose your hotel’s signature pet welcome package and send them a map with the best places to go for a walk. To find the perfect offer to send, think about what could make their stay as simple, fun and memorable as possible.
- Ask for reviews: Send a short thank-you note after your guests check out. After showing your appreciation for their business, ask them for a quick review. Provide the link to the review site, so they can share their feedback while they’re on the way to the airport. This can increase the number of reviews you get and help you drive business in the future.
- Let guests opt out: It’s sad but true: not every guest wants messages asking about their stay or promoting customised add-ons. Avoid annoying these people by making it easy for them to opt out. And don’t worry, they’ll let you know if there’s something they need.
- Do a test run: Test various scenarios before taking your direct guest messaging platform live. Here are a few points to review to ensure you’ve set up your platform properly:
- Are your messages in line with your branding?
- Does the app send the right auto-responses?
- If you’re using a segmentation function, is it working correctly?
- How many messages does the average guest receive?
- Are requests automatically forwarded to the department concerned?
The don’ts: Direct guest messaging mistakes to avoid
Now, let’s have a look at four no-goes in guest messaging. Steer clear of them and tick the boxes above to ace your contactless guest communication.
- Waiting until check-in: Provide direct communication options from the beginning of the customer journey. That means adding a chat box to your website, connecting during the pre-arrival phase and while your guests are in-house. These extra touch points give you more chances to get to know your guests and delight them.
- Spamming your guests: If you flood people with too many messages, they’re more likely to opt out. Stick with sending five to seven messages during the guest journey and do some testing to find out what gets you the best results. Also, remember that every message should add value to your guest’s stay. If it doesn’t, don’t send it.
- Writing endless, confusing messages: Direct messaging should make your guest’s stay easier. Reflect that in your messages by keeping them short and to the point. If needed, use bulleted lists and line breaks to make a long text easier to read.
- Avoiding real-life interactions: Although contactless guest communication is a great tool, it has its limits. Call or meet your guest personally if there’s a big issue. This reduces the risk of miscommunication. Taking the time for a personal conversation also shows you truly care about fixing the problem. Finally, even if there’s no major problem, some people prefer going to the front desk personally or calling. If messaging isn’t their thing, that’s ok.
And that’s a wrap. Now it’s over to you to begin implementing the points above and make your guest messaging a new pillar of successful guest service at your property.