Texting has become one of the most popular forms of communication. No longer do we have to make a phone call to have our questions answered. Texting allows people to do multiple things at once, but when we make a phone call we can only focus on one thing at a time. US smartphone users send and receive five times more texts than phone calls. Texting offers immediate contact and brands are catching on. As a hotel, there are many ways to implement an SMS text strategy to better communicate with your guests.
There are an incredible number of services out there to power any hotel’s text strategy. We’ll discuss the current statistics, present a few case studies, and give you some ideas on how to get started.
As we mentioned above, people prefer to text people over call them. This is likely due to the fact that texting gives a sense of immediacy, according to Cornell’s Chekitan Dev. When someone has a quick question, a text takes 15 seconds where a phone call might take a minute. It may seem trivial, but it’s not.
75% of travelers have one or more mobile devices and the percentage is higher for younger travelers, according to Matthew Carroll, Marriott Hotel’s vice president. When people travel, they are willing and able to communicate with brands via their devices.
Using simple texts means that guest do not have to download an app to utilize the service. Apps are great, but only if a guest downloads it and then remembers to use it. Texting is already a part of normal consumer behavior, so friction is low.
There are several hotels who already offer text services. Some are fairly simple, while others feel like a gimmick. Many hotels use it as a way to extend their concierge’s service or for the front desk to address issues quickly. And others use it as a fun way to engage their guests in a way no other hotels do.
Back in 2014, four hotels were in a text pilot program where they guaranteed guests a response in four minutes, according to USA Today. A guest could ask for anything from NFL tickets to dinner reservations. The hotels focused on giving guests immediate attention, no matter what their request was.
Marriott created a similar strategy to The Four Seasons when they began their text-based service. Marriott wanted to decrease the need for a guest to pick up the phone, according to ABC. They’ve found that the key to guest happiness it reducing the time it takes to fulfill requests.
Aloft got funky with their text-based service when they introduced emoji room service called Text It, Get It. They offer different packages such as the Sightseer, which includes a metro card and drinks. Or, The Hangover, which includes Vitaminwater, Advil and bananas. The millennial-focused brand knows how their guests communicate and wanted to step up to their level.
This type of strategy is more of a gimmick than the others. We only suggest implementing this type of strategy if you have a young, engaged audience. Otherwise, guests are unlikely to use it. A property could use this strategy alongside the more utilitarian ones mentioned above, but they would need to create a balance.
When guests register, have them provide their phone number. The day before their arrival, you can remind them of their check-in time, daily specials, and other important information. The day they arrive you can let them know when their room will be ready. If there are any problems the day of, like delayed check-in, you can alert them before they’re even at the property. Text is a great way to increase communication at any point.
Your concierge and front desk staff know your property and city better than anyone. Use a text-based strategy to offer your guests value whenever they need it most. A phone call requires a lot more effort than a text, and your staff can be there to aide your guests. Of course, if a guest’s request is totally undoable, you may have to pick up the phone.
A text-based strategy could help reduce phone calls to the front desk. When your front desk receives a call, they may be in the middle of another task. With a text, your employees can get to it when they don’t have their hands full. The guest can still receive a timely request, but it decreases stress for both parties.
The night before a guest’s departure, you can let them know their check-out time. Also ask them if there’s anything they need prior to their departure such as a shuttle or cab service.
After a guest leaves, you can ask them how their stay was and prompt them to fill out a survey. If they have any immediate comments or concerns, they can let your staff know.
There are many text services out there and we gathered information on the top few that are used in hospitality.
Zingle wants you to say goodbye to inefficient phone calls. They want to decrease the amount of time your staff spends on the phone and avoid putting customers on hold. Zingle offers a solution to text your guests from any device. Your staff can send and receive texts from phones, computers, and tablets. Current hospitality customers use Zingle for room service and dining, spa appointments, requests, and valet. Guests send a text to a phone number and your staff receives a message in an easy-to-use software. When your employees respond, the guests will receive a text back the same way they received it. No need to download an extra app or install other software. You can see their full description here.
Zingle already has prestigious clients such as Marriott, Loews, MGM, and more.
HeyWire is another software that can help your property implement a new text-based service. Their software offers ‘on-the-go’ guest services and helps you connect with your guests on a personal basis. It’s important to be there when your guests need you most, and HeyWire allows you to do just that.
Some of their capabilities include services such as reservation changes, confirmations, late arrivals, deals and rewards, access room service, VIP guest services, and beyond. Their software allows your front desk to respond from all devices including computers, tablets, and phones. You can read more about their services here.
Checkmate is another service that allows business to text their customers. They use a software that allows your hotel to send and receive messages. Checkmate also allows you to automate welcome messages and reminders throughout a guest’s stay. Their service will help you save time, improve team collaboration, automate tedious tasks, and gain operational insights.
Their recent blog post highlights how text-based services can increase TripAdvisor rankings. Higher TripAdvisor ratings correlate with higher RevPar and greater profits for your property. You can read more about their services and request a demo here.
A text message strategy benefits properties of all shapes and sizes. Texts increase communication and decrease friction between your employees and the guests. They have the ability to make your guests happier while increasing your property’s efficiency. In a world where everyone is on the go, texts are a perfect way to connect with your guests.