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5 guest communication mistakes and how to avoid them
5 guest communication mistakes and how to avoid them

5 guest communication
mistakes and how to avoid them

In the hospitality industry, guest communication plays a pivotal role in shaping the guest experience. It influences guest booking decisions, sets expectations prior to arrival, and ensures guests feel welcome and well taken care of during their stay. 

In recent years, however, customer communications have changed dramatically. The number of communication channels has expanded, with more consumers choosing to interact with businesses on digital channels over in-person or the telephone. And the speed of mobile communications has created higher expectations than ever before for real-time responses. Meanwhile, staffing shortages have left hotels struggling to uphold service standards. 

How can accommodation operators overcome the challenges? Here, we discuss how to avoid common communication mistakes, provide a snapshot of communication solutions available to hotels today, and share actionable tips for managing communication at every stage of the guest journey

 

What is guest communication in hospitality? 

Guest communication refers to the sharing of information between a hospitality business and its guests, whether in person, on the telephone, or through digital channels like SMS, email, live chat, WhatsApp, and Messenger.

Maintaining open communication with guests is crucial in delivering exceptional guest experiences. No matter where a guest is in their journey, they should be able to easily get in touch with hotels to ask questions, manage reservations, and make requests. 

 

The importance of communication to the guest experience 

The manner in which hotels communicate with travelers has far-reaching implications, influencing sentiment and behavior throughout the traveler’s journey, including: 

  • Impressions of the property and its staff members
  • Decisions whether or not to book a room
  • Expectations upon arrival
  • On-property purchase decisions 
  • Guest feedback via post-stay surveys and reviews
  • Decisions whether or not to return 

Given what’s at stake, hotels must build a communication strategy that ensures a positive experience at every stage of the guest journey. This includes:

  • Pre-stay communications such as chatbots and pre-arrival messaging.
  • In-stay communications such as digital concierge and open text line
  • Post-stay communications such as surveys and loyalty offers

 

The role of the front desk in guest communication 

As the central hub of guest service and communication, the front desk plays a critical role in shaping guest sentiment and behavior. Traditionally, most on-property guest interactions have been handled in person or by telephone. 

Today, more communications and transactions are taking place on digital channels, from guest messaging via SMS, chat apps, and social media messaging to mobile check-in and contactless payments

These modes of communication preferences create several challenges for hotel management:

  • There is less face-to-face contact with guests.
  • There are more communication channels to manage.
  • Guests still expect a presence at the front desk. 
  • Expectations of a quick response are higher than ever.
  • Poor communication can lead to lost business and bad reviews.

To minimize the risks, hoteliers must be aware of the potential pitfalls of poor guest communications and strive for proactive and transparent communications in the front office and across every department on property. 

Chris Hovanessian, Senior Product Manager at Cloudbeds, shares how a guest engagement platform like Whistle for Cloudbeds can help lodging operators communicate with guests throughout their entire journey. 

 

 

5 guest communication mistakes and how to avoid them 

Let’s start with the potential pitfalls and how to overcome them. 

Not listening

Listening is the most important communication skill for hospitality staff. If you don’t understand what guests want, you can’t fulfill their needs. This is a common challenge in digital communications because employees are often multitasking, and messages are skimmed or misinterpreted. To avoid miscommunications, staff must take the time to read messages carefully, pay close attention to detail, and ask questions to clarify. Only then can they be confident their responses will meet the guest’s needs.

 

Delays in replying

The longer a property takes to respond to a guest’s query, the more impatient the guest may become. If the guest is using live chat to inquire about a reservation or pricing, it could lead to lost business. If the guest is in-house, it may result in a bad review. To ensure guests receive prompt responses, hotels should set standards for minimum response times and consider utilizing messaging platforms with built-in automation tools like auto-replies, escalation triggers, and chatbots

 

Poor choice of words

When dealing with guests in person, employees can draw on visual and vocal cues like tone of voice and eye contact to convey empathy and understanding. On digital channels, staff must rely solely on written verbal cues. It’s, therefore, important to pay close attention to the words you use and the tone they convey. To calm and reassure guests, the underlying message should always be, “I understand, and I’m here to help.” Relaying proper communication methods should be part of staff training and be included in standard operating procedures (SOPs)

 

Sending too many messages

Today’s communication tools make it easy to keep in touch with guests, but be careful not to be overly communicative. If guests feel bombarded by messages and notifications, they will opt out. This is particularly true of promotional emails and text messages. Strive for a balance between service messages and promotional messages. For example, relevant offers like a room upsell, or late checkout can enhance the stay while also generating incremental revenue.

 

Not responding to reviews

Whether you receive positive reviews or negative ones, a thoughtful management response not only strengthens traveler perceptions of the property but can also increase repeat bookings. According to Tripadvisor, when a property owner leaves personalized responses to reviews, 77% of Tripadvisor travelers are more likely to book as a result. To leverage the benefits, hoteliers should utilize review tools to collect feedback and establish standards such as responding to negative reviews within 24 hours. 

 

Collect feedback and manage reviews with comment card templates.

 

8 guest communication tips 

In addition to preventing common mistakes, it’s also important to take a proactive approach to manage guest communications. Consider the following practices to ensure guest satisfaction:

Get a head start on the guest’s stay

Rather than wait until check-in to find out guest preferences, send a pre-stay email or text inviting the guest to start planning their stay. Guests will be impressed when you have everything in order upon arrival. You can even use this as an opportunity to offer them a room upgrade to build incremental revenue.

 

Be transparent about changes to operations

Use pre-stay messaging to set guest expectations and ensure there are no unpleasant surprises upon arrival. For example, if the property is undergoing renovations or the restaurant is closed for a private event, take advantage of messaging platforms’ efficiency to inform guests in advance and provide alternatives instead of having them find out at the last minute, which can lead to a bad experience.

 

Give guests more control over their stay

Allow potential guests the choice of helping themselves rather than waiting in line with self-service options like online check-in, mobile concierge services, and self-checkout. Use an FAQ, digital directory, or chatbot to provide quick answers to common questions. 

 

Never overlook the importance of courtesy and professionalism

Digital communications tend to be briefer and more direct than in-person communications, but that doesn’t mean sacrificing courtesy and professionalism. Personalize digital communications by addressing the guest by name when appropriate and identifying who you are and your department or position. 

 

Allow guests to contact you on their preferred channels

Everyone has their preferred way to communicate, whether it’s by email, phone, webchat, SMS, WhatsApp, or Messenger. Strive to maintain an active presence on as many channels as possible without compromising service standards. Today’s guest messaging platforms make it easy by consolidating messages from multiple channels into one unified inbox that can even be integrated with your property management system so you can handle all your guest communication and data in one place. 

 

Choose the right channel for the right types of messages

Depending on the situation, it’s sometimes appropriate to change communication channels. For example, if a guest is angry or frustrated, it’s a good idea to pick up the phone to resolve the issue. If you’re sharing directions or complicated instructions, send the information by email or text with supporting images or links. 

 

Give guests the option of communicating in their preferred language

Some people prefer digital communications because they don’t speak the local language. By using a guest messaging platform with translation functionality, you can quickly interpret messages and respond in the guest’s preferred language. To prevent misunderstandings, always inform guests when you’re using a translation tool.

 

Use automation to ensure consistency in communications

When hotel staff gets busy, tasks can be delayed or forgotten. With a guest communication platform, you can save time by automating certain messages and ensuring guests receive important information at the right time. This includes reservation confirmations, pre-arrival messages, post-stay review requests, and special offers to return.

 

See how Whistle for Cloudbeds can help provide better guest communication.

 

Guest communication platforms

In recent years, all sorts of solutions have been developed to help hotels streamline and automate both external guest communications and internal communications among staff. Here are a few of the most popular options: 

Whistle for Cloudbeds

Whistle for Cloudbeds is a top-rated guest messaging platform that integrates with your PMS and helps properties provide 5-star guest engagement from discovery to post-stay with communication tools that include messaging apps, video, and webchat. Whistle for Cloudbeds has helped properties gain 24% more service recovery opportunities with their comprehensive platform.  

 

HelloShift

HelloShift helps modern hoteliers go digital with an easy-to-use all-in-one platform that includes flexible and automated guest messaging, staff collaboration, housekeeping management, and more.

 

GuestHub

Guesthub is a Guest Experience Management System that enhances the interaction between your guests and internal staff, improving the efficiency, accountability, and traceability of every request made.

 

GuestTalk

GuestTalk creates an instant and direct connection between guests and properties, allowing them to send requests via smartphone and properties to promote their services directly to guests.

 

HelloHere

HelloHere acts like an assistant by providing guests with important information like check-in details, WiFi code, and house rules, as well as sharing your top recommendations for local attractions.

All of these solutions offer integrations with the Cloudbeds PMS, giving hoteliers the freedom to choose the best guest communication platform for their business.

 

See all of Cloudbeds’ guest communication partners.

 

An example of effective guest communication in action: The Pad

Guest communication is important for every property, from hotels to vacation rentals and short-term rentals. Here is just one example of how a lodging business can successfully use guest communication:

In Silverthorne, Colorado, The Pad operates on an innovative hybrid business model that combines the best features of both hotels and hostels. To help drive direct bookings and support the overall guest experience, the company employs Cloudbeds software across the property. 

This includes using the Whistle communication platform to automate pre-arrival guest registration and streamline the check-in process. After just eight months of operation, The Pad has achieved a high rate of 60 to 65% direct bookings and an average guest review rating of 95% with over 1,000 reviews. Their performance can be attributed to the company’s commitment to delivering exceptional guest experiences and harnessing technology to improve guest communications.

 

[Whistle] is a big help to both our staff and guests in terms of increasing and improving communication between parties to make things more seamless,” said Kevin Bowen, Director of Operations

 

Improve guest communications with Cloudbeds.

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