Direct guest messaging has been on the rise in hotels for some time now. And it’s not hard to see why.
It can increase your hotel’s operational efficiency by saving you hours of manual work each day, boost revenue, drive more direct bookings, and enhance the guest experience as well as your review scores.
Especially in times where many properties work with reduced staff and have lost revenue in the past months, these benefits are immensely valuable.
But there’s another reason direct guest messaging gained extra importance in light of COVID-19. The pandemic changed how hoteliers communicate with staff and clients.
From one day to the next, contactless guest interactions went from being a ‘nice to have’ to an absolute must. Direct messaging platforms help hotels implement contactless communication in a guest-friendly way.
If you’ve decided to jump on this bandwagon or up your game in this domain, here are the 14 key dos and don’ts of direct guest messaging you must know about.
The dos: How to make your guest messaging amazing
Follow the ten simple steps below and your guests will be delighted to hear from you!
- Personalise your messages: Whether you speak to your guests in person, via email or text message, personalise your communication as much as possible. Use the guest’s name and everything else you know about them to customise your conversation. Given today’s options in tech and people’s desire for individual service, nothing is worse than generic phrases like ‘dear valued guest.’
- Respond quickly: Speed is important with direct guest messaging. Does that mean you have to monitor messaging apps 24/7 and always respond within seconds? Not at all! Today’s guest messaging tools can take over when you need a break. You can also set them up to respond instantly to simple questions (e.g. about the Wi-Fi password or restaurant hours). That frees up your team’s time for the more complex questions.
- Manage expectations: If people reach out while you’re away, send an automated reply telling them when they’ll hear from you. Similarly, if you need some time to answer a question, tell guests when they can expect an answer. In case you use a bot that can only handle specific queries (e.g. restaurant reservations, general questions about the hotel…) make that clear from the start.
- Create and implement standards: Just because you’re communicating on mediums that feel more casual (e.g. text, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger…), doesn’t mean your standards should go out the window. Every guest interaction should be in line with your brand standards to create a consistent guest experience. Ensure your staff knows how to navigate this by training your team and preparing standard operating procedures (e.g. answer templates), so you can onboard new team members quickly .
- Introduce yourself: If you reach out to your guests via a messaging platform, introduce yourself briefly. Why? Because maybe not everyone will remember checking the box for receiving offers or further information about the hotel, so they may not be expecting a text from you. Also, remember how it was common courtesy to say your name on the phone before caller ID was invented? This is a similar situation.
- Get ahead of problems: You can proactively offer relevant information, so guests don’t even have to ask for it (e.g. the Wi-Fi password or breakfast hours). Check in with clients during their stay to ask if everything is going well. If something is amiss, they’re more likely to tell you via text. Then you’ll get a chance to correct it, delight your guests and avoid negative reviews.
- Promote relevant offers and services: If you reach out to your guests before their trip, you can offer them room upgrades or relevant add-ons. If someone has shared their flight details, you may propose an airport transfer. If they’re travelling with kids, you can suggest family-friendly activities or dining options. Always think about how you can make their stay as simple and enjoyable as possible with targeted, personalised offers.
Here’s how Lucas Höfer from Ruby Hotels puts it: “It’s important that we make an effort to get this right for the customer. You can only expect so much attention from the guest. And you need to care and look after this, protect it, and use it in the best possible way – it’s essential to look at the value that each message offers.”
- Ask for reviews: Send your guests a short thank you note after check-out. At the same time, you can ask them for a quick review. If you provide them with the link to the review site and your message reaches them while they’re in the taxi to the airport or waiting for their train, they’ll be most likely to go for it.
- Allow guests to opt out: As hard as it may be to hear, not everyone wants text messages asking about their stay or promoting special offers. Make it easy for people to opt out to avoid annoying them. If there’s something they need, they’ll let you know.
- Test your messaging platform: Go through different scenarios before taking your direct guest messaging platform live. Here are a few questions to answer:
- How do your messages look? Is their branding on point?
- Does the tool send the correct automated responses?
- If you have a segmentation option, is it working correctly?
- How many messages go out to the average guest?
- Do requests get forwarded to the right department?
Going through these questions will help you ensure your platform is set up correctly and does its job of helping you create a smoother guest experience. If you want to know more, our expert team is more than willing to assist you.
The don’ts of direct guest messaging – Mistakes to avoid
If you tick the boxes above and avoid the following mistakes, you’re on the best way to acing contactless guest communication. Let’s dive in!
- Waiting until check-in: Offer direct communication options from the first moment your guest finds out about your hotel. This includes adding a chat option on your website, reaching out in the pre-arrival phase and while guests are in-house. The more of these points you implement, the more chances you have to get to know your guests and make their stay amazing.
- Spamming your guests: If you bombard your guests with too many messages, they’re more likely to opt out. A good rule of thumb is to send five to seven messages during the guest journey. It may take some testing to find the sweet spot at your property, so listen to your guests’ feedback. Also, keep in mind that every message should be relevant to your clients and add value to their stay. If it doesn’t add value, don’t send it.
- Writing long, confusing messages: The goal of direct messaging is to make your guests’ stay easier. Your messages should reflect that. Keep them short and to the point. Use bulleted lists and line breaks if you need to break up a longer text.
- Avoiding real-life interactions: Contactless guest communication is a great tool, but it has its limits. If there’s a big issue, call or meet the guest personally. This allows you to do two things. First, you can avoid miscommunication and won’t make the problem worse. Second, you show you care about fixing the problem when you take the time for a personal conversation. Also, keep in mind that some people simply prefer going to the reception or calling. If messaging isn’t for them, that’s ok.
That’s it for our top guest messaging tips. Now, it’s your turn. Which ones are you ready to apply? If you’ve hit a bump in the road or need some expert advice, our team is happy to help.conciergedigital servicesguest communicationsguest servicemarketing