Hotels have in general been slow at introducing new ways to connect and interact with their guests directly to their mobile, especially considering a vast majority of their clients are already using a smartphone daily! Users spend more than one out of every five minutes on Facebook via their mobile. Facebook also announced recently that more than 700 million monthly active users engage with Messenger. Think about how you communicate with your friends and family today – we have become so accustomed to instant messaging being an important part of the way we communicate with others.
Over the past couple of years, we have started to see major companies like Tesco, Audi and more recently El Corte Ingles in Spain beginning to use Facebook Messenger as a new tool to connect with their customers. More recently, Hyatt was the first hotel chain to announce that they were testing a new guest service channel using Facebook’s new “Businesses on Messenger”, currently only available in the US.
Hotels and resorts are also starting to be aware of a higher number of guest interactions from smartphones for complaints, questions or posting photos. Clients want solutions in real time, from dealing with a complaint to booking a table in the restaurant, or just finding out what they can explore within your local area. Reservation confirmations, which are usually sent to emails are one-way forms of communication which don’t provide your guest an opportunity to personalise their stay further. Facebook Messenger can also provide a better online booking experience by offering real time support for the user to navigate through the transactional parts of a booking and improving the overall user experience. Interacting with your clients in real time is becoming a necessity for hotels, especially as it will help improve guest experience and satisfaction that leads to increased revenue performance.
So how can you implement this into your hotel operation?
- Which department should be responsible for responding to guests? Offering messaging in real time needs to be available 24/7, so reception would be the logical choice. They must ensure that they are always online on messenger, so having the page open on one of the back office computers is ideal.
- Ensure that all your marketing material throughout the hotel, as well as online via your web, booking engines as well as your descriptions on Tripadvisor, Booking, etc., include that you provide 24/7 real-time guest support on Facebook Messenger.
- Interacting with your guests, rather than reacting will allow you to anticipate your clients wants and needs, sometimes before they even tell you!
- Connecting with your guests on a personal and emotional level will also enable your team to build relationships and trust that will allow your hotel to increase guest satisfaction and reservations booked directly overtime.
All of us are so accustomed to using instant messaging, so it should be only natural that hotels & resorts are exploring new ways to interact with their guests and offer that personalised experience that every hotel wants to provide.
Hoteliers should also be aware that as Google starts to become an OTA, Google Now will also be an important part of your guest communication strategy in the not too distant future.
John Kearney is Director of Hotelient as well as Hotel Sales & Consultancy Specialist with over 15 years of experience in managing hotels. Hotelient provides guest marketing solutions to hotels across Europe If you would like to find out about more ways to connect to your guests and increase your RevPar performance, email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.