Smile! That’s what hotel staff are trained to do even when talking on the phone. When you smile, you sound pleasant and interested. What are we to do in a world of texting and chat?
As text messaging and chat become the communication channels of choice for consumers, more hotels are adapting to the trend by inviting travelers to connect with them by SMS, chat widget, or messaging app.
Consumers love messaging because it’s fast, easy, and convenient. A Nielsen-Facebook survey found that 56 percent of people would rather message a business than call customer service. And more than half of respondents said they are more likely to shop with a business they can message directly.
For hotels, messaging represents a fundamental shift in how employees communicate with guests—and with one another. To help with the transition, employees need tools and guidelines. Above all, they need strong leadership.
Whether you’re a general manager, front office manager, or hands-on owner, here are six steps to success in text messaging and chat.
Hotels have numerous options for messaging software, but not all are created equal. Beware of “free” solutions, standalone apps, and chatbots that try to substitute human hospitality with artificial intelligence.
Your messaging platform should be designed to serve the unique needs of hotels. And it should integrate with your internal communication systems to facilitate collaboration across shifts, departments, and properties.
If the messaging solution is overly complex, it will be avoided by staff. Keep it simple and easy to learn so that staff love messaging as much as guests.
Who should oversee guest messaging? The front desk is the obvious choice. It’s open 24 hours, and staff are skilled in guest service and trained in reservations. Besides, with fewer guests calling and dropping by these days, it’s often an underutilized resource.
But all departments play a role in internal messaging. As a manager, you must ensure that employees understand and fulfill their responsibilities so that no guest request goes unfilled and nothing falls through the cracks. Keep a close eye on communications, looking for opportunities to increase efficiency and improve service.
Messaging with guests is different from messaging with friends. Without proper guidelines, employees risk coming across as unprofessional or impersonal, and guests may end up frustrated or angry.
Set basic guidelines such as:
Once you have the tools, responsibilities and guidelines in place, it’s time to reach out to travelers. Here are a few ways to connect:
It’s high time to ease off paper-based memos, forms, logbooks, checklists, and phone calls, which are inefficient, hard to track, and easily misplaced. Today, everything should be digitized so that it’s accessible and trackable from any device or location. This includes policies and procedures, schedules, task lists, and contact lists.
Use automation tools to send texts to select guests at certain times of day, auto-replies to advise incoming messages of average wait times, and message templates to instantly reply to common questions and requests. Set up notifications to alert staff of daily tasks, cleaning schedules, and preventative maintenance.
Last, create accountability by setting objectives and tracking performance, including average response times, task completion rates, direct bookings, upsells, and guest ratings. Share results with the team, recognize achievements, and inspire staff to strive even harder to master the art of messaging.
For more tips and ideas, check out HelloShifts’s Hotelier’s Guide to Digital Messaging .
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Owner Milan Patel was an early HelloShift adopter who continues to develop innovative ways to use HelloShift's flexible hotel workflow app. With HelloShift, Mr. Patel has experienced tremendous operational efficiencies while accelerating sales and transforming maintenance.
Teams at TNJ portfolio hotels work with the main office in a hub-and-spoke model from lead qualification through contract approval. And meaningful reports illuminate the sales cycle. With HelloShift, sales and guest success is everybody's job.