“Mobile messaging is the new language of the globe,” according to Skift.
With mobile messaging identified as a megatrend in the travel industry—reaching an expected 1.1 billion users by 2018—industry leaders are steadily embracing the opportunity to communicate one-on-one with guests.
When effectively used, mobile messaging allows travelers to effortlessly access and request key information and services, without phoning the hotel concierge, connecting to the hotel website, or rummaging through printed materials.
Today 66% of consumers now prefer to reach a brand through though messaging apps, which makes mobile messaging an effective and personal way to efficiently fulfil the on-property needs of guests.
A successful mobile messaging strategy can boost ancillary sales, improve reviews on TripAdvisor, and enhance the overall guest experience. Here’s how to do it:
Mobile messaging is an effective way to connect with guests, but only if they opt into the conversation.
Make the effort to actively promote your presence on mobile messaging platforms, whether via the hotel website or pre-arrival emails, and ensure guests know they can directly communicate with you there.
Guestfolio CRM, which sends automated and personalized email campaigns, invites guests to seamlessly transfer communication from email to WhatsApp, with just the click of a button.
You can also save the mobile number of guests, and other personal information, in their portfolio, allowing you to easily communicate with them during future stays.
Send meaningful content
Your guests’ text messaging inbox is full of private and intimate conversations between friends and family, which means your hotel has been given privileged access to a sacred space.
Unlike email, mobile messaging platforms are designed for one-on-one conversations.
Many hotels make the mistake of sending the same content to mobile messaging platforms that they’d send via email, which can quickly feel disruptive.
Instead, reserve mobile messaging for communication purposes and restrict purely promotional content to email marketing campaigns.
When and how to message guests
How much communication is too much communication, and what content do guests love to receive?
From the beginning to the end of your guest’s trip cycle, here are a few great examples of meaningful mobile messages you can send to your hotel guests:
● Confirm bookings
Send the booking confirmation via mobile messaging platforms for quick access. That way, your guests can avoid rummaging around in their email inbox. Even better, try sending weather alerts or directions just before arrival, or directly mobile message a clickable link for an online, self-service check-in option.
● Warmly welcome your guests
From the moment your guests check-in at your hotel, send off a timely warm welcome that informs guests of how they can make the most of mobile messaging. Incentivize guests to continue the conversation by pairing the welcome text with the wifi password at your hotel.
● In-room service
For an ultra-convenient in-room experience, send a message informing guests that room service can be ordered directly from their mobile phone. Not only will it enhance the guest experience, in-room service via mobile messaging has been proven to boost ancillary sales. Design an “emoji only” room service menu, like this hotel did, to make the experience both effortless and fun.
● Share events
Do you have an exciting one-off event happening in or around your property? Keep your guests in the loop! Why not pair the event announcement with a discount code or exclusive deal?
● Ask for, and encourage, feedback
Mobile messaging is a non-confrontational platform, which means guests are more likely to send in suggestions or feedback midway through their stay.
An approachable message, like, “How is your stay going so far? Please let us know if there’s anything we can do to make you more comfortable!”, will invite your guests to enhance their overall experience at your hotel, while giving you the opportunity to directly address any issues that arise in real-time.
Humanize your messages
Mobile messaging is a social platform, which means guests are open to receiving more playful and relatable content.
Mobile messaging is conversational, just like traditional interaction between guests and staff. Guests like to be reminded that they’re chatting with a human, so keep your tone casual and avoid mass canned responses.
Simple language cues, like addressing your guest on a first-name basis, and adding emojis or a friendly sign-off, like “cheers”, can help you achieve an authentic tone.
Prioritize response times
Mobile messaging has the potential for a high-level of guest engagement, and it also requires quick response times.
A survey published on Skift revealed that guests were willing to wait just 12 minutes for a text messaging response, compared to 26 minutes for an email reply and 27 minutes for a response to a social media request.
Since guests expect instant communication on mobile messaging platforms, train your staff to efficiently manage relevant channels and be as responsive as possible to incoming messages.
So what’s better, an in-house app or external application?
Many large hotel chains are opting to build an internal hotel application, housing a direct mobile messaging service within the app.
While this may be an effective strategy for some brands, it’s possible many of your guests already suffer from “app fatigue,” with too many unused apps already downloaded on their phone. It’s also a high-risk project, involving a significant financial commitment.
In the meantime, just as many industry leaders are preferring to communicate with guests on platforms they’re already using, like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat and more.
After Starwood released a WhatsApp-based mobile messaging strategy,
Daniel Kerzner summed up its success by saying, “it’s really about being where our guests want to be.”
Find out where your guests would most like to chat by sending out a quick survey in an email campaign, or analyze trends in your data to identify what platforms will best connect with your guests.
By allowing guests to communicate with your hotel on their own terms, your mobile messaging strategy can help you effectively achieve better engagement, while delivering great guest experiences.