Using automated messaging or conversational AI as a guest communication and support channel is still a novelty for a large majority of hotels. Although this technology has a widespread use in many consumer-oriented industries, hospitality is yet to take full advantage of its powerful automation capabilities.
In our previous post, we wrote an introduction to conversational AI and covered some of the key use cases for hotels. Here, we’re going to get into details of how your hotel can use messaging to power the entire guest life cycle, from pre-arrival to post-departure, and look at all the different activities that you can automate to bring a positive impact to revenue.
Guests now expect a different kind of interaction with your hotel - they’re looking for personalized, one-to-one communication from the moment they decide to book with you.
The pre-arrival stage is the perfect time for you to make them feel like they’ve made the best possible decision by choosing to stay with you. You should provide them with valuable, personalized information and have staff available 24/7 to answer any questions they may have.
Now, this level of service is time and resource-intensive and quite difficult to achieve without some level of automation. This is where a hotel messaging platform comes in.
A question that hoteliers often ask is ‘how do guests discover that the hotel has a messaging channel available?’ so let’s answer this one first.
When a guest makes a reservation, you’ll typically send them a ‘reservation confirmation’ email. This is the perfect opportunity to introduce your messaging tool and let guests know on which platform they can find it e.g. Messenger, WhatsApp, SMS, or within a hotel app.
You can also provide a short description of the possibilities and services available, so the guests have a clear picture of what they can expect.
In the pre-arrival stage, you can leverage automated messaging to be proactive with your guest request, meaning you can send them messages to inquire if they have any particular needs or wants during their stay.
Your guests will feel good about your customer service and your staff won’t be overloaded with last minute requests once the guests arrive.
Another key capability of this solution is that it allows you to get your guest excited about the things they can enjoy during their stay, like your top amenities, activities, local attractions, etc., and help them plan their visit.
For most guests, it will also be important to know that, although fully automated, your messaging tool can connect them to one of your staff for live support, should they need something beyond what it can do for them.
Before they arrive at your hotel, guests will surely have some questions about check in, parking options, transportation, and more. To get answers, they’ll need to go to your website and sift through pages of content, call your front desk, or double check all email communications with your hotel to look for the info they need.
None of the above options is easy or convenient. Automated messaging, on the other hand, is a perfect channel for handling FAQs instantaneously. It’s available 24/7 to answer questions like:
A well-trained automated messaging platform can handle questions like this for hundreds of guests simultaneously - no capacity constraints and no overhead.
Additionally, you can send notifications to guests to inform them that their room is ready or to make their wait more pleasant by suggesting a snack at a bar or a cup of coffee. As you can see, there are numerous opportunities to engage and better service your guests in the pre-arrival stage by leveraging conversational AI.
During their stay at your hotel, all your efforts should be focused on one thing - guest experience. An exceptional experience is the one thing that can impress your guests and make them want to come back.
Your work in this area starts with your guests’ arrival and check in which should be as painless as possible. With automated messaging, you can notify guests about mobile check-in and mobile key options (if available) so they can escape any wait time at the front desk.
When they’re all settled in, your guests will be more receptive to any offers, especially if they are personalized for them based on the data on their recent activities and requests. Sending timely offers that can enhance your guests’ stay is essential for positively impacting revenue.
There are numerous examples of upselling (e.g. upgrading their choice of room) and cross-selling (selling ancillary products or services) and an automated messaging platform enables you to send these offers directly to your guests’ phones. For example, you can:
Everyone in the hotel business knows that food and beverage operations can really drive profits. That’s why it’s important to encourage guests to spend on F&B. You need to ensure that you are presenting them with as many options as possible and then make it easy for them to order, wherever they are on the property.
So, how exactly do you bring in more hotel food and beverage sales?
With hotel messaging, your guests can conveniently order via text and pay instantly with enabled cashless payments processing.
Drinks by the pool or snack at the bar, happy hour specials, special occasion menus, meal of the day offers, or meals that cater to dietary restrictions (e.g. gluten-free options), all of this can be available to your guests through a familiar chat interface or sent at the right time as a special offer. Easier discoverability of relevant F&B offers, convenience of text ordering and cashless payments, these are all drivers for increased customer spend on food and beverage.
An automated messaging platform cannot exist as a disconnected piece of technology - it is deeply integrated into hotel’s PMS and other systems. This way, service requests automatically go to the relevant departments and staff that deliver those services. With proper integrations in place, messaging eliminates several steps in the guest service process and makes hotels more responsive to guest requests.
So, for example, a guest can make a housekeeping request by sending a quick message and the appropriate team will be immediately notified and ready to respond. Or they can ask for fresh towels or linens, bottled water, flowers for their room, or anything else that your hotel can provide.
Do you have efficient communication with your guests after they´ve left? Even if you enable smooth check out experience, do you have the time and resources to collect precious guest feedback? This is key to helping you improve your operations and the overall guest experience.
With a hotel messaging platform, you can automate the process of gathering guest feedback; you can also send a link to Tripadvisor giving them an option to leave their review. By adding a touch of personalization to these messages, you’ll demonstrate that your hotel genuinely cares about their experience.
It’s nice that your guests know that they can get quick answers from your hotel after their stay. Maybe they forgot something in their room and want to ask you to check. Compared to static emails or calls to the front desk, a messaging platform truly helps you close the communication gap that often exists between hotels and guests after their stay is over.
A hotel messaging platform can help you enhance all aspects of your guests’ stay, from post-reservation communication to the final check out. It is a useful, easy-to-use tool for guests and another channel for your hotel to add value and better communicate, understand, and sell to your guests. The positive impact this technology has on guest experience directly translates into a positive impact on hotel revenue.