The hospitality industry is, by nature, a very human business. Whether you’re in hotel and lodging, travel and transportation, food and beverage, or recreation, hospitality is all about creating a unique and personal experience for your guests. Have you considered how technology like SMS hospitality messaging can actually make guest experiences more personalized?
While technology has changed the game, it can sometimes feel antithetical to the warmth the hospitality industry is beloved for. However, when messaging tech is used correctly, it helps you do what the hospitality industry has always done best: Make human connections.
SMS hospitality messaging connects you to guests on their terms.
It’s exactly for this reason that messaging can help transform the customer experience by giving service providers a way to connect and engage with guests in an easy, convenient, and preferred way.
There are major opportunities to leverage SMS hospitality messaging in a way that doesn’t detract from the human connection—but adds to it. Messaging liberates guests from standing in line, waiting for an email, or sitting on hold.
In this article, we’ll explore how you can use SMS hospitality messaging to connect with customers and personalize the industry.
High tech and high touch.
Providing a memorable guest experience is part physical and observable. What thread count are the sheets? What’s the ambiance of the restaurant (do they have table cloths and sommeliers or barstools and air hockey)?
The intangibles are just as important to the overall experience—the care and attention of the staff, the ease of changing bookings, how payments are handled, etc. These smaller details are often your differentiators and play a big factor in how you make your customers feel.
SMS messaging can make all the difference. Instead of forcing customers to stand in lines, wait on hold, or hunt down information on in-room pamphlets, you can bring the service to them.
In fact, guests now expect it as a standard part of their hospitality experience.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused major disruption in the hospitality industry.
While travel is starting to return to 2019 levels (along with occupancy rates and room revenue, according to Accenture), it has permanently influenced customer expectations.
There are fewer business travelers, more local vacationers—and more digital nomads. This is reshaping the hospitality industry in everything from loyalty programs and digital amenities to a demand for SMS booking.
And customer service has only increased in importance.
Accenture’s Life Reimagined report says 53% of consumers think customer service has become more important than price—and 54% of consumers believe it will continue to be so over the next 12 months.
Transparency, clarity, and simplicity have become top decision drivers. More than half of customers who have reimagined life due to the pandemic say they would switch brands if the brand doesn’t create clear and easy options for contacting customer service, according to Accenture’s report.
For hospitality, text messaging is a natural step toward delivering high-touch experiences. Customers are already using their mobile devices to find fun things to do (70%), research destinations (66%), and book transportation or airfare (46%).
With so much emphasis already placed on mobile, a move to messaging is a natural and organic option that customers are likely already looking to do. Continuing to use customers’ mobile devices throughout their stay just makes sense.
In fact, messaging can enhance the customer’s experience across the entire guest journey.
Tap into the power of SMS hospitality messaging.
Messaging allows you to connect and engage with guests in a way that is already an important part of how they communicate daily.
SMS text messaging upgrades your customer communications with more than simple text conversations. Rich messaging brings the hospitality experience to your guests long before they reach your doorstep. With rich messaging, you can:
- Process secure transactions, from SMS booking for hotel rooms and excursions to in-room upgrades and payments.
- Send reservation reminders, confirmations, and up-to-the-minute notices.
- Increase guest excitement with content like images, GIFs, videos, and more.
Easy ways to start using SMS/texting in hospitality.
Getting started with hospitality text messaging may seem overwhelming at first, but there are many ways to introduce it into your existing customer journeys.
Here are some examples of ways you can use SMS hospitality messaging to elevate experiences in hotels, restaurants, and recreational activities.
SMS for hotels.
1. Answer pre-booking questions. While your website is a great booking tool, nothing beats one-on-one conversations. Your guests may have simple questions about things like early check-in or room preferences. Messaging helps you address these questions quickly and secure the booking right from your customers’ text messages.
2. Use SMS booking. Schedule stays and process payments right from SMS/text messaging using rich messaging features. Your guests can book their trip right from their phones without ever having to make a phone call or wait on hold.
3. Get guests excited about their stay. Your guest experience begins before they even arrive. Build the anticipation with a welcome message, semi-personalized itineraries, and local sites and events.
If you know guests are there with children, send them itineraries that include amusement parks, a trip to the local zoo, or some family-friendly live shows. For couples on a romantic getaway, suggest date night ideas, local spas, or more secluded beaches.
Sending a text message with these personalized touches will go a long way to build excitement and make guests feel welcomed.
4. Streamline the check-in process. While we love vacations, traveling to get to them is another story. And it’s only gotten worse in the last few years with travel restrictions, fewer flights, and more crowds.
When travelers finally reach their destination, they’re tired, frustrated, and likely want as little interaction as possible before reaching their beds. (In other words, they’re 3 of Snow White’s 7 dwarves: Grumpy, Sleepy, and Bashful.)
Have guests complete the check-in process through SMS messaging so that all they have to do when they get to their destination is pick up their key. Digital keys are also becoming more popular and complete the contactless check-in experience.
5. Handle in-room requests. Instead of forcing guests to decide between the front desk, guest services, maid services, and other departments on the hotel phone (not to mention waiting on hold), centralize in-room requests via SMS/text messaging.
Quiq’s clients, including those within the hospitality segment, have found that servicing customers via messaging has reduced service costs and work time and increased customer satisfaction scores by 5–10 points.
6. Close out stays with a bang. Offer a contactless checkout, removing the last bit of friction guests face as they leave your hotel. Plus, give them one final reminder of the excellent service and attention they received with a thank you message.
7. Ask for reviews. If you’ve given the guest a memorable experience, they may be enticed to share it with others and become your brand ambassador.
Today, reviews are a critical part of the buyers’ process, and word of mouth can build or block that path to purchase.
Not only is this a great opportunity to instantly address any negative feedback, but you can also send exclusive offers and discounts to encourage guests to come back.
You can also encourage guests to share their positive comments about your business with their social networks.
SMS for restaurants.
1. Accept reservations. Use rich messaging features to schedule reservations right from your guests’ mobile phones.
2. Send reservation reminders. Help customers remember the reservation they made (especially if you’re booked out for weeks) with a friendly reservation reminder.
A text message won’t get lost in junk mail, and you’ll decrease no-shows. SMS hospitality messaging to the rescue!
3. Enable easy cancellations and rescheduling. Instead of holding a table for no-shows and missing out on potential revenue, give guests an easy way to cancel or reschedule their reservation ahead of time.
They’ll be happy with the streamlined customer experience, and you’ll be able to fill those seats with last-minute reservations and walk-ins.
4. Provide directions and parking information. Sure, everyone has Apple Maps or Waze, but parking can be a beast if you live in a high-tourism city. Add a link for directions and parking information to your appointment reminder to ensure your guests make it to your restaurant.
5. Streamline take-out orders. Take-out has grown in popularity over the last few years. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, even fine-dining restaurants have jumped in on the action.
54% of adults say purchasing takeout or delivery food is essential to the way they live, including 72% of millennials and 66% of Gen Z adults, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry report.
Use SMS/text messaging to confirm you’ve received an order, that it’s ready for pickup, or that it’s out for delivery.
6. Ask for reviews. Restaurants live and die by their online reviews. Encourage guests to leave feedback on a popular review site and offer them an incentive.
If you’d rather collect feedback directly, send them a link to a survey and be sure to answer any questions and address concerns quickly.
7. Get the opt-in. SMS marketing is a great way to connect with customers, and the open rate for text messages often far exceeds that of email.
Ask for permission to send marketing messages, then craft a strategy that personalizes offers and earns repeat business.
SMS for recreational activities.
1. Book through text messaging. Rich text messaging is a simple way to answer questions, book a reservation, and securely collect payments all in one place.
2. Take special requests. SMS/text messaging is a convenient and private way for guests to ask about special accommodations like wheelchair accessibility, assistance for people who are hard of hearing, or private tours.
3. Send links to helpful information. Don’t send guests hunting for information on your website. Send them links to details, like what type of attire participants should wear, dos and don’ts, parking information, and more.
4. Send reminders. Email reminders get lost in all the itinerary bookings (and junk email) your customers are likely dealing with. Send reservation reminders and any up-to-the-minute notifications via text messaging.
5. Suggest their next adventure. SMS messaging is a great marketing tool for small business operators, like tour guides, but it’s also easy to scale for larger operations. Once your guests have finished their activity, use text messaging to suggest their next adventure.
If they took a ghost tour of downtown, offer suggestions to other haunted hotspots. If they went on a guided hike, suggest kayaking or another outdoor activity. Personalize messages and include timely discounts to increase the next booking.
Disrupt with SMS hospitality messaging or be disrupted.
The time for hospitality text messaging is here. There’s endless opportunity for hotels, resorts, restaurants, and others within the hospitality segment to simplify and personalize the customer experience.
With new expectations born from the pandemic and an ever-increasing number of millennial and Gen Z travelers, it’s even more critical for the hospitality industry to embrace text messaging.
At Quiq, we help companies in the hospitality industry (and others) engage with guests in personal and meaningful ways. Our Conversational AI Platform makes it easy for customers to connect with your business, so you can provide the information they want in the way they want to receive it.
Connect with customers—and let them connect with you—using Quiq.