Texting is hugely popular – even more so than making phone calls most of the time. By sending a text, someone is able to focus on multiple tasks at once, rather than a phone call, which means they need to focus on that one task. With this in mind, many hotels have now started to take advantage of the power of text messaging, rather than just offering telephone and email as forms of communication.
According to Matthew Carroll, vice president of Marriott Hotels, 75 per cent of travellers have one or more mobile devices, and this number is increased when it comes to young people. Since the Millennial generation makes up about a third of hotel guests worldwide, according to eHotelier, the trend of text messaging is certainly one that hotels need to get involved in. You may well be thinking that your hotel has an app that offers a service that is similar to that of text messages, but don’t forget that not everyone will have opted to download your app. In addition, even those that have it may not remember to use it, or find it as simple to navigate as sending a text.
Text messaging is something that anyone with a mobile phone is able to do with relative ease, so it really is important. If you’re wondering if using a text messaging service really works, well why not look at the top brand name hotels that have already seen success from this method?
The Four Seasons
In 2014, Four Seasons hotel piloted a text messaging service at four of its hotels. According to USA Today, this trial guaranteed a response within four minutes, and allowed guests to make any request – from NFL tickets to dinner reservations. The aim of the trial was to focus on giving a guest’s request immediate attention – whatever it involved.
Marriott used a similar strategy to Four Seasons, wanting to decrease the amount of time that guests had to spend making enquiries. According to their research, reducing the time that it took to fulfill customer requests heavily affected their happiness.
Aloft used a different strategy when it came to implementing text messaging to their marketing activity. They found that their main customer base was a much younger audience, therefore they took advantage of this when creating their text messaging strategy. They introduced an emoji-based room service, which they named Text It, Get It. This offered different packages to guests, such as the Sightseer, which includes a metro card and drinks. Or, The Hangover, which includes Vitaminwater, Advil and bananas. While this strategy was extremely successful for Aloft, this was due to it having a customer base made up of mostly Millennials.
It’s important that each hotel knows and understands their audience, and a family hotel, for example, would be unlikely to see any success from this type of model.
How can you begin?
So, how could you begin to implement text messaging as part of your marketing strategy? Well, you could start with offering pre-arrival information. If you take a customer’s mobile number when they make their booking, you can then text them the day before they arrive to remind them of their check-in time, daily specials, and other important information. This also provides the opportunity for guests to ask additional questions, such as where they might find parking, information about local attractions or events and recommended food and drink options nearby.
Another great way to use text messaging is to offer a 24/7 concierge service. This way, instead of guests having to phone through to reception, you can have one person dedicated to responding as quickly as possible to all text message requests. Not only does this potentially offer a much speedier service to guests, but it also frees up your receptionist and your phone line for enquiries from potential visitors and those checking in. As well as pre-arrival messages, you can also send a message to guests prior to their departure. You can confirm the time they need to check out by, and also offer additional services, such as booking to leave their luggage for the day, or a taxi service to wherever they may be heading next.
These small touches can really add value to your guests, as well as making it much easier for your hotel staff. Instead of the reception desk being inundated with requests when everyone is trying to check out at the same time, the majority of these could have been arranged in advance – making the entire process much simpler for both staff and guests. In an age that is heavily dependent on mobile, even these small steps can make a huge difference to your hotel’s success.