There are many ways in which hotels can communicate with their would-be guests, thanks to the technology available in our 21st century, always-connected world.We still have the traditional telephone and mail options, but email and social media sites including Facebook and Twitter have added to the mix and made it easier than ever for people to drop a line to their potential accommodation provider – and hopefully get the answers they require.
However, one method of communication that is becoming ever more popular is live chat. This is basically an instant messaging service that is assigned to your website to connect potential customers with your customer service representatives in real time.How live chat works Messages can be typed in a designated box and the text will pop up on the PC, smartphone, tablet or any other device your member of staff happens to be using along with an alert that allows them to see and respond to the message.The service can be accessed only when website users click on the box, or it can pop up to prompt them after they visit a certain page and check if they need any help they might ont have realisedthey could ask for.
Essentially, live chat is a virtual concierge who waits dutifully on reception to open the door for would-be guests and answer their queries seamlessly. Benefits of live chat There are numerous advantages of offering live chat capabilities, starting with speed and convenience. Consumers today have much less patience for waiting than their counterparts one or two generations ago; they want instant answers to their queries and issues. Live chat facilitates this by providing real-time information, an improvement on the few hours’ wait offered by email or even Twitter.
Another good point is that live chat can be a good option for would-be guests who might not be confident about picking up the phone and speaking to someone on a hotel reception. Live chat is non-invasive and anonymous, making it perfect for the shyer people among your audience.Even with the best will in the world, hotel websites can’t provide all of the information guests might need – there is bound to be someone who has a very obscure question that you hadn’t even thought of addressing.For instance, a would-be guest can find out whether a room is quiet enough for his or her needs via live chat, something that probably wouldn’t be possible using the written content and photos on their website. It isn’t just hotel customers who can reap the rewards of live chat, though. Hotel owners and marketers can save on their customer service budgets because reps can answer more than one live chat dialogue box at a time, meaning they are likely to need fewer people manning the phones.There is also the potential for offering more services or upsells during the live chat conversations you have with guests.
For instance, if someone gets in touch to ask one question, you could mention that you currently have a special offer that might suit their needs. Remember not to bombard them with overly-salesy messages though – the whole point is to be unobtrusive. Finally, live chat can be hugely useful in reducing the abandonment of bookings, something many hotels have a problem with despite their best efforts. If you ensure you have a chat dialogue box easily available on your hotel booking engine’s pages, people can ask a question should they get stuck – and then they are more likely to complete the booking process as opposed to ditching the whole thing and going to one of your competitors. Positive results from live chatMany hotels are already making the most of live chat and the statistics show that it has been worth it for them. A recent ATG Global Consumer Trend study found that 63 per cent of people would be likely to return to a website that has live chat, while 62 per cent are more likely to make a purchase on a site that has live customer support available.There are lots of different software options available that will allow your hotel to offer live chat, no matter what your budget or how small your property – a quick online search will show you several popular brands that provide the service. What’s more, the figures above suggest a reasonable investment should pay for itself in terms of increased customer satisfaction and consequently boosted bookings within a reasonable amount of time.
Hotel guests and those browsing for accommodation options will always have questions, so don’t assume your written content and images will be able to answer them all. Instead, offer them a quick and convenient way of getting those questions answered and see if you can improve your bottom line as a result.