Hotels that deliver world-class customer service start with their staff; and excellent staff need to be excellent communicators. However, it can’t stop there. The systems with which these great communicators work must be designed to promote communication. In other words, in order for your hotel staff to be fantastic, there needs to be a system in place. Your highly-trained staff won’t be able to look after your guests to the best of their ability if they don’t have the technology and the resources on hand to properly do so; just as a top of the line communication system would be worthless when staffed by people who don’t communicate well.
Communicating that extra mile
The ability of your hotel staff to work as a team, and anticipate the needs of your guests, will be hampered by their inability to easily and effectively communicate amongst themselves, as well as with the guests.
Picture this: a guest pulls a muscle whilst working out in the hotel gym. One of the hotel personal trainers recognises the injury and recommends a massage. With an efficient communication system in place, the hotel spa massage therapist would know about the guest’s problem before they even meet, thanks to the personal trainer filling them in on the details of the injury. And to take it a step further, when the guest goes to bed at the end of the day, the housekeeping staff will have been able to substitute fresh, firm pillows for him to better support his injury on the recommendation of the massage therapist.
Open lines of communication between hotel staff and hotel guests can create an amazing customer experience. And as more and more communication takes place exclusively online and on mobile devices, hotels need to look to the mediums of digital communication in order to keep providing outstanding service.
Digital hotel communication
Your average hotel guest, in fact your average human, is never too far away from some type of mobile device. Therefore including different forms of digital communication for your guests will be vital in order to provide a full service. This could include hotel apps, SMS-messaging or communication via social media channels or WhatsApp. Providing the option to communicate via one or all of these channels is a sure-fire way to create better lines of communication with your guests.
Despite the massive growth in social media, texting still remains the favoured form of digital communication. And this is not just for teenagers and millennials, according to a Global Business Travel Association survey published in 2014. The survey points out that corporate traveller managers said that their customers preferred customisable two-way communication via mobile devices over other types of communication, when available.
Hotel Apps and Mobile Messaging:
Hotel Apps that utilise this preference for SMS-type forms of communication are being used by hotel chains such as the Marriott and Starwood. Increasing communication with guests will translate directly into more revenue per room or repeat bookings. This could come in the form of SMS campaigns, room-service reminders, or promotional prompts that can be redeemed with the tap of an app.
With two way SMS communication guests are able to text a request to the hotel instead of having to call, to ask for more towels, room service or other services and amenities.
A new breed of apps is being developed to provide these sorts of additional services at not only a single property, but throughout entire hotel chains. Chains such as Gansevoort Hotel Group and Standard Hotels have incorporated mobile messaging technology in the form of service-on-demand application called ALICE. The platform enables hotel guests to request services and amenities from their smartphones, wherever they are in the hotel. With a real time mobile connection, guests are in control of their stay like never before. ALICE has been shown to be especially popular for guests to access whilst at the beach or at the pool, viewing menus and ordering food and drinks without having to grab the attention of hotel staff.
Alex Furrer, General Manager of The Setai, Miami Beach said “Our guests use their mobile phones for everything these days, so providing this option to engage with us is the ultimate luxury experience. With ALICE we have given our guests the choice to communicate with us on their terms”
Earlier this year, the Hyatt hotel chain selected leading mobile messaging service Zingle to help better connect with their guests. The platform’s multi-channel messaging service allows guests to instantly and seamlessly text and message hotel staff before, during, and after their stay.
Jeff Bzdawka, Senior Vice President, Global Hotel Operations at Hyatt said “Zingle offers Hyatt hotels the ability to instantaneously build one-on-one relationships in ways our guests want to engage.”
Glowing.io is another cloud based solution that enables hotels and their guests to message each other in whatever mobile messaging platform (ex: SMS, WhatsApp, WeChat, etc.), AND in whatever language each guest prefers. For hotel guests, Glowing.io enables in-the-moment communication with the hotel wherever, whenever the guests need, in the messaging platform and language each guest is most comfortable with. For hotels, they can communicate with their guests in-the-moment to deliver more personalized, distinguishable guest experiences, as well as recover from a poor experience before the guest posts to social media (such as TripAdvisor or Twitter).
If implemented properly, messaging apps have the potential not only to transform customer service, but also to deliver operational efficiencies that could save money in the long run. However we must not forget that it still requires well-trained and attentive hotel staff to complete the link to create a fantastic customer experience for your guests. In other words, hotel technology is most effective when implemented to support fantastic hotel staff, not replace them.