SMS (or Short Message Service) is, in internet terms, an ancient system of communication. The first SMS message saying simply “Merry Christmas” was sent in 1992.
Today, there is a plethora of newer and, some would say, better messaging apps that many believe have rendered SMS outdated and obsolete.
In truth, the use of SMS within the hospitality sector still enjoys a vast open rate of 94 per cent plus. Better still, these messages are read within three to five minutes.
The rapid switch to smartphones and mobile technology has offered a resurgence for SMS in business.
Every research report available confirms that communication with customers/guests is paramount to success within the hospitality industry and the use of SMS systems offers that immediate interaction opportunity.
Compared to email, with open rates below 20 per cent, SMS offers a viable alternative for various forms of guest communication.
Customer Service Communication
I am stating the obvious, obviously! Customer service communication is paramount for any hospitality business. Some examples of SMS to support Customer Service communication include:
Booking Confirmation Message
- This, of course, will require permission-based acceptance and provision of a telephone number at the time of booking.
- Note: You must always offer an opt-out option
- Not only excellent communication but also the ability to remove repetitive calls asking the same check-in or check out questions via reception.
- Reminders also provide the opportunity to include further information options described below.
- Fast check-out information can also significantly decrease waiting times at reception and provide a more extraordinary user experience, ultimately leading to more positive reviews.
- Menus/Times/Housekeeping requests all provide added customer experience.
- Not all negative but generically an ideal option to keep guests informed of any issues arising during their stay.
The ability to ask questions
- Interaction with frequently asked questions or posting specific questions or requests
Things to do
- Both for promoting in-resort events and promotions and for external near-resort places to visit, local events and more.
- Consider an SMS offer to upgrade to a VIP club.
Post-visit follow-up contact/reviews
- A critical communication factor is the ability to head off any negative feedback and promote positive reviews and feedback
- SMS messaging can lead to guests telling you their problems instead of promoting such negativity on Social Media!
- Providing an excellent Customer Service Communication platform should also lead to more positive reviews – the lifeblood of future bookings and re-bookings.
I am still amazed today that many hotels and resorts fail to promote what should be an ideal upsell asset – their restaurant or dining experience on-site.
SMS can nudge guests to book and experience in-house dining BEFORE arrival, on arrival and during their stay.
Options can include:
View and select from the menu before arrival
- With special promotions/discounts
- Daily specials and theme nights
- One-touch booking/availability confirmation
Directions and special instructions
- Click through for video introductions and images
Using SMS to keep staff updated with rotas, alerts and upcoming events and details of promotions.
Although we have discussed the guest experience, SMS also works for the supply chain, food and drink deliveries, laundry and housekeeping, etc.
SMS Messaging Do’s and Don’t!
- You must have a booking confirmation SMS option for enquiries and bookings.
- Automate messaging to provide contactless check-in and check-out information
- Ask for reviews!
- Be personal
- Always ask for permission, never send without confirmation.
- Do not sell guest information to 3rd parties
- Only text helpful information.
IHS Provider Use of a Messaging System
Inside Hospitality Solutions Provider, Mobius Vendor Partners distributes their software cloud-based survey solution via their platform, CustomerCount.
In addition to SMS technology, CustomerCount can also offer integration with WhatsApp Messenger.
“This is a game-changer,” said Bob Kobek, President. “WhatsApp is all about secure, seamless communications for international visitors to the US and US visitors traveling out of the country. WhatsApp gives resorts, timeshares, and hotels the confidence that users on both sides of the message understand.”
CustomerCount is the only feedback system with access to WhatsApp’s production capabilities.
Vacation Ownership Industry – Using a messaging system
SPI Software provides software systems and resort management solutions for timeshare resort developers and operators.
They recently announced the provision of a new text messaging functionality facility with SPI Connect.
The new technology will allow visitors to communicate with resorts by sending and receiving text messages from initial reservations to guest stay and post-stay interactions.
SPI commented: “This uniquely personalized communications platform is what guests want. Its implementation will greatly improve customer service and satisfaction scores, greatly enhancing the vacation experience for each customer. Today, texting is the preferred means of communication from most owners,”
The IHS team would like to know your experience with SMS and messaging systems within the hospitality sector. Send us your thoughts, experiences and articles, and we will publish them here on the IHS website. Just complete the contact form and get in touch.
Source: Written by John Heffernan, Red Live Media