Tech

Understanding Digitization in the Hospitality Industry

Gallivant Africa

As 2022 kicks off, guest expectations are skyrocketing while hospitality teams operate at all-time low capacities. Front desk teams across all service levels and geographies are increasingly adopting guest messaging: connecting digitally with guests via text or online channels to answer common questions, address maintenance requests, and run contactless check-ins. Studies are showing that hotel brands using guest messaging have higher satisfaction ratings, increased bookings, and higher team efficiency.

Here’s a rundown.

Guest messaging, in its simplest form, is digital messaging between customers and businesses. It may take the form of a text message or via channels such as Facebook Messenger to answer a common question, welcome a guest, or address a maintenance request.

From a hospitality side, teams can manage multiple channels and send messages to guests from one platform rather than field a dozen calls, or deal with a growing line at the front desk. From a guest perspective, it offers contactless check-in, answers to questions, and ease of access.

The guest messaging trend has grown significantly during the pandemic. Not only does it span the full spectrum of hotel service levels from luxury to economy, but it’s showing up in other service-driven industries such as airports, shopping centers, and the healthcare industry.

What does it look like?

Most often, guest messaging takes the form of a desktop platform for businesses to message customers and respond to requests. From there, teams can set up pre-programmed messages for common questions, create flows for check-ins, and address maintenance issues by connecting internally with staff.

The top messaging solutions offer a variety of channels that help to meet guests on their preferred channels. Google Business Messaging (GBM) and Apple Business Chat (ABC) help consumers find business before booking; SMS is good for in-stay and in-the-moment communication, and WhatsApp is increasingly popular for international guests. Team should also look for a solution that can offer PMS integrations with hotel management systems such as Quore, Opera, and Onq, increasing efficiency by notifying backup teams and managers when messages go unseen.

An increasingly digital world

It goes without saying that the world was turned upside down by the pandemic —mass understaffing in service industries, social distancing, lockdowns — but one of the most noticeable changes was an increase in digitization.

study conducted by the University of Zurich in Switzerland observed a “vast increase in digital communication” related to the COVID-19 pandemic, with 46% of study participants using text messaging more often. Consumers are attached more-than-ever to their mobile devices, and guest messaging is a way for the hospitality industry to keep up.

In fact, an article from Campaign Monitor states that open rates from SMS messaging are as high as 98%, compared to 20% for emails. This makes text messaging an increasingly popular way to connect with guests.

Precautions to stay safe are also still at the forefront of a user experience in hospitality, and guest messaging allows consumers to converse with hoteliers in a contactless manner — no trips to the front desk or waiting in line to check in or out.

Another reason why hospitality teams might utilize guest messaging is the access to a guest’s opinion before they review their stay. For instance, if there’s a maintenance issue during their stint at a property, guests can reach out directly to the front desk, who can then connect with their staff internally and address the issue before the guest leaves a bad Tripadvisor review complaining about a leaky toilet.

Does it make a difference?

Data from top hotel brands shows that guest messaging is here to stay.

Groups like Driftwood Hotels show an increase in overall satisfaction across properties, higher 5 star reviews on sites like Tripadvisor, and lower negative reviews. Using digital messaging also reportedly increases efficiency on understaffed teams and helps to automate processes and increase bookings.

Gallivant Africa
Gallivant Africa hosts junior journalists and intern travel writers to share their stories and experiences with our audience. Read their stories and help them grow into leaders of the industry.

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