As borders are opening and closing and different COVID-measures are applied in different regions, guests have more questions than ever. Hoteliers should respond with clear and transparent communication, assisting the guests in their travel planning. Read here how you can set up a successful guest communication strategy, adapted to these times.
Why is guest communication so important?
Easy communication between hotel staff and guests is essential, as guests are facing more uncertainties when planning their next trip. Hotels, on the other hand, have had to adapt some of their services due to more limited resources. Setting up the right channels and providing information at the right time allows you to exceed guest expectations and create trust between you and your guests.
What to keep in mind when setting up a guest communication strategy?
1. Invest in new channels
In 2020, the number of phone users who used messaging apps to communicate increased by almost 14 percent compared to the previous year, due to the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Hoteliers need to start leveraging these new channels to communicate with their guests. It’s where they feel most comfortable and are most present, essential for an effective guest communication strategy.
Keep also in mind that different markets prefer different channels. WhatsApp is globally the biggest favorite, but in China, they will use WeChat instead. Also, think about the age group of your audience: younger generations prefer channels like Instagram, while older generations use more Facebook.
2. Be proactive
Now is the time to be proactive and anticipate the needs of your guests. Travelers want more than ever to relax and enjoy a moment away, however, the constantly changing regulations are making travel stressful. And with the current staffing problems in hospitality, it seems like a challenge for hoteliers to still wow their guests. However, by setting the right expectations, you can still delight and surprise your guests.
For example, if you cannot open your restaurant, offer daily housekeeping, or you need to close your bar earlier, then you need to communicate this to your guests pre-arrival or upon arrival to avoid disappointment.
3. Be efficient
As we are all dealing with fewer resources, increasing efficiency is a priority for many hoteliers. Technology can support you here. Leverage automation tools to automate outgoing communication, so you only need to set it up once and forget about it. A hotel chatbot can then help you to automate the response to most of your incoming questions.
However, you can also choose to leverage AI to speed up your agent’s response. A pre-empted response will be triggered based on the intent of the guest, which will be detected by the AI. This will not only help you to provide faster support, but also ensure that your communication is consistent across your organization.
4. Back up communication with operations
What we cannot forget is that hotels should not communicate with guests out of marketing interests only, but use it to improve the guest experience. Any guest communication strategy needs to be supported by operations. Implement a case management system to make sure every department gets alerted when a request or complaint comes in via one of the messaging channels, so they can take immediate action. A quick and professional approach to issues can turn your complaining guests into loyal ones and prevent negative reviews.
5. Take a step-by-step approach
Do not rush into any change if you are not ready for it. A bad implementation can cause friction for both staff and guests. Take a step-by-step approach and go on to implement the strategy in one establishment first, so you can work out any hick-ups you might identify before implementing it in all establishments. This also allows you to share results with the other properties, to encourage quick adoption.
As communication has become easier with the use of mobile phones, and our need for instant information is growing thanks to the use of search engines, the need for instant and clear communication has become greater as well. Guest communication is also a great vehicle for hoteliers to improve the guest experience, even before the guest has set foot on property. But like with all things, a solid strategy is key for success.
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