Getting a guest text & mobile engagement model to work right for your hotel is more than simply making available an additional medium for guests to connect with you. Benbria Corporation provides 15 best practices for text & mobile engagement success.
1. Give guests a convenient omnichannel experience. Texting is just the start for the most forward-thinking hotels. Effective mobile guest engagement not only captures text messages from guests, but also communications via web chat, native apps, kiosks and email in one seamlessly integrated platform. Hotels can choose to start with texting first, but be sure that your selected vendor can help you scale to other channels so that you can continue to optimize guest communications and satisfaction.
2. Achieve the highest ROI with a robust feature set. Thought-leading text & mobile engagement solutions provide an array of complimentary features that will facilitate your interactions with guests. Some features include: internal staff chat that ensures more effective team collaboration; guest’s ability to append photos to further communicate their needs; context sensitive auto response that ensure a timely response to guests; staff’s ability to text & chat on-behalf-of guests; ratings and social sharing features to help drive more and better online reviews; and cross-media guest message inbox to track and manage guest communications from texting, web chat, email and kiosks.
3. Streamline communications through automation. When implementing a text & mobile guest engagement strategy, automation will not only help save time and costs, but also further enhance the guest experience. Best-in-class solutions provide the following automated capabilities: timed messages to ensure efficient management of guest communications; auto-escalations to staff, departments and off-site service desk; reservation notifications; and bulk & targeted invites to better connect with guests during their journey.
4. Advanced auto-routing improves operational efficiencies. An ideal text & mobile engagement solution must support the channeling, control, tracking and security of guest conversations via an advanced routing infrastructure. Comprehensive operational workflows ensure guests’ input – based on location, sentiment, contact preferences, and subject (request, compliment, complaint, etc.) – reaches the right hotel staff for action, tracking and advanced reporting.
5. Natural language analytics improves operations. Communications via text and other channels is only half the equation. Natural language analytics help hoteliers to improve operations by taking even greater advantage of the detailed two-way dialogue captured from guests and hotel staff. This lets management monitor trends, dips in performance and successes in real-time.
6. Operate better hotels with real-time reports. Leverage real-time guest dialog, data and insights to improve operations. Analytics provide hour-by-hour granularity of operational strength & weakness helping hoteliers to improve staff performance, measure threats to satisfaction, time-to-close, and positive or negative comments on the guest experience. Hierarchal rreports are scaled from a property view to a regional view allowing executive management to make smarter and faster decisions.
7. Personalize the guest experience through systems integration. Integrating text & mobile engagement into loyalty programs, service-order and property-management systems will help to streamline and personalize guest communications. The ideal text & mobile engagement system identifies guests, either by recognizing SMS or email from a previous engagement, or by looking up a guest in a hotel’s database (e.g. via integration with a PMS or CRM system). Seamless integration not only helps to manage the communications process more efficiently, but also helps to identify loyalty members to build trust.
8. Secure cloud hosting services. Privacy and security are two increasingly important factors in today’s electronic world. Best-in-class guest text & mobile engagement solutions offer a seamless and secure channel for communication and collaboration. Select a vendor that offers secure access control and authorization by role and subscription. Ensuring secure user connections via HTTPS and equal level of backend security enables hoteliers to communicate securely via mobile phone, tablet, or computer. Ensure that your system provides “four nines” service availability. This design requires your system to be available 99.99% of the intended operational time when measured across a calendar year.
9. Ensure success with proven customer success management. Text & mobile engagement is not a “set it and forget it” mind-set. Launching and managing an effective guest engagement strategy requires a vendor partnership with a proven customer success management program that leverages deployment and management processes to measure the health of your operations. An experienced customer success team that will help you define clear metrics for success such as improving TripAdvisor reviews, reducing comps, capturing quality guest feedback and improving guest satisfaction scores.
10. Pre-empt negative reviews. Text & mobile engagement solutions allow hotels to connect with guests privately to resolve issues before they reach social media. Real-time action helps hotels pre-empt negative experiences and reviews. Effective text & mobile engagement solutions takes it one step further by helping hotels to digitally prompt guests to draw out positive reviews. With these tools and processes in place, each problem solved improves the guest experience and provides a new opportunity to solicit a TripAdvisor review. As the principle of reciprocity suggests, guests are more likely to respond to your request to post a positive review on TripAdvisor at a time when they are delighted by an exceptional experience at your hotel.
11. Engage guests throughout their journeys. Text & mobile engagement isn’t just useful for guests while they are staying with the hotel. Prior to arrivals, for example, hotels can use texting to promote their loyalty rewards programs, ensure that guests take advantage of the best available rate, and to promote other offers, compensation and contests. When guests leave, hotels can close the loop on any outstanding concerns or opportunities, such as sorting out any trouble they may have had with their bills, forwarding forgotten or lost items, and making sure they receive proper credit on their loyalty rewards program accounts.
12. Promote via a variety of channels.
Multi-channel guest communication at hotels is new and requires education both to staff and guests. Getting the proper messaging in the right locations, combined with the proper staff training is key to the overall success of your multi-channel guest communication strategy. Best of breed vendors will provide proven templates and captivating signage to post in prominent locations on the property as an effective way of attracting guests to initiate conversations with the hotel. Messaging and instructions may include a SMS texting number, URL, QR code, NFC chip, or email.
13. Motivate staff to improve guest satisfaction. Studies have shown that motivated and engaged staff have a direct and positive impact on the guest experience. No other group of people within the hotel environment are more influential in shaping the experience of the guest. Management needs to be in the loop so that adequate transparency can yield behavioral change and training opportunities. Giving management direct insight into the guest experience empowers them to improve employee performance and create an amazing experience for each guest as a team.
14. Drive real-time action and resolution.
Text & mobile engagement empowers hotel staff to take responsibility for the guest experience. Staff members are notified when a guest asks for help. They are armed with tools and insights that can help them solve issues in real time, before the guest checks out. Responding to guests immediately is critical. Late or absent responses are worse than not having a text engagement system at all. In addition to centralizing guest feedback and requests in one inbox, an ideal text system will have auto-escalation capabilities to ensure guests’ requests and concerns are responded to in a timely fashion and never missed.
15. Find a trusted partner. Finding a text & mobile guest engagement vendor that has a secure, intuitive platform driven by industry best practices is not always easy. Make sure you do adequate research to find the right vendor who meets your needs. Aside from exploring the vendor’s mobile platform capabilities, ask for case studies, client testimonials, and details regarding their client assistance services. The right vendor won’t just help you launch a text & mobile engagement system; they will assist in executing a successful mobile strategy to ensure you achieve your objectives.