In a recent study performed by Gartner, it was projected that ”2.19 billion consumers will use consumer messaging apps by 2019.”
It goes without saying that messaging apps hold considerable value. Since the mid-2000’s the opportunity to connect with guests on a range of digital channels has grown substantially, proving to be more than just a consideration for today but rather a must-have.
For hotels, being available for check-in, restaurant bookings, valet and more, on channels that resonate with the modern guest, has proven to increase visits and maximize revenue. In this article, we’re taking a look at conversational hospitality and how you can incorporate it into your hotel.
What is Conversational Hospitality?
Conversational hospitality is the real-time communication between guest and hotel. It’s the incorporation of key messaging channels such as Facebook Messenger, text, WhatsApp, or even voice automated technology, in order to communicate effectively and build lasting relationships.
Delivering conversational hospitality, however, isn’t only about integrating digital messaging apps, but rather understanding your business in relation to the aforementioned channels and learning how to leverage them for a superb guest experience.
For a guest, conversational hospitality means requesting a spa service, booking a room, inquiring about room service and so on. It enables the guest to ask questions and get answers fast and effectively – even if there isn’t an employee available.
For hotels, conversational hospitality becomes about providing automated technology for conversations and channels that coincide with today’s digital demand. For hotels that leverage messaging apps, chat bots and digital channels, they can streamline booking confirmations and follow-ups. In addition, it provides the ability for hotels to get more personal with guests by utilizing profiles and offers automated support when no employees are available.
Tips For Hotels When Leveraging Conversational Hospitality
Regardless of the digital channels, you choose to incorporate within your business, conversational hospitality becomes an opportunity to foster a better relationship with your guests so you can fulfill the modern guest’s needs and build brand advocacy.
In this next section, we’re sharing the steps you can take to leverage conversational hospitality at your hotel.
Audit Your Current Channel Strategy
Before implementing a range of channels, it’s important to understand the ones you are currently providing and how they’re ranking in terms of guest usage. Knowing what is and isn’t popular with your guests can help you navigate which channels can help you succeed in connecting with customers.
For instance, let’s say you currently offer email, text and WhatsApp channels at your hotel. Before considering any channel, it’s important to look at usage. If your email channel has a low open rate, but WhatsApp and text are skyrocketing in engagement, it might be time to invest in more direct channels that hold real-time capabilities. It’s important to assess why people are gravitating towards those specific channels. Is text more convenient for the guest? Is the guest often on Facebook? What other platforms are your guests using? Understanding the answers to the questions can help you identify what channels work with your hotel, how to set up your standard operating procedure and the changes you should make that reflect your guest’s preferences.
Offer a Variety of Channels
By offering a range of both traditional and digital channels, you allow the guest to opt for their channel of choice rather than forcing them to a single or a few. With more digital options like social media channels, you become easier to reach and have a greater ability to engage guests on the channel of their choice.
Keep in mind, conversational hospitality is all about understanding your channels and what works best for your business. Try not to focus on the quantity of channels but rather the quality.
Ensure You’re Incorporating Next Generation Technology
Streamline the communication process with next-generation technology. Using next-gen technology like Chatbots via text or website pop-ups, you free up your employee’s time conversing with customers so they can focus on tasks at hand. In addition, with Chatbots mirroring human conversation, customers can easily engage with your hotel and foster an effortless booking experience. It’s an easy way to ensure your customer journey is simplified, your employee’s time is optimized and operations are running smoothly.
Initiate The Conversation And Be Available
When it comes to incorporating conversational hospitality, it’s important to be available for the guest and even make the first move. In many instances, guests can be hesitant in reaching out or not even be aware that you’re available on certain channels.
If a guest is on your website, enable a pop-up web chat to initiate the conversation, or if they’re on your Facebook page, enable a welcome message. By making the first move, you set the tone for a positive conversation and encourage them to ask questions as they look around.
As technology continues to evolve, it’s important for hotels to stay on top of the trend curve and meet customers where they are. For today’s modern guest, enhancing the experience begins with incorporating conversational hospitality. It’s about meeting expectations and delivering a seamless experience across multiple channels that keep the guest coming back.