April 25, 2022
From letting guests know about the restaurant hours, or notifying them of baby turtles hatching at the beach just a few yards away, the teams at Shangri-La Al Husn and Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah are using WhatsApp to create an unforgettable experience for their guests.
Ameen Mohamed, Marketing and Communications Manager at the two beachside Shangri-La properties, got his start with Shangri-La in Sri Lanka, where he’s from. He was part of the pre-opening team, setting up the flagship property for a grand opening for almost eight months.
“It was the most-talked about hotel opening in all of Sri Lanka,” Ameen said of the property that opened in November of 2017. Soon after, he did marketing for a Shangri-La property in the Maldives and following that, moved to Muscat, Oman in 2019.
Again with Shangri-La, Ameen now looks over these two properties that hold over 640 rooms in a gorgeous setting. Mountains surround by the Sea of Oman, which both resorts sit on the edge of.
Meeting people from different nationalities and learning about their culture is his favorite part of the industry. “You have people who have experience in different markets, environments, and countries,” Ameen said about the Shangri-La team and travelers he gets to meet.
That and being able to be a part of guests’ “lovely memories” that they bring back home are the main reasons he loves hospitality. “I think that’s the best reward you have working in this industry itself,” he said.
Travelers coming to the Shangri-La Al Husn and Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah are mainly looking for a resort experience in a stunning environment, explained Ameen. Most are seeking a relaxing experience in nature, but the locations are also close to other endeavors—the city center of Muscat, Oman is just 30 minutes away.
“This makes it a location for business travelers who may be mixing business with pleasure as well,” he said. With lots of space for conferences, complete with scenery surrounding the beach, a lazy river, and more, company getaways aren’t rare.
Ameen previously used WhatsApp for Business at his Oman Shangri-La properties, but it wasn’t until the winter of 2021 that they integrated with Kipsu to reach guests through the popular digital messaging channel.
“Once we integrated with Kipsu, this helped us streamline a lot of operations and helped the team overcome limitations,” he said. WhatsApp for Business didn’t allow them to fully integrate with house service, he explained — with this integration, the team can sort out guest requests quickly and collaborate through hotel messaging.
“It’s a lot easier for guests to voice out their issues, and we can reach out to them quickly to solve these issues,” Ameen said. “This essentially means you won’t have negative reviews at your property.”
This is really helping the team, especially after months of adapting to irregularities in hospitality due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said. “From a position of where you can stop escalation, this platform is really helping us overall.”
With lots of travelers coming not just from the other Gulf countries but also all over the world, the translation feature in the WhatsApp + Kipsu integration has been helpful to communicate with guests, Ameen added.
A unique feature that the Shangri-La team has used within the integration is the “outreach” feature, where one message can be sent to everyone on the property who consented to receive communication.
Whether it’s a yoga class or a special event for guests, this feature allows the team to notify guests of what’s happening across the vast property. One instance was on New Year’s Eve this past year, when inclement weather caused a last-minute shift in plans for festivities.
“The best way to reach out to all our guests was through the platform, and it was received by all the guests,” Ameen said of the weather-related change in schedule. “This was appreciated by everyone who signed up, to know in advance… which is very important to plan their day.”
Another instance where outreach is helpful is when a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see nature up close is approaching. The Shangri-La properties are one of only five turtle nesting sites in Oman, making it a very unique location for environmental wonders. In peak turtle hatching season, the team will notify all guests staying at the properties so they can watch baby turtles hatching and scuttling into the sea.
“This wonderful experience happens, the kids get excited, even the adults get super excited,” Ameen said.
One of the most impactful features for Ameen and his team is that Kipsu is a web-based platform. “At the end of the day, you can log in from wherever you are,” he said. Features like Handoff allow team members to have others take over the conversation, or assign maintenance requests.
“As a platform, it’s something that has really helped elevate the service levels overall,” he said.
Shangri-La Al Husn and Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah are two of six Shangri-La pilot properties trying out the WhatsApp + Kipsu integration—and it’s making a difference. Learn more about how it works or schedule a conversation with our team today!
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