As the world returns to normalcy, guest messaging is one hospitality trend that guests have come to expect. Hotel brands are utilizing messaging as a powerful tool to drive loyalty, satisfaction, and brand app downloads.
Even with the new post-pandemic travel landscape, loyalty is more important than ever for hotel brands. Research shows that loyalty is a dominant factor of success in hospitality.
The COVID-19 pandemic reset guest expectations for accommodations. Guests have come to expect more from their favorite brands than loyalty points. What keeps guests coming back to their favorite brands are key differentiators, like service, amenities, and communication.
Several new strategies and business practices emerged in response to the pandemic. Some, like social distancing, will fade away as the industry returns to normal. Others, like mobile keys and guest messaging, are trends that guests expect to stick around well beyond 2020/2021.
Tens of millions of dollars have been spent on developing brand apps. Today, guests can manage nearly every aspect of their stays from the palm of their hand. However, the adoption of branded apps continues to present a consistent challenge for hotel brands.
There are several factors that contribute to limited app adoption by guests. In our technological world, guests face app overload. The average US consumer has more than 80 apps installed on their smartphone, even though the average smartphone owner uses only 10 apps per day and 30 apps per month. Even if travelers install brand apps to their devices, they require compelling reasons to keep returning to the app during their stays.
The main promotion strategies for brand apps are limited, as well. Marketing collateral on-site can only do so much to encourage passive downloads. Additions to pre-arrival and mid-stay emails are easily ignored by guests. The email open rate for the hospitality industry is only 15.6%, according to recent research by Constant Contact.
In comparison to email’s open rate of 15%, SMS messages have an open rate of over 98% and an average reply rate of 42%. This figure is astonishing! Although marketing materials and emails are easily ignored or missed by guests, SMS messages are almost always read and responded to. Leading hoteliers have noticed, and are increasingly building guest messaging into their service models as a major service differentiator.
Before guests commit to downloading a brand app to their devices, they need to see the benefits. Guest messaging offers an enticing “preview” of the services offered by brand apps. As the industry exits the pandemic, guests are expecting to message with service providers more than ever.
Implementing guest messaging benefits service teams and guests. For guests, “phone anxiety” (the fear of speaking to a stranger on the phone) is a common phenomenon. They’d rather not wait on hold or in line at the front desk for service, either. Guests will often keep a running list of things that weren’t “a perfect 10” during their stay, and save their feedback for brand surveys at the end of their visit. Messaging gives guests immediate access to service teams, and the asynchronous communication format means that conversations feel natural even when agents take several minutes to reply.
Speaking of agents, teams who adopt messaging usually do so fiercely. With a shared inbox of guest requests, agents are free to use tools like quick replies to answer common questions, prioritize their responses in order of urgency, and dispatch entire conversations to relevant teams if needed. Messaging has been shown to reduce call volume and front desk traffic, as well.
After utilizing messaging, guests are more likely to download brand apps because they recognize the benefits of having a direct line of communication with their hotel.
SMS reigns dominant as a communications channel in the US. Depending on where guests are from, there are up to a dozen different apps or channels which they’ll use to try and get in touch with service teams. These additional channels are especially important for properties with many international travelers and for brands with significant business outside of the US.
When guests are unable to find their hotel on their preferred messaging channels, it leads to a frustrating experience. Teams, however, cannot be expected to manage dozens of channels--that kind of bandwidth doesn’t exist, and the features of individual apps are extremely limited.
Kipsu was originally built for SMS but has scaled to support dozens of messaging channels from every geography. When Kipsu integrates new messaging channels (including in-app messaging), each channel works with powerful features like handoff, dispatch, and escalations. Holistic profiles can automatically give context to every conversation through PMS and ticketing integrations.
With sky-high open rates of messaging, service teams can finally open strong lines of communication with guests to drive better service, satisfaction, loyalty, and app downloads.
Curious to learn more about Kipsu and digital messaging? Connect with a member of our team to get all of your questions answered.