We devote 30% of the time we spend on our smartphone to instant messaging platforms.
People just love to use WhatsApp, SMS, Facebook Messenger, live chat systems, etc. This trend is obvious and impossible to ignore – which is why instant messaging for hotels is a great opportunity. Let’s explore how hoteliers can leverage instant messaging for sales, marketing, and customer service.
What does instant messaging change in our life?
You most likely use the main instant messaging platforms and it is hard to think of life without them.
– Instant messaging removes barriers to communication: All of a sudden, communication has become simple, fast and free. Thanks to instant messaging, the cost of communication has disappeared.
– Notifications and new messages trigger our reward system. Thus, we have developed an addiction to them.
– Gentle social pressure reinforces the use of instant messaging. What do you think those read notifications are for?
So we have a communication technology that is already more used than social media. It is also super addictive and free. Sales and guest relationship are dear to hoteliers, and instant messaging for hotels can only be a huge asset.
What is the value of instant messaging for hotels?
- Direct bookings – Information is available everywhere. However, customers are so bombarded with it that they are less and less willing to spend time looking. They just want to tell you what they need and expect you to answer accordingly. If you provide this kind of interaction, you reduce the barrier to direct booking.
The message here is that hotels are pushing their offer really hard. Listening to what customers want is just as important. (Of course, you need to have the right tools to make it manageable). Air France did an extensive study about its Live Chat (which is a messaging platform like any other). The findings showed that 20% of conversations converted into sales in a timeframe of 14 days.
- Upsell – Once communication is open, it doesn’t have to stop. You can re-engage at key moments when you know customers will be receptive. For example, late check-out messages work extremely well on Sundays. If you have a restaurant and have more than one adult guest in a reservation, it is a safe bet that if you send them a message offering a free drink they’ll end up having dinner at your restaurant.
- Two-way customer relationship – Instant messaging is also extremely comfortable for customers to use and keep using. As a business, becoming a habit for your customers is extremely valuable. This is because it makes repeat purchases more likely. Creating a comfort zone for your customer is probably the best move you can make to foster loyalty. (Of course, a proper process must be set up by the hotel).
- Improve guest experience – Many guests won’t go through the trouble of picking up the room phone. They also won’t go down to the reception to tell you what’s bothering them. It is much easier for customers to give feedback through messages without feeling shy.
- Deliver a great experience – Instant messages leave a trace and are easier to manage, track and work on than oral requests.
Best practices of instant messaging for hotels
Sometimes, hoteliers ask if there is any chance that messages become invasive. When you send a text, you know that 95% of people will read it in the following 5 min and 98% after 15 min. When you are able to grab attention like this you have a responsibility to do it correctly. Luckily, the rules of instant communications are very straightforward.
With these 2 golden rules you can’t go wrong :
1- If, as a customer, you wouldn’t like to receive the message you’re about to send, then don’t send it.
2- If the message you’re about to send doesn’t create any value* for the hotel, then don’t send it.
*Value can be assessed in terms of service delivery or financial ROI.
Will instant messaging replace human interaction?
Mobile technology, messaging platforms, and social media have changed the way we interact. Now, more than ever, you don’t need to meet someone in person to start a conversation or a relationship. Some people fear that instant messaging will replace human interaction. This fear is probably not justified as we see that people are interacting more and more.
“Interaction is the new search,” believes Benjamin Devisme, Co-Founder of Quicktext, an instant messaging solution coupled with Zoe, their AI-powered hotel chatbot.
We live in a world where instant gratification has become the new standard. Online, your customers’ attention drops rapidly if things don’t come as quickly as they expect. They think fast, expect answers faster, and get frustrated when any delay occurs. They then take their business elsewhere. Your hotel’s response time is now a source of competitive advantage that can no longer be overlooked.
Some messaging channels such as WhatsApp or WeChat have a massive user base. This necessitates their integration into your e-commerce strategy as a channel. If there is one rule in business, it is: Be where your customers are.
So, you need to find efficient ways to deliver this instant response. But this won’t happen at the expense of real human contact. The goal is to be able to cover more ground and serve your customer even when he is not in front of you.
With instant messaging for hotels, you can simply speed up communication. Who has time really, to wait for another email or to get a phone call back? Things are changing. Therefore, rather than regretting old times, adapting to change is the only way to make customer interactions smoother.