This article was contributed by our partner, Benbria Corporation.
For the modern traveler, technology has become an essential part of almost every stage of their journey. Whether to research a hotel, purchase an excursion or communicate with staff, the reliance on technology can’t be ignored.
And although this tells us that having technology in place is crucial for hotelier survival, it also points to signs of a desire for immediate interaction. In fact, today 71% of customers expect real-time communication and 60% of customers want quick support to their inquiry.
As the landscape continues to evolve for hotels, real-time communication becomes paramount for effective communication, empowering customers to reach out and plan their trips on their own schedule.
In this blog, we’ll take a look at the current state of real-time communication, and how it can impact your hotel guest experience in the years to come.
The State of Hotel Communication
Historically, real-time engagement could be defined by a phone call or text message to concierge. However, today, many channels allow for immediate conversation. Apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter are growing in popularity, with customers reaching out on more than one channel and expecting conversations on two or more channels.
Immediacy has quite evidently become an essential part of the experience. It allows customers to continue on their whim of planning with little interruption or delay. Those who aren’t meeting customer expectations can experience a ripple in reputation and lose out on valuable loyalty. Let’s explore this further with how real-time directly impacts hoteliers.
How Real-Time Impacts Hoteliers
Seamless Requests & Alerts
For the hotelier, real-time communication allows for a seamless flow of conversation. Whether you choose to notify a guest when their room is ready, send updates on room service, or alert guests of COVID-19 precautions, it’s a great way to keep guests alert.
And it works both ways.
Guests can also leverage real-time communication to request items and updates on services, streamlining operations and ensuring greater satisfaction.
Room Service, Simplified
Today, room service takes on a completely new meaning as hotels around the globe opt for responsive and real-time devices. Instead of having a physical menu and phone, in-room tablets have become a tool to offer an array of hotel services.
For instance, in addition to restaurant menus, an in-room tablet can offer meal recommendations, spa packages, in-room fitness apps and a whole range of experience-enhancing services. This allows for up-selling your hotel’s offerings without the massive uplift.
It’s been reported that 82% of consumers look for an immediate response from brands. In addition, “78% of customers expect your brand to solve their problem (regardless of how complex it might be) with a single contact”.
Real-time capabilities, such as asking for feedback or having a channel open for communication, can help deter negative sentiment online and encourage a healthy flow of communication. If a customer writes in, staff are immediately notified, so you can recover the experience and reduce churn.
For the modern guest, having someone available to talk to in the moment can make all the difference in whether they leave with a good or bad experience.
Real-time opens up a new world of communication pre and post-stay that isn’t available with simple on-site communication. Rather than being restricted to in-stay, you can build a strategy (that includes upselling and collecting feedback) to continuously engage customers.
With greater opportunity to start a conversation and build a loyal brand relationship, having real-time capabilities can help you stay top of mind and competitive.
Your guests aren’t the only ones impacted by real-time capabilities. In fact, your employees benefit from it greatly.
With real-time capabilities, you can gamify the experience for hotel staff, encourage them to maintain a level of customer satisfaction, answer customer queries in record time, encourage friendly competition and so on.
Further, with real-time insights, your team can hold regular meetings at the beginning or end of their shift to ensure employees are performing to your brand standards.
Strategically Enhance Future Stays
Insights gathered from real-time conversations can help you understand trends to forecast for the future. Understand busy times of day, average customer sentiment and trending topics that can shape future experiences.
As an example, knowing what days customers are writing in can help you schedule employee shifts. In addition, knowing trending topics like “very clean” or “great service” can help you allocate spend and resources accordingly.
Taking the First Step Towards Real-Time Engagement
Implementing real-time capabilities comes with its benefits. From deterring negative sentiment to streamlining back-end operations and keeping your team on top of hotel trends, it’s a great way to grow your business.
However, taking the first step can be complex if you’re new to real-time engagement. With so many channels available and no previous data to build a strategy, it can get overwhelming.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
With a customer experience solution, you get a team of dedicated experienced specialists to assist you every step of the way. In addition, managing channels is simplified as you can consolidate all guest conversations into a single inbox; Facebook, Twitter, email, it all gets sent to a unified inbox for immediate response. Saving employees time toggling between tabs.
Further, an experience solution can provide you with detailed insights on customer sentiment and operational performance. Whether you’re looking to gain insight on time to respond or the average sentiment of a customer, an experience solution can consolidate data on a customizable dashboard that suits your needs.
For hoteliers, engaging guests in real-time is a great way to build a solid reputation and reduce churn. As expectations continue to sore and businesses become more competitive, offering real-time communication and feedback can keep you ahead of the curve.