Use of messaging and chat apps at hotels are fast becoming the preferred means to communicate with guests and, with this, come the endless possibilities to build relationships and increase sales. Hotel guests can chat in real-time and receive valuable and convenient customer service. This builds a trusting relationship that will go a long way toward loyalty and guest retention as well as lower overhead costs with efficient daily operations.
The technology is not new but primarily it is the exponential increase of mobile usage in recent years that is at the heart of the resurgence of messaging and chat apps. A Forrester Research study shows consumers spend nearly 78% of their time on smartphones and more than 3 billion consumers world-wide are heavy users of instant messaging platforms.
Conversational Marketing and Building Hotel Guest Relationships
The implication of conversational marketing might be to drive sales but its use now-a-days is more toward providing good customer service. Uber’s Chris Messina coined the term conversational commerce and, simply put, it refers to the trend toward interaction between consumers and businesses through messaging apps, chat apps, and voice-activated technology. Consumer engagement can be through a human representative, chatbot or a fusion of the two.
For hotels it provides an excellent tool for hotel staff to automate customer service messages to guests. This increases hotel staff efficiency and provides a great guest experience. Hotels can interact with guests to quickly answer questions, resolve issues and provide personalized recommendations – all in real-time and at the guests’ convenience.
In the artificial intelligence market, there is now IBM’s Watson Technology. It’s essentially a supercomputer system that answers questions using natural human speech with filters for intent and context. The likes of Facebook, Google and Microsoft have their own versions that are free within their platforms.
Facebook Messenger is now able to accept payments through chatbots that not only increase guest engagement but create the possibility to translate the conversation into booking transactions without ever leaving the application. This makes it easy and convenient because it means there is no jumping back and forth between website and text conversations. Reducing the number of sources hotel guests need to turn to will shorten the distance between a prospect and a booking.
Conversational Marketing and The Hotel Guest Journey
Regardless of how conversational marketing reaches you, guests want help, advice and direction while they work through their decision-making process. It should be an effortless process for your guests and gives a chance to establish a better rapport with your guests and prospective guests. A quick turn-around to questions/inquires, convenience and personal attention mean everything to your guests. So it’s vital to have the conversation stay natural – human – real.
Effective conversational commerce can successfully get your hotel to increase customer satisfaction and foster meaningful relationships. Hotel marketing strategies should carefully consider ways to provide a better customer experience by fusing with emerging technology that will help make those engagements turn into bookings.