Every business needs to use text messaging to optimize the customer experience and satisfaction. If you aren’t convinced, consider the recent Gallup poll that found 68% of Americans under age 30 prefer texting to every other communication method. In addition to texting family and friends, 90% of consumers want to text businesses.
Why do people prefer texting? Some of the biggest reasons are its ease of use and lack of intrusiveness. It is also asynchronous, so you don’t have to wait for the other person to be available at the same time. Instead, the message gets sent and each person involved can reply at their convenience. This makes it easy to fit texting into your day. It also lets you save time compared with playing phone tag.
What does all of this mean for hospitality businesses? If you aren’t using texting to interact with your customers, they may go to your competitors. Luckily, Podium makes it incredibly easy to connect with customers via text or their other preferred method of communication.
This guide will teach you everything you need to know about integrating texting into your hospitality business.
How to Set Up Text Messaging for Your Hotel
The first thing you need to do is have a number that customers can text.
Set Up Google Business Messaging
We suggest you set up Google Business Messaging if you haven’t already done so. This feature is integrated into your Google Business Profile listing and makes it easy for mobile searchers to text you.
Just follow these simple steps to set up Click-to-Message on your Google Business Profile.
- Log into your profile.
- Find “Messaging” in the left menu.
- Add your phone number.
- Check for a code from Google to your number.
- Enter the verification code.
- Customers can now text your business from Google.
Enable Your Landline
Next up, make sure that your landline can accept text messages. You will need to use a third-party solution, but it is well worth the minimal effort required.
Whenever possible, you should use your landline for texting. This helps maintain consistency with your contact information and brand, which will help significantly with your local SEO rankings. It also eliminates confusion for customers.
Make Sure Customers Know They Can Text You
Once everything is ready, let customers know that your business is reachable via text message. Start by adding a note to “call or text us” next to your phone number everywhere that your contact information is listed. At the very least, the information should be on your website, in your email signature, and on each of your listings in business directories.
To keep things running smoothly, you will want to use a guest interaction platform. Podium, for example, lets you manage text conversations as well as those from other channels, such as email and Facebook. As a bonus, businesses that rely on Podium for messaging customers have dropped their call volume by 15% and increased customer satisfaction by 26%.
Best Practices for Text Messaging with Guests
It’s very common for hospitality businesses to be reluctant to integrate text messaging because they don’t know how or when to use it. To get you started, we’ve highlighted some crucial moments during guest experiences that texting can improve their journey.
1. Let Guests Check Amenities Via Text
One excellent opportunity for texting is to let potential guests confirm what amenities your hotel offers. This saves them the hassle of driving to your location only to realize you don’t have a pool or the continental breakfast they want.
Encouraging guests to text about amenities will make their experience much more seamless. It also lets them ask hyper-specific questions about amenities that they wouldn’t necessarily find the answer to on your website. As a bonus, it lets your employees respond with pictures of your hotel and amenities to give guests a better idea of what they should expect.
2. Get Feedback from Guests
Another incredibly useful way to incorporate texting is to ask for feedback. Many Podium customers have started using text message-based surveys instead of traditional customer satisfaction surveys.
Sending a survey over text messaging dramatically increases your open rate as well as your response rate. This comes from the fact that texting is less intrusive and more conversational compared to a traditional survey.
3. Address Guest Problems
Yet another way to boost the customer experience with texting is by letting your customers reach out to you with issues over it. This is especially useful in the case of minor issues that don’t require a phone call and could be resolved in a quick text.
It gives the added benefit of guests being able to send a photo of their problem. That visual can save plenty of unnecessary explanations or potential misunderstandings while trying to resolve the issue.
4. Let Guests Request Items Over Text
Expand the previous use case of texting and consider addressing even the smallest requests or issues over text, such as if guests need another pillow or blanket. Letting guests and customers make these requests over text is easy for them and reduces the strain on your team.
5. Book Rooms
You may not realize it, but you can let your guests make reservations over text. Many Podium users actually make sales via text messages, including for things that are more expensive than hotel rooms. Even big-ticket items like cars can be sold over Podium.
This can come in handy if you have a very hot lead and want to connect your guest with the right service or booking quickly. By offering reservations over text, they can book in the current conversation. There’s no need for them to switch channels or platforms, something which would drop their likelihood to book.
Of course, there’s also the simple fact that guests like the convenience of making reservations over text. Think of it as an extension of being able to book via your website.
6. Send Confirmations and Reminders
When guests make a reservation via text, you can use that same conversation to confirm their reservation or even send a reminder a few days before it. Sending reminders like this is a great way to reduce no-shows. It could also give you a chance to remind guests about your cancellation policy so they can avoid fees.
7. Collect Reviews
Surveys aren’t the only type of feedback from guests that you can encourage with text messaging. You can also encourage them to leave you reviews. Podium makes it easy for you to directly connect guests with review sites like Google, Facebook, and TripAdvisor. By texting review requests, you get to take advantage of the high open rate of texts to increase your response rate.
And as you build your online reputation, you increase the chances that future guests will choose your hotel over the competition. You will show up in more search results and when potential guests try to decide if your hotel is a good fit, they will be convinced by the positive reviews.
The Bottom Line
All businesses, including those in the hospitality industry, need to incorporate texting to improve the customer experience and maximize profits. Podium makes it simple to connect with guests over text. Podium Messenger lets you easily stay connected with guests via real-time text messages on a centralized dashboard. Check out this demo to learn more.