The entire world is on standby. After unprecedented halts in travel and hospitality, the dim light at the end of the tunnel is getting a little brighter. For most of the hotel industry, this means a boost in motivation as businesses prepare to reopen. Many things will have to change in a post COVID-19 world and travelers themselves will be rather different than before – more cautious, more selective, and way less adventurous (well, at least for a while). This is why hoteliers need to focus their efforts on anticipating the upcoming needs and expectations of their future guests and adjust accordingly.
Hotel-guest communication is one of the most important and decisive aspects of a speedy and healthy recovery. The boundaries of communication have significantly stretched in the last decade and simply greeting the guest and replying to a post-stay survey won’t cut it anymore. It’s safe to assume that in the post-coronavirus travel landscape, real, open, and transparent communications with your guests will weigh quite heavily. Let’s explore some of the most important reasons why on-site communication will be more important than ever and how messaging your guests during their stay can make a significant difference in your engagement, operations, and overall reputation.
1. It shows that you care
Simple as it sounds, being open to communicating with your guests, especially during their on-site experience, sends a clear message: that you genuinely care about their stay and wellbeing and that you are available to answer any questions or concerns that they might have. Consider that the current crisis will have reverberations for a long time, maybe even years to come. It’s only natural that guests will constantly carry around a multitude of safety and health concerns in the back of their minds. As a hotelier or as a part of the staff, you have to be able to put those concerns at rest. First, through the obvious and necessary safety and cleanliness standards, and secondly, with a simple sign that you acknowledge the guests’ pain points, that you are listening to them, and able to solve them – not later, not tomorrow, but now.
2. It enforces trust and a feeling of safety
Nothing says trust like open and honest communication. Especially after such uncertain and trying times, your guests will want reassurance and a certain feeling of safety when enjoying a hotel experience. Health and safety concerns and questions are bound to arise so the best thing to do will be to make yourself available through different communication means and channels: from face-to-face to messaging through live chat, SMS, Facebook Messenger, or WeChat, it’s important to give your guests options to communicate. A great practice to apply would be to reach out first after your guests check in and inform them of any rules that are enforced at your hotel, all the safety measures that are taken, and all the restrictions currently in place. This will help assure trust in the practices that you are applying to keep them safe, as well as set up the right expectations from the beginning of their stay. Don’t keep information from your guests, that will only make you appear unreliable. If some of your amenities (like gym or spa or pool area) are closed, make sure to communicate that instead of letting your guests find out on their own.
3. It helps solve issues on the spot
Problems and issues will inevitably arise. It’s no shame, it happens to the best of us and in such a personal industry like hospitality, it is only human to occasionally make mistakes. The important thing lies in what you do afterwards and how you manage the situation. While feedback is great in any form, post-stay reviews can only point out issues when it’s too late for you to fix them. Instead, take the opportunity to communicate with your guests while they are on your property and check on them to see what they need, what they want, or what they might be lacking. A simple message asking them if everything’s in order or just letting them know that they have the option to reach out at any time can do wonders. Enabling guests to share immediate feedback on certain features or amenities is even better. Once you have their impression, make sure that you act upon it and not just file it away. Real-time communication is the best way to actually make a difference on the spot and fix issues that would otherwise make a dent in the overall experience.
4. It optimizes internal operations
Communication should not only happen between guests and the hotel staff but between staff members as well. With a messaging solution like the one we provide at TrustYou, the staff can oversee all the incoming messages from guests, all gathered in one Inbox, and then assign tasks among themselves. This ensures that the best person for a certain job is notified and can get right on to solving any issues or supporting guests in their requests. For example, let’s say one of your guests texts the front desk to ask for hand sanitizer or any other king of disinfectant. The person at the reception can notice the request in real-time and assign the cleaning department the task of delivering the inquired products to the guests’ room. This eases everyday operations, increases their efficiency, and helps solve issues and requests on the spot, leaving a positive impression on the hotel guest.
5. It prevents negative feedback
The majority of us have been, at some point, protagonists in the following scenario regarding any type of customer service or support: you come across a problem, you report it, and hear the generic “we’ll take this into consideration”. Translation: “let us just file that under the “some other time” stack”. In the case of a negative post-stay review, the only thing management can do is to keep it in mind for next time and try to not repeat the same mistake. Communicating with your guest right away, on the other hand, gives you the opportunity to immediately solve any issues that can be solved or simply thank the guest for their feedback and look into the problem as soon as possible. Especially after the COVID-19 crisis, it is likely that travelers will have many concerns and be pickier than they were before. Make sure to communicate with them in real-time and make an effort to fix their issue as soon as you can. This will automatically prevent negative feedback, sometimes even in the case that issues could not have been solved due to certain limitations. The simple act of communicating, acknowledging the guests’ concerns, and listening to them, as well as the interest to attend to their needs and expectations cand make a huge difference in how they perceive the overall hotel experience.
Feel free to get in touch with our team of experts if you want to inquire about our effective and easy-to-use messaging solution that will help you respond in real-time to the needs of post COVID-19 travelers. You can also check out this page to learn more about TrustYou Messaging.
Make sure to keep an eye out on our Travel Health Index, to spot the first signs of recovery in your particular region. We update the Index every single week with the most recent and accurate data.
Laura is a passionate bookworm and a gifted writer. Since joining TrustYou’s marketing team, she has embraced topics in the travel and hospitality sector with enthusiasm. Using her degree in Journalism, Laura creatively weaves words into insightful stories with a focus on reputation management.
TrustYou, the world’s largest guest feedback platform, empowers hotels with solutions to drive more bookings and improve their hotel product. Through each phase of the guest journey, hotels can utilize guest feedback to enhance review marketing and achieve operational excellence. Guest feedback influences 95% of booking decisions. TrustYou Meta-Review, which incorporates hundreds of millions of hotel reviews, surveys, and social posts for over 500,000 hotels worldwide, powers guest reviews on dozens of travel sites, including Google, Kayak, and Hotels.com.* These reviews also generate actionable insights for hotels to improve their presence along each step of the guest journey, from booking and pre-stay search queries, to real-time guest requests and messages, to post-stay feedback in the form of survey responses and reviews. Through the TrustYou partner program, PMS, CRM, IBE and other hotel software providers can integrate TrustYou’s guest feedback platform into their products to help their hotel clients positively influence bookings and revenue.
Find more information on TrustYou and the guest feedback platform on www.trustyou.com.
*TrustYou Meta-Reviews only contain verified reviews and do not include reviews from TripAdvisor
Lize de Kock