To entice the all-important millennial demographic, hoteliers are putting their staff with the nimblest fingers to use by engaging with travelers via text message. By employing this quick and easy form of communication, guests are able to make requests and resolve issues without needless trips to the front desk.
Using a guest engagement platform called Kipsu—one of several companies that connect hotels and customers through text—SLS Beverly Hills began a texting program in 2014. The goal was to improve service and solicit feedback, but it has also yielded unexpected and sometimes life-saving results. “One time, a man forgot to book a restaurant and order flowers for his anniversary, and texted us from the pool,” recalls Ryan Adams, director of operations at SLS Beverly Hills, a Luxury Collection Hotel. “We were able to make arrangements and save the day for him.”
The conversation starts with a welcome text to greet new guests. If guests choose to continue the correspondence, they are sent an in-stay survey based on a scale of 1–5 about the quality of their visit, ensuring that the manager on duty can resolve any issues before the trip ends.
Customers are also sent light, playful messages regarding the property, offerings, and area attractions upon request. They also hold in their hands the power to receive updates about room readiness, ask for vehicle retrieval, and make in-room service requests. The hotel is working to add a pre-departure thank you message, updates for events or discounts in the spa, and requests for guests to take a Starwood survey or post to TripAdvisor after their stay.
While texting can be mutually beneficial for guests and employees, Adams says it is important to avoid bombarding someone with unwanted messages. If a guest chooses to opt out of future texts, it is noted in the hotel’s system to prevent messages from popping up again, even upon a return visit. Additionally, Adams cautions against getting too personal. “Keep it brief, not too familiar, even if they invite the dialogue. We want to be fun, but not misinterpreted,” he says. “And don’t entertain rude comments. There is a blocking feature for the hotel to protect the staff if necessary.”