As far as priorities go, there’s nothing more important for hotels than ensuring an unforgettable guest experience. With social media now becoming dominant in all walks of life, it’s much easier for hoteliers to connect with audiences around the world. Platforms like Facebook provide properties with a great opportunity to engage guests and get them to share their experiences, positively reinforcing the brand’s image.
While the majority of hotels have adopted various social media strategies to maximize their following on channels such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, very few have tapped into the realms of instant messaging.
WhatsApp is among the top 5 most used apps in the world and with hotels constantly seeking new methods to get in front of guests, this might be the most obvious solution!
Email has always worked well for pre-arrival and post-departure communication with guests. But with personalization becoming an increasingly important part of the stay for more and more travelers, WhatsApp could provide hotels with the ideal replacement.
Instant communication enables guests to contact the hotel for any reservation related enquiries during the pre-arrival phase, and can be used to talk to the hotel concierge or front desk agents during occupancy.
With mobile becoming an extremely important part of guests’ lives, it seems like the natural thing to do for hotels to begin incorporating WhatsApp with their marketing strategies as well.
Perhaps the greatest incentive for guests to include hotels in their list of contacts would be the enhanced simplicity. Hotels could arrange transport, offer room service, and even customize the room as per specific instructions via WhatsApp communication.
Starwood Hotels have been utilizing WhatsApp to connect with guests during their stay, allowing them to make requests on the app. Marriott, the parent company, have also announced their plans to introduce mobile requests on four of their other brands.
Here are some simple ways for hotels to begin experimenting with WhatsApp communication –
- Set up a dedicated mobile number just for receiving and responding to WhatsApp messages
- Assign someone to respond to the messages, and to respond quickly. WhatsApp is an instant messaging app and living up to that billing is what triggered its rapid global adoption – so staff will have to reply in no longer than about 5 minutes. This might call for some training.
- Prepare personalized offers to send to previous guests – you can send out these campaigns during the off-peak months.
- Encourage guests to communicate directly with your hotel for enquiries about hotel bookings, sending room photos, billing information, and so on
- Try cross-selling with guests in the occupancy stage by sending them relevant offers for nearby tours and outdoor activities
All these platforms are available for free and we have no means by which to predict social media trends for the future – so it’s almost criminal for hoteliers to ignore channels when they should be on every possible one!