POWER OF SMS IN HOSPITALITY – ACCOMMODATION SECTOR
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POWER OF SMS IN HOSPITALITY – ACCOMMODATION SECTOR

The Across Country Motor Inn has been using our customer engagement strategies for more than 2 years now and this has built a stronger relationship with their guests. Their Booking.com customer review index has greatly improved from 7.2 to 7.8 and is continuously improving. 

In this article, we will cover the entire process or workflow in harnessing the Power of SMS method from the first contact with the guest, when they arrived, during and after their stay as well as the marketing opportunities after their stay. 

BOOKING CONFIRMATION 

When a booking is made, an SMS template can be sent to your guests. You just have to insert the required details. Below is a sample template. 

Hi John, Thank you for choosing Across Country Motor Inn. This is to confirm your booking for (# of night/s) arriving on (date of arrival) and departing on (date of departure) on our (room type) for (Room rate) per night. We understand that unforeseen events can happen so we would greatly appreciate it if you can let us know 2 days prior if you would like to cancel the booking so we can make it available for other travelers seeking accommodation. To find out more about our cancellation policy or terms and conditions, please visit www.motelsdubbo.com.au. Any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. See you then! 🙂 Kind regards, The Manager 

This is a short and simple booking confirmation. You can also add check-in time or reception hours or ask for their estimated time of arrival. Once they have your mobile number, there’s a more personal touch on how you communicate with your guests compared to email. Email confirmation can still be sent but SMS has an open rate as high as 98% compared to 20% for emails.

PRE ARRIVAL 

Sending SMS to guests before they are a good way to remind them of their booking in your property. This is also a good opportunity to correct any errors in their booking beforehand like the date of the booking, number of adults or children, Room Type and Room Rates. Although this has already been sent via the booking confirmation, it’s still best to send an SMS reminder 2 or 3 days before the booking to avoid no shows or incorrect booking dates. There are also instances where the guest has already cancelled the booking but you forgot to cancel or remove it in your reservation system. This way, you’d still be able to sell the room just in case this happens rather than wait for the guest to arrive then come closing time they didn’t show up and you’re fully booked and failed to sell your last room and you turned down bookings on that day. This is also a good opportunity to remind them that you will also take prepayment 1 or 2 days before the booking to secure the reservation or you may also ask for an estimated time of arrival if this was not provided when the booking was made. 

Hi John, Your stay is just around the corner! Thanks again for your reservation at Across Country Motor Inn. This is just to remind you of the following details for your upcoming reservation for (# of night/s) arriving on (date of arrival) and departing on (date of departure) on our (room type) for (Room rate) per night. 

We would greatly appreciate it if you could let us know of your estimated time of arrival so we can plan ahead. If you have provided this when the booking was made then we’re all good! This is also to let you know that your credit card will be charged 1-2 days before your arrival date to guarantee the booking. We appreciate your understanding of this policy. (Please ignore this if your booking has been prepaid.) We look forward to welcoming you! Kind regards, The Manager 

ON ARRIVAL

When the guest has arrived at your property, a sample Welcome SMS can be sent to them. 

Hi John! Welcome to Dubbo and to our humble motel. Free continental breakfast is 7-9AM at the back of reception. Includes Toasts, Cereals, Seasonal fruit, Fruit Juice, Tea and Coffee. Unlimited FREE WIFI, connect to Across Wifi PW: xxxxxxxxxxx

Reception closes at 10pm but if there’s anything you need I’m here to help 24/7. To find out more about our current and future refurbishments please visit our website at www.motelsdubbo.com.au/feedback. Other than that, feel at home & hope you enjoy your stay! 🙂 The Manager

Sending an SMS on their arrival with your Mobile number gives an assurance to the guest that you are just one text or call away. There are guests who prefer SMS as a mode of communication rather than a phone call or by email. With this simple gesture, you already established an undeniable “connection” to the guest saying “hey, I’m just here if you need anything even if the reception is closed you can still be contacted anytime. This avoids any future unnecessary complaints after their stay. Also, by sending them your Feedback Page, you have already set the expectation of your guest of what they are having. This will pretty much say that if what you are selling is a hamburger then that’s what they are getting and that’s what they are paying for. They don’t go out complaining afterwards that they didn’t like it because it’s not cheesy enough or big enough. What they should have ordered is a cheeseburger or a double patty burger. This is no different from Hotel/Motel Room types, if they ordered and paid for Budget or Standard Room, then that’s what they’re getting and not the Superior, Executive or the Penthouse Suite. So from the get go, you have already established setting the expectation of your customer and you can use this argument in responding to customer reviews. 

One common example are those guests who complain after their stay asking for a refund or compensation. Usual excuse is they say they don’t don’t want to bother you because it’s very late. You can mention that you have included in your SMS that you can be contacted for any issues 24/7 so they have no excuse not to contact you. Right here and then, you already have the upper hand. Even if they threatened to post a negative review online you can still include this in your response so your readers will know that the customer is in the wrong. How sweet is that?

DURING THEIR STAY – (Optional)

This is optional since not all guests like to be bothered once they have checked in but there are still those who feel special when you  always keep in touch with them. This may include tourists that want to know more about your area. It’s best to ask your guest if they wish to receive SMS during their stay and if they opt-in you can send SMS like these below: 

Hi John, Hope everything’s doing well so far. The Western Taronga Zoo is running a special today for a buy 1 for the price of 2. To find out more please visit this link: www.yourlink.com.au. Get a free coffee or a welcome drink at “The ABC Bar and Restaurant”, just quote “YourHotelNamePromoName” to claim. 

This is an opportunity to earn extra income if your Property has a deal or collaboration with other businesses. This increases engagement with your guests while at the same time promoting businesses in your community. The world is your oyster, it’s up to you how to tweak this template to increase customer engagement while at the same time increasing revenue. 

THE PRO ACTIVE APPROACH – THANK YOU SMS – On check out

This is one of the most important part of the Power of SMS Method. Consider this as an icing on the cake or the final piece of the puzzle. A lot of Accommodation providers usually miss this very important part of the guest’s stay. Many property owners that we have worked with always wonder why most of their guests posts a review or when they do, it’s a negative one and they end up explaining and apologising themselves in the process. This template have have separated each line and colour coded to analyse the template.

Hi Jane! Thank you for staying with us. We’d love to hear from you. If we missed anything, our sincerest apologies. Please let us know if there’s anything we need to improve before posting a review online or by replying to this SMS. A link to current improvements we are doing in our property is posted in our website: www.motelsdubbo.com.au/feedback, your suggestion is greatly appreciated in improving our Motel. Take care and see you next time! The Manager

As you can see, this SMS template is short and sweet but punches a lot of flavour. With this ‘thank you’ note, you are not only thanking them for staying at your property, but it also encourages feedback from the guest rather than waiting for the guest to post a review online. If the review is a potential negative, you have the opportunity to turn the tide in your favour. If they reply to your SMS, you are now handling the negative review internally rather than replying to a negative review online. 

If they still post a negative review online despite sending this SMS, you can always say that you have encouraged an open forum or discussion but it seems they decided to let the world know about the issue rather than discussing it in a professional manner. This way, the reader will look at you differently compared to the classic replying to a negative review and just apologising to the guest and telling them it won’t happen again and… you know what I mean right?

Moving on. The most common mistake that any business makes is when they’re asking for a review from a customer, they immediately give the link to their customer like Google, Facebook or Trip Advisor and they go straight to those review websites. There’s nothing wrong with this but what you are doing is promoting these review websites straight away and theey love that! We are not saying we are not giving them the link to those review sites. What you need to do is direct them to a feedback page of your own website that contains all those links. This specific page of your business like what Across Country Motor Inn is doing: www.motelsdubbo.com.au/feedback which will include all of your current and upcoming refurbishments. For example, if the customer will complain about a smaller TV, then you can say you are currently rolling out new Smart TVs. If they complain about an old carpet then you can say that you have recently replaced a few rooms and the rest of the rooms will follow. When the guest is redirected to this page and reads all of these, this will at least influence how they will review your property. So instead of just giving them links to these 3rd party websites, give your website link first. You can also add a url shortener like bitly so you can monitor the performance of your link. This will be discussed in a separate article. 

At the end of the day, you can never dictate what the guest is thinking but you can at least influence the decision making process and turn the scale in your favour. What we offer is peace of mind and the ability to take control of how your customers perceive your business. 

We’re so confident about this system that we offer a money back guarantee on unused credit should you feel that this system is not for you. No questions asked. 

We also offer a Reputation Management Service where we reply on reviews posted by your customers and the response will always be professionally written relevant to your business. Please contact us to know more and when you sign up with our service, you’ll have access to free templates so you can start straight away. Call us now at 1300 711 000 or 0411 500 700 or visit our website www.yesSMS.com.au to find out more.