How to Turn SMS Messages Into Better Reviews for Your Hotel
There’s no doubting the power of reviews in today’s world. Social media and review sites like TripAdvisor give potential visitors a pretty good idea of what to expect at a hotel without ever having to visit it.
That’s one reason ensuring guests get the best customer service is high on a hotelier’s list of things to do. If that’s true for you, read on to see how sending SMS messages to your guests can improve your guest satisfaction ratings.
Impact Of Reviews
To keep things in perspective, here is some data from a study done by the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism at New York University.
- Travelers are 3.9 times more likely to choose a hotel with higher review scores when the room price is the same
- When given the option, travellers will book a more expensive hotel with higher ratings over a less expensive one with lower ratings
- 76% of travellers are willing to pay more for hotels that have higher ratings
More data from Travelocity showed just a single point increase on a five-point scale (3 stars to 4 stars for example) means hotels can charge 11.2% more and still keep the same occupancy rate.
The question is, how can you get that extra star or review points? Enter SMS messaging.
I’ve read in many places that hotels received better reviews that could be directly attributed to the use of SMS messaging. Unfortunately, the sources for those statements were never mentioned (I’m a stickler for finding original sources), so I can’t quote you the definitive study that proves it.
But what I did find were two examples that can help make the case. One is an anecdotal example pulled from TripAdvisor. The other one is a limited study of a hotel group “left unnamed” discussed in an article.
The claim that SMS messages are directly responsible for improved ratings is based on a couple different ideas. First, good communication often helps resolve guest issues, which means they are likely to leave a positive review. SMS is quick and very familiar to guests so it’s a perfect choice to use.
Second, is when guests leave specific positive comments about using SMS in their reviews, we can assume SMS helped contribute to the positive review (the opposite may also be true too). Here’s an example in the image below.
It’s pretty easy to see they were impressed with the use of SMS messaging at that hotel.
My second example comes from an article on tnooz.com. It recounted an unnamed hotel brand that experimented with SMS messaging. It tested it out on half of their customers, and the other half only received the current standard communications (via phone, email, in-person, etc.).
The SMS messaging side did so well the hotel brand implemented it and saw a 20% boost in its net promoter score on average. Assuming the article is accurate, that’s a pretty good example to follow.
How To Use It
SMS messaging can be used in many different ways within a hotel. Here are some examples:
- Send welcome texts to guests the day before check-in to get the experience started
- Provide weather information for their stay too so they can come prepared
- Send hotel contact details the day of arrival so they can easily access it if they need it
- Update them on check-in times if there is early availability of rooms (see review from TripAdvisor above)
- Offer room service via text message rather than a call to a busy kitchen with potentially short-tempered staff
- Wake-up “calls” via text are effective, yet less intrusive to the guests (provided they remember to leave the sound turned up on their mobile)
- Take complaints via SMS for those who are averse to confrontation, but not to writing bad reviews
- Follow-up with guests via SMS after their stay with an SMS survey
That certainly isn’t a complete list, but it gives an idea of what’s possible.
Another thing to remember is it’s always important to personalise the messages if you can. Simply including the guest’s name in the message will help them feel more recognised and appreciated. Other details like check-in times, activity reservations or other specific information the guests find useful will only make them feel even better about their stay – and about you when they rate you on their favourite review site.
Have you had a great SMS messaging experience at your hotel? Have you ever been a guest at a hotel that used it? Please share in the comments.
In Hotel Impossible, Anthony Melchiorri saves struggling hotels. It turns out some of the advice he gives them could make you a lot more money. It’s all about marketing and knowing where to get the best ROI. Read the blog to see if you’re spending in the right places.
In many ways, SMS messaging is so commonplace people don’t think about it. They just do it. For example, using SMS for mobile marketing in retail is a fairly standard use case whether you’re a company or the consumer. But there are always exceptions – those who innovate when it seems there’s nothing new to be had. Here are two examples of companies from the US using SMS in ways no one else is – yet.
SMS messaging can be a one-way, or a two-way affair. Sending coupons, sale notifications, or event announcements are all one-way messaging. The recipient doesn’t need to reply in order to use the information sent. In two-way messaging though, recipients can reply to your messages. And that makes it much more interesting, engaging, and potentially a lot more work to manage.
SMS marketing can be a double-edged sword, which is why it's crucial to ensure that each one of your campaigns is well thought out, immaculately spelt, financially accurate (i.e., the prices listed are correct), and, perhaps most importantly, the time and date is 100% accurate. Only once you have triple-checked each one of the components should you then consider sending out a batch.
SMS marketing has seen a huge uplift in popularity in recent years, with big brands investing in the technology to better engage with their customers. There are so many benefits of SMS marketing, from the ability to directly to reach customers with your communications, to the fact that over 80% of SMS texts are read. With over approximately 90% of the world receiving mobile coverage, you’re highly likely to be able to reach your audience, regardless of where they are. SMS marketing is cost effective, and campaigns are quick to develop, in as short a time period as the time it takes to write a text message. This gives you the advantage of being able to communicate quickly, and effectively with customers, reacting to information almost instantaneously. With so many reasons to use SMS marketing, we’ve highlighted four sectors successfully using SMS messaging as case studies to highlight the advantages of investing in the technology.
Online travel and review sites are great for travellers. They are good for hotels too, but they offer a double edged sword. User reviews are unfiltered – that is the travellers can say whatever they like both good and bad. And managing a bad review can be difficult, but how can SMS help?
In order to appeal to new customers and interact with existing ones, businesses are always looking for new marketing methods. Whilst many companies are using traditional and online marketing techniques, these aren’t always effective. Email filtering, for example, means that many recipients may not even be aware that they’ve received contact from your company. As many email hosts provide in-built spam filters, it’s easy for email marketing content to be overlooked or ignored completely. SMS marketing, however, overcomes many of the obstacles associated with online and email marketing. Whilst potential customers may not see your company emails, SMS messages aren’t filtered in the same way. The delivery rate is, therefore, far higher for SMS messages in comparison to marketing emails.
Sometimes bloggers or journalists get a bit carried away. They see some data or fact, and run off to declare there’s a trend you need to know about. The latest one I’ve seen is all about how to reach the generation of “cashless shoppers”. The argument goes that you need to use SMS messaging to reach customers because they are all shopping online – where you obviously can’t pay in cash.
“European travel agents don’t like it”. That’s a statement made by one of the gentleman at my table during the mCommerce Summit earlier this month. He is from Cruise America, a successful RV (camper) vacation rental company based in Arizona, but with 123 locations around the US. We were talking about his company and their online and mobile reservation options.