Some industries rely on customer engagement more than others. If you work within the hospitality industry, you’ll know this from first-hand experience. Hotels, B&Bs and travel agencies must ensure a pleasant and personalized experience for their guests — which is almost impossible without actually connecting with their guests to ask them what they need. If you’re wondering how online chatbots can help you, this post will show you how.
Luke, aged 22, is on a month-long backpacking trip, and needs to find an affordable hotel in the next city along his journey. Any guesses what he’ll do? Dial a helpline, or open a page on his mobile device and search for “budget hotels in [City]”?
Luke is typical of a rapidly growing number of travellers who spend every day online — and almost always on mobile. Instant messaging is their favoured mode of communication, even when getting customer support. Several studies conducted in recent years have indicated that we are seeing a major shift from customers getting support by phone, to getting it via instant messaging.
Hospitality businesses must optimize their customer support services to reach this new consumer demographic — mobile-reliant millennials like Luke. Providing hospitality is the obvious next step. By using online chatbots, hotels and other hospitality businesses can communicate with guests like Luke through their preferred channel.
Chatbot: “Welcome to Hotel ABC! How can I help you today?”
Luke: “What is your lowest room price?”
Chatbot: “How many guests will be staying?”
Chatbot: “Our room tariffs start at $62 per night for a single bedroom. Our other options are listed below, in ascending order of price per night.”
It isn’t just your guests who want to save time. “Time is money” is an adage that has never been more relevant for anybody running a hotel business. There is a direct correlation between efficiency and profitability, and also between motivation and efficiency. So if your staff perform the same repetitive tasks day in and day out for hundreds of guests, they’re unlikely to be working at their maximum efficiency. However, if you introduce a chatbot to take over basic and repetitive tasks, your staff will actually have the time and space to focus on important tasks that require more attention. They’ll be happier and more productive as a result, and your chatbots will too. In fact, chatbots will mean you can respond to more visitors at once, which will increase the number of leads you generate and the number of bookings you make.
As mentioned earlier, the hospitality industry is built on customer engagement. This means it is essential for hotels and travel agencies to study the habits and preferences of their guests, and use the information to improve their online and offline services and presence. When you introduce a chatbot to your hospitality business, you are giving yourself access to this information 24/7.
For example, supposing you see the following questions regularly coming up in the customer interactions with your chatbot:
What you can learn from these responses is that your cancellation and refund policy might not be clear enough, that the add-ons in your booking section might need to be more prominent, and that you could update your FAQs with information on charges for extra guests.
Therefore, hotels and travel services can learn and build, using the insights they gather from their chatbots interacting with visitors to make ongoing improvements to their products and services, or even revamp their entire presentation.
When your chatbot interacts with visitors, it can send them each custom promotions, recommendations and information, thereby increasing customer interest in your service. Chatbots for hospitality websites and on Messenger platforms are great channels through which you can send out messages like:
Guests are more likely to respond positively to these customised offers and recommendations than to canned messages they receive via email or on your website.