Omni-Channel Customer Engagement Article

The Hotel Industry Leads the Way in Mobile, Digital Customer Interaction

September 07, 2016

When customers engage with certain types of business – think home goods – they generally have a choice of how to connect: a home PC, a landline telephone or a mobile device. Their options are varied, and they can choose their channel of choice. When customers are traveling, however, they are frequently more limited in their choices. If they’re walking through an airport, for example, mobile may be their only choice. Luckily, digital channels are increasingly available through mobile app, so customers can pick the same media they might want at home – SMS customer service, web chat or Facebook (News - Alert) Messenger, for example.

Hotel stays often lead to a number of customer needs, since guests use hotels as “clearinghouses” for all their needs while they’re away: hospitality, conferences, meetings, restaurant meals, entertainment and even laundry and car service. As a result – and because of very heavy competition – many hotel brands are leading the way on mobile-first customer support, according to David Rastatter blogging for Aspect.

“Mobile self-service solutions enable customers to bypass long lines at the front desk and get things done on their own such as checking-in, ordering room service, contacting the valet and getting assistance from housekeeping all from the comfort of their room or while they’re on the go,” he wrote. “Plus, self-service solutions help hoteliers just as much as guests by reducing an influx of calls to the concierge and live staff.”

A recent infographic prepared by Aspect (News - Alert) outlines some trends hotels are setting when it comes to mobile customer care. While 45 percent of travelers report using their smartphones to book activities for a trip (according to data from Trip Advisor), many are going further than that. One third (33 percent) of travelers use their mobile devices to post a review online, and 16 percent use them to discuss their stay on social media (according to Deloitte (News - Alert)). A majority of travelers (61 percent) report that they would like more information that better fits their personal travel preferences (according to Cognizant (News - Alert)), which means there is significant room for hotels to grow when it comes to mobile, digital customer interactions. Brands should be striving to interact with travelers using the mobile and digital options they want and use every day.

“Virtual concierges” are another option: these are smart self-service chat apps that use artificial intelligence to interact with customers in a very natural way. Customers can ask, “What time is checkout?” or “Is the restaurant open?” and receive personalized answers to their questions. Properly designed, these chatbots can even anticipate customers’ needs and personalize their answers. With a little initiative, hotel brands can even design solutions that actively engage hotel guests: encourage them to choose an in-hotel restaurant or entertainment, direct them to the brand’s Facebook page to upload photos if they choose, and advise them how to make the most of guest services.

An added benefit of mobile, digital guest support platforms in the hotel industry is what they can give back to the brand: data.

“[Self-service solutions] can also help gather interaction data for a better understanding of guests’ behaviors and preferences leading to better service and increased cross-sell and upsell opportunities,” wrote Rastatter. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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