Why Website Chat Is A Growing Trend With Hotels
If you haven’t noticed yet, website chat is really sweeping the business scene these days.
It first started gaining traction in 2016 when Facebook made it possible for businesses to run their own bots through the Messenger app. The billions of users already using Messenger were an audience ripe with connection possibilities, and there are now over 18,000 business chatbots on the app.
The chatbot is still a relatively new technology, but it’s bracing for rapid and significant advancement in the next few years. One day soon, chatbot communication may become so refined that clients and site visitors may not even be able to tell that they’re talking to a bot rather than an actual human.
But are chatbots a good fit for the hotel industry?
There are certainly some concerns. After all, it’s often the personal touch that makes all the difference, especially for boutique hotels. However, it’s important to distinguish between personal and personalized.
When it comes to customer service it's important to distinguish between personal and personalized.Click To Tweet
Chatbots may not be super personal in the one-to-one communication sense. But they do make it possible to personalize guests’ experiences in ways that would otherwise take a lot more time and manpower. They make it a lot easier for guests to get help booking their stays and find immediate answers to their questions. They make it possible to follow up with site visitors who have abandoned their bookings online and guide them to complete the process. They can even be multi-lingual to serve a wider variety of guests. Expedia and Booking.com are already offering chatbot services like this.
Chatbots can also personalize guests’ experiences during their hotel stay.
An awesome example of this is Edwardian Hotels. They launched their bot, Edward to provide 24/7 service to their guests from giving advice about local activities to arranging for extra amenities. Aloft Hotels have also developed a fun Emoji Room Service bot that allows guests to choose from a menu of emoji combinations that indicate certain services and amenities they would like delivered to their rooms. It’s as easy as sending a text, and it adds some nice elements of fun and convenience.
Speaking of extra amenities, establishing this convenient, 2-way communication connection is a great way to upsell the hotel’s various point-of-sales. Chatbots can discover the guest’s preferences ahead of time — during booking, for example — and make personalized amenity suggestions during their stay. This can generate significant additional revenue for the hotel while simultaneously upping the “wow factor” for guests — all through a completely automated process.
Smaller hotels and other businesses may find that it is easier and makes more sense for them to start out taking advantage of chatbot technology on an already existing platform, like Facebook Messenger. Visitors can access it directly on the business Facebook page and send messages the same way they would on a friend’s page. The chatbot guesses what visitors may be looking for by matching keywords that are typed into the message line with specific business information that is programmed into the bot. So, if a hotel owner programs the word “pet” into the bot, visitors asking about pet-friendly accommodations will receive responses explaining the types of rooms available, pet fees, and special considerations that are applicable to their situation.
The downside to Facebook Messenger chatbots for hotels is that there isn’t as direct access to the booking system on the hotel’s website. This makes it more difficult to follow up with page visitors. Hotels also lose out on upselling opportunities during a current guest’s stay, as customized bots like Edward and Emoji Room Service really work better as part of a hotel’s website. Facebook is a good place to get the feet wet, but a customized chatbot ultimately works much better for the hotel industry.
The key is that chatbot technology is now accessible to a wide variety of types and sizes of hotels — and that’s an amazing thing!
Whether on a Facebook page or a website, they allow all kinds of businesses to make more meaningful connections with prospective and current customers. The unique benefits to hotels are just icing on the cake!
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