3 Reasons for Digitizing the Customer Experience

By Austin Wheat, Senior Product Manager, Global Enterprise Messaging for Hospitality Technology

Let’s face it, the world is shrinking. Physically, not so much, but virtually, you can now hold it in the palm of your hand. With 70 percent of the global population projected to own a smartphone by 2020—that’s less than four years from now for those of you counting—there’s a lot of pressure on industries to keep up with the demand for digitization. The hospitality industry is no exception.

In order to stay competitive in the travel and hospitality marketplace today, customer service is key. Achieving excellence in providing a superior experience is a game-changing differentiator for leading businesses. With the world going mobile, the best way to service customer needs is to connect with them directly on their smartphone—which they never leave home without. In fact, more than 85 percent of people carry their smartphone with them when they travel. Additionally, 77 percent of the millennial generation reacts more positively to businesses that offer texting communication options.

So if we know customers are traveling with their smartphones, and that most millennials prefer texting, the question remains—what is the best way to engage with them? This is where SMS can make an impact. Aside from our tendency to flinch when we hear the phone ring, people today are busy, and constantly on the move. A verbal conversation isn’t always an option, but text messaging is always immediately available. Considering that 90 percent of text messages are opened within three short minutes of receipt, there isn’t a better way to deliver a high-touch guest experience.

Here are three more reasons from OpenMarket why SMS must be embraced by your hospitality team:

1. Revolutionizes Customer Experience

Did you know there are over three billion mobile subscribers and six billion connected devices in the world today? Now, imagine if your business isn’t linked to one of those numbers. No one wants to get left behind, particularly in the race for customer satisfaction. A sure-fire strategy to ensure you come in last place is to ignore the  disruption affecting the hospitality industry right now. If you have yet to digitize your communication strategies, your competitors already have a leg up.

According to a recent IDC survey, the greatest impact mobile messaging can have in the hospitality and travel industry is attracting and retaining customers. Coming in a close second is improving, or differentiating, the customer experience.

Along with attracting those new customers, SMS is a critical part of the entire customer journey – not just the initial point of purchase. When a guest books a hotel room, you can contact him or her via text with a welcome message and follow-up with more information as their trips nears. Guests can be texted their confirmation code and room number—even day of arrival weather updates. In addition, SMS is highly effective for two-way communication like when guests want to text the front desk for extra towels, a toothbrush, or other concierge requests.

In many ways, SMS opens up the communication channels with convenience and immediacy.

2. Enhances Employee Relations

It’s not just customers that benefit from your company embracing SMS, but your internal team, too. In fact, human resources and IT departments are using mobile to provide employees with resources and services in order to improve and achieve business goals. As the IDC survey reveals, 85 percent of travel and hospitality companies see SMS for business as vital for employee communications. And those businesses looking to improve employee engagement can use SMS as part of their long-term strategy to improve operational communication, training, wellness and employee appreciation—a leading factor in employee satisfaction.

Examples of SMS for the hospitality business include:

  • Mobile workforce management
  • Timesheet processing
  • Employee surveys
  • Password resets
  • Emergency alerts
  • IT system updates

3. Improves ROI & Achieves Company Goals

Through improving customer and employee communication and creating loyalty on both levels, your company goals will organically experience an uptick, and operational efficiencies will increase—all ultimately benefiting your bottom line.

IDC is forecasting that by 2018, the delivery of smartphones and similar connected devices will increase by 44 percent. In short, hospitality and travel, along with virtually all industries, must adapt to incorporate mobile into every corner of their organization.

Now is the time to engage with your guests vis SMS, and don’t get left behind!