Skift Take

Messaging stands to be a two-way, lasting conversation based on guest data, and we expect more and more outreach opportunities to emerge.

Last week we launched the latest report in our Skift Trends Reports service, The Future of Messaging, Part 1.

Below is an extract. Get the full report here to get ahead of this trend.

To take a measure of where and how messaging technology has penetrated aspects of the hospitality vertical, Hyatt’s recent move to engage Chinese markets via WeChat messaging is a helpful start.

“In 2015, we received and responded to more than 50,000 WeChat messages,” says Dan Moriarty, director of social strategy and activation at Hyatt, in a Skift interview. Some 60% of those interactions, he says, revolved around on-site experiences. The other 40% focused on bookings.

“Many guests find WeChat easy to use and a natural gateway to activities information or transactions,” Moriarty says. “We see high engagement with guests around account management, offers, and enrollment in our loyalty program. Some of the functions guests can enjoy on the Hyatt WeChat app also include on-site guest services.”

Important to any consideration of Hyatt, WeChat, and messaging technology in the travel industry, is also the notion that brand–consumer conversations are significantly traveler driven.

“Unlike platforms like Twitter, where conversations are often public and we can jump in when it makes sense, these conversations have to be initiated by guests,” says Moriarty. “So we’re reliant on guests knowing we’re on these platforms. Opportunities we are exploring are integration or initiation points from our other owned digital platforms, such as e-mail confirmations, the Hyatt website, or the Hyatt mobile app. Although there is a lot of growth already on messaging apps, we know there are more guests who we can better care for with increased awareness.”

Considerations of awareness are not confined to hoteliers hoping that travelers can find hotel messaging options. Suppliers are also positioned, via messaging tech, to increase their awareness of guest details and then, ideally, incorporate what they aggregate about their customers into the messaging exchange itself. For hotel groups such as Commune Hotels + Resorts, operating in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, that means bringing in third-party partners to assist.

“Just look at how SMS eclipsed voice communication,” says Niki Leondakis, chief executive officer at Commune, in a recent Skift article. 10 “And start-ups such as Uber are setting a precedent for on-demand communication. Where consumers spend their time has changed; it’s now SMS, messaging apps, and e-mail. By extending our service into these channels, we’re bringing a boutique hospitality experience to today’s consumer in a way they prefer to communicate.”

The strategy underway at Commune — the company announced a merger with Destination Hotels in January 2016 — is fueled in large part by Checkmate, a business that works to supply travel verticals such as hospitality with a more messaging-based customer-experience approach.

“One of the challenges that travelers have time and again is they think they’re talking to a single entity when they talk to hotels,” says Drew Patterson, Checkmate’s CEO, in a Skift interview. “In fact, that hotel is composed of a number of shift-based teams and individuals. You have somebody who might be dealing with the front desk, or another operator that took that call. You have a kitchen that actually has to prep that room-service order. You have a runner that has to take that thing upstairs.”

“As you move between those departments, information gets lost,” says Patterson. “Particularly in the kind of analog world we’re in today … there’s a chain of telephone that takes place.

“The consequence is when anything breaks down or a customer’s expectations are exceeded, it can be a very frustrating conversation,” he says. “One of the consequences of messaging as a means of service delivery, however, is it has this kind of record. If it’s visible to everyone else in the organization, then the business can start to act with a collective intelligence.”

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Tags: commune hotels, hyatt, messaging, research reports

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