The simple answer is the guest's smartphone and whichever messaging app he or she prefers, whether that's Messenger, WhatsApp, or SMS.
Until now, many businesses have held back from messaging guests in the belief that it's reserved for chatting with friends and keeping track of the kids' soccer team or dance classes. This attitude is now changing. The investment-focused hotel news portal Hospitality Insights found messaging guests to be one of the top five hotel trends for 2022.
A survey by the NYU Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality found a higher percentage of hotels had adopted guest messaging platforms during the pandemic than many other tech applications. This percentage is expected to climb higher in 2022.
Pre-arrival, guests are looking for two-way communication to ask questions or customise their stay. We can all spot a generic marketing email and most are never opened. A text message in the early stages of the guest journey is much more likely to grab attention. Once on property, messaging is an effective way of delivering and anticipating what the guest wants.
Here's a quick example. Our data analysis tells us the optimum time to ask a guest if they need help with their transport back home at the end of their stay. If you send a message too early, it will be ignored; too late and the guest has already booked her own transport.
Sent at the optimum time, a direct message to the guest is likely to be successful in securing additional revenue. The same principle can be applied over and over again throughout the guest journey.
I was lucky enough to soak up some winter sun in Los Angeles at the start of the year. The American Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) is where investors sharpen their wits and set agendas for the coming year. In one session, Jeff Wagoner, President and CEO, Outrigger Hospitality Group, said that a simple text message to their on-premise guests drove a 60% uptake on a single offer.
Hotels have sometimes shunned technology as they feel that it detracts from a personal service. However, since guests already use messaging as the fulcrum of their daily lives, it makes a lot of sense to harness it to the mutual benefit of the guest, owner and operator.