Thorough, accurate and consistent communication is of strategic importance for companies working in the hospitality industry, according to Peter J. Bates, President, Strategic Vision Inc.
The hospitality industry has come a long way technologically in the past few years, and the advances that have been made have had an enormous impact on guest experiences, says Bates. From the ease of researching travel destinations, to the speed and efficiency of booking accommodation, or the influence of sharing opinion on social media, travellers and hoteliers alike have had to abruptly adjust to an increasingly connected world.
Nowhere is this more evident than the way in which we exchange information. Email, text messaging, social media – the speed and volume of communications have grown exponentially. Travellers use messaging to stay in touch with friends, colleagues and family, and they expect the same convenience from businesses. And in an age when people always have their mobile phones with them, the in-room telephone almost seems like a relic of past.
Such change brings its own challenges, especially for independent hotels. How can I manage all these channels? Who will respond to guest inquiries at the speed required? How can we maintain the integrity of our brand image? And how can we ensure that communication is thorough, accurate and consistent?
Maintaining clear, consistent and effective messaging across multiple platforms is impossible without ongoing education, training, quality control and strict guidelines. For independent hotels it is a costlier and often a more challenging undertaking than for large global brands to maintain the timely responses and accuracy that today’s travellers require. For example, in today’s world, what is the SOP for answering an enquiry from a consumer or travel advisor? Is it four hours?
This doesn’t mean independent hotels should resort to automated chatbots. Chatbots are meaningless in the luxury hospitality world because it’s fundamentally about personalisation and the human touch.
While the implementation of communication and messaging technology is relatively simple, implementing systems and processes for receiving and following up on messages is more complex. Successful setup requires defining procedures, responsibilities and on-going training.
Effective and responsive communication is a critical piece of a much larger puzzle. Is this an area in which independent hotels can turn to the consortia they belong to like Leading Hotels, Small Luxury or Preferred for example for support? Regardless of size, all hoteliers should regard it as part of an essential and integrated system of tools and processes for optimising the guest experience.
Peter J. Bates is President, New York-based Strategic Vision Inc, http://www.strategicvision.com