2 years ago
 

Hotels need to get the (Facebook?) message

At the recent F8 (Facebook Developer Conference), a considerable amount of time (parts of the first and second day keynotes, at least three sessions) was spent on its efforts to improve the technology of messaging.

NB: This is an analysis by Nicholas Ward, co-founder and president of Koddi.

I couldn’t help but get excited about what this means for our industry.

Optimizing the hotel booking experience is about messaging and customer-centricity: clear messaging minimizes the friction that exists in the transactional parts of a booking while. customer-centricity gives guests a sense of experience and creates or improves the relationship.

The service and revenue gap of messaging

Booking and managing a hotel reservation can be time-intensive. A simple reservation change by phone might take 30 minutes to complete, even though the transaction only lasts for a few seconds.

This is an example of the current service gap in messaging, and it’s very real, having happened to me while traveling last week.

The revenue gap looks a little different.

Upsells, upgrades, and bespoke experiences are already allowing hotels to improve margin and revenue per booking.

These are messaged and marketed via confirmation pages and e-mails. They are typically one-way forms of communication, and don’t give the user an opportunity to refine the offer to be in alignment with their needs.

The opportunity of messaging as a platform becomes very interesting if seen as a way to reduce friction in customer communication, improve service, and drive more revenue.

To do this, the messaging platform needs to: be where the users are; offer seamless integration for those users; and be easy for hotels to implement.

So who is set up to deliver?

Facebook and Google are in pole positions.

At F8, Facebook announced Businesses on Messenger, its swing at offering this type of service to businesses and customers alike. It allows users to choose to get their updates via the Messenger platform.

The demos shown for Zulily and Everlane show a customer not only able to track their orders with short, rich snippets in the platform, but also access customer support by simply responding to their last message.

More interestingly, the user could order more products in the same thread. Facebook is aiming to make an order into an experience and a relationship instead of just a one-time interaction.

Google is also in a position to do something impactful in the messaging space.

Through Google Now on my phone or just by typing “my hotels” on my desktop, I have instant access to all of my upcoming reservations.

I can confirm my check in, the hotel’s location, or bring up the original e-mail form my reservation.

This happens automatically as long as the reservation e-mail is formatted correctly.

It’s only a short leap to imagine added functionality here that allows me to easily open a conversation with customer support or to secure an upgrade or additional service.

Hotels are also in position to do messaging really well. When I had to update my reservation last week I first went to the app, then to the mobile site, then to the desktop site. My experience diminished slightly with each step.

Hotels have to “beat” Facebook and Google at messaging to doing something innovative for their users.

Facebook are looking to integrate with more live chat and CRM partners to extend their support for Messenger Business.

And Google are already exposing helpful information subtly through their touch points with users, basing it on the e-mails that originate from the hotel.

These are simply the platforms for messaging, which is the bigger picture as a service and revenue opportunity for hotels.

And messaging is a platform for customer-centricity, which is among the biggest opportunities we have.

NB: This is an analysis by Nicholas Ward, co-founder and president of Koddi.

NB2: Image by Shutterstock

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Viewpoints

About the Writer :: Viewpoints

A founding principle of tnooz was a diversity of viewpoints from across the spectrum. Viewpoints are articles by guest contributors from around the travel and hospitality industries.

 

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