Much has been said and written about conversational marketing and how future marketers will be required to master this consumer engagement technique in order to be successful. Clearly, the hospitality industry is well-positioned to leverage the loyalty-building power of conversational marketing through personal engagement with its guests, pre-arrival, during guest stays and post-checkout. Let’s take a deep dive into how your property can use conversational marketing, beat the competition every time and capture more market share.
Business-2-Consumer (B2C) communications continue to evolve and spread globally. Today’s always-on generation expects near-instantaneous communications with businesses and long gone are the days where businesses require consumers to fill out an online email form only to receive a reply in 24-48 hours. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter continue to invest heavily in building out their consumer messaging platforms and capabilities.
Mark Zuckerberg announced at Facebook’s recent F8 developer’s conference that they intend to launch a re-imagined Facebook platform in Q1 of 2020. The new Facebook platform will become more of a “town hall” for open and public communications while it plans to further its development of a private and fully encrypted messaging platform for consumers. Facebook will let users chat across Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp in a completely interoperable manner. Dubbed a “SuperApp,” the Messenger platform will enable over 4 billion consumers to communicate freely and privately with each other as well as businesses, such as hotels.
Messenger and it’s privacy-focused vision for social media must be embraced by every hotelier and is where conversational marketing can provide the marketing edge to win.
Here’s the good news. As an industry-focused around being hospitable and being service-oriented, the hospitality industry already has the right mindset. The industry, after all, is built on creating memorable guest experiences and achieving service levels that encourage guests to write positive reviews regarding their stays. Hoteliers are wired to be of service to their guests.
Now for the bad news. Super Apps such as Messenger will force hoteliers to go beyond the status quo and to allocate internal resources to efficiently engage with a very demanding new generation of consumers, the “I want it now” generation. Direct messages sent to a hotel’s Messenger, Instagram or WhatsApp account will need to be responded too in near real-time and at any time, 24/7/365. But it’s not just about responding to inquiring consumers who want your engagement on their time, this all presents a conversational marketing opportunity for hotels.
One-on-one Messenger conversations should not only be considered as a new way to deliver customer service and to differentiate properties from their competitive sets, but rather as a way to deploy conversational marketing. Building relationships, one-on-one with the ultimate goal of building customer loyalty and growing future business.
Through conversational marketing, specific customer engagement and messaging should be captured, in real-time, and databased into a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system enabling future marketing opportunities. Future Messenger marketing programs, SMS/Text and, yes, email marketing all present the basis for conversational marketing and new revenue generation opportunities for hoteliers. Conversational marketing leverages the human engagement elements, through Messenger, new and traditional marketing automation platforms resulting in loyalty-building opportunities. And as all marketers know, loyalty equates to future business on the books.
Questions every hotelier should begin to ask:
- Is my hotel ready to handle the increasing amount of direct messaging?
- Will my hotel have a budget to hire staff we will need for after-hours and weekend coverage?
- Will we have in-house skills to deploy Messenger and SMS/Text marketing programs?
- How will we track the ROI of our conversational marketing efforts?
- Will my competitors have the resources to leverage conversational marketing and steal my market share?
DJ Vallauri is President and Founder of Lodging Interactive, a full-service digital marketing, social media engagement and reputation management agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry. The Company provides cost-effective Internet marketing services to hundreds of branded and independent properties as well as management companies, restaurants, and spas. commingle:engage, the company’s social media and reputation management division, has established itself as the largest provider of reputation management services for the hospitality industry, handling over 200,000 guest review responses annually.
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