Good news for anyone who dislikes talking to hotel staff about service requests. But let’s hope that hotel companies don’t abuse the privilege and have AI spamming guests with messages throughout a stay.
Hilton said Tuesday it is jumping into the new era by pledging to enable guests to make requests by text at all of its 7,000-plus hotels by the end of 2024. Guests will be able to send messages via the Hilton Honors app, by smartphone via SMS, WhatsApp, and other platforms before and during their stays.
Texting customer service requests has become a standard experience in retail, finance, and other sectors. But some major hotel groups still require phone or face-to-face interactions.
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts first allowed franchisees to enable basic guest messaging in late 2022, though it piloted on-property texting with its brand Microtel as far back as 2015. Last October, it began rolling out upgraded functionality, via vendor Canary Technologies, to its more than 6,000 U.S. and Canadian hotels, allowing guests to use SMS texting rather than an app, with AI to answer the most commonly asked questions.
IHG has recommended its franchisees and owners consider adopting such a service, and more than 400 have so far.
But so far, other hotel groups haven’t followed.
Hilton is mandating guest messaging across properties. It’s using software from the vendor Kipsu to enable the service.
Many Hilton hotels will recognize if a guest is a member of its loyalty program and what tier status they have in the program. A common welcome message via the mobile app acknowledges a guest’s loyalty status by tier and invites a guest to ask any questions.
For hotel owners, part of the appeal of the new system is promised operational efficiency. Hotel staff may be able to triage messages to better prioritize requests and delegate team members in order of urgency.
General managers and owners can also see patterns in requests, helping to pinpoint trouble spots, such as a repeated pattern of queries for a particular service not being delivered properly.
“At Hilton, we have had a long-term commitment to digitally transform the travel experience and create a more seamless journey for guests, from booking to billing,” said Chris Silcock, Hilton’s president, global brands and commercial services.
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