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Author: Hotelway

About chats and waiting in lines

We are a society of instant gratification. For better or worse, we have grown accustomed to receiving exactly what we require, instantaneously. The same applies to customer service. No one wants to wait in line. To be fair, there is no time in history in which people enjoyed waiting in lines. However, only in recent times has technology made near-instant service possible.

David Maister discusses the psychology of waiting in line in his 2005 article [1]. He posits that while people’s perceptions about waiting vary extensively across cultures, classes and the types of services, waiting significantly affects the overall image of the service. Waiting can cost purchases, a weakened public image and lost repeat customers. Many service management experts agree that how waiting is managed is crucial to the overall customer experience. Many would also agree that excellent customer service requires near-zero waiting times.

How long will guests wait on your hotel chat for a response? Fifteen seconds? Two minutes? Or how about instantly? According to Arise Virtual Solutions [2], most people choose chat over other channels of communication precisely because of its quick response times and ease of use. According to their 2017 study, 84% of respondents will abandon a chat if the answer takes more than two minutes. Moreover, over half do so in less than a minute. Instant replies seem better and better.

How on earth does a hotel do that? Hotels are quite unfortunately known for their slow response times, and frankly outdated channels of communication, with most hotels still using only phones and email for guest communication. Furthermore, hotels are unique from each other, meaning that just hiring a cheap “call centre” to handle all online communication simply will not do enough for guests. Each hotel has its policies, services and quirks that make learning them difficult for a non-staff member to handle efficiently.

We also did the math to this question: What is needed for a medium-sized hotel to answer all online chats:

– In less than 45 seconds

– From 8am to 10pm

– Every day, including weekends and holidays

Best case scenario, you need four to five employees who are ready to drop a phone call, guest conversation and all else to reply to chats. Someone for the mornings, evenings, weekends and holidays. Perhaps you need an extra pair of eyes and hands for the busiest times of day. That is not a small investment. But that is not the best way to do it, either.

We at Hotelway can make it happen. With our hospitalty-specific chatbot we can provide the exact same value for your hotel at a fraction of the cost. We provide instant answers to guests, while promoting sales and additional services. Our bot provides friendly and efficient service while taking care of over 70% of your guests’ questions.

Instantly.

[1] https://www.columbia.edu/~ww2040/4615S13/Psychology_of_Waiting_Lines.pdf

[2] https://www.arise.com/resources/blog/customer-service-frustration-series-chat-response-times

Why do hotels use so few channels?

According to our survey, 78% of hotels do not have any other channels for guests to reach them aside from phone
calls and emails. Furthermore, 67% of them could not consistently answer their phone in less than 45 seconds and emails in less than 90 minutes. Guests will not wait.

Travellers’ needs and expectations today are vastly different from what they were even 15 years ago. The world is so seamlessly connected, and everything can be done with a few taps on a phone; of course, people come to expect the same from hotels. How can we achieve this?

Your hotel’s website needs a chatbot

When consumers are asked about their preferred ways of communication with service providers in any industry, a live online chat is the consistent winner. Let’s face it: people do not really enjoy phone conversations and email is seen as quite slow and outdated.

Furthermore, one could say that even the age of websites is over in a sense; with a live chat and an advanced chatbot helping you, you do not necessarily need to click on any links or search for anything by yourself. You can simply ask the questions you need an answer to.

When looking for and booking a hotel room, a potential guest visits 51 pages on average. That is quite a lot. One could argue that a chat service that does all the information gathering for guests is a serious competitive advantage.

This is where a chatbot comes in handy. In our experience the questions asked by guests are roughly 70% the same across the board. Even a basic chatbot can easily be programmed to answer over half of all the questions. Remember in the beginning when we said that hotels struggle to even answer the phone consistently? A chatbot answers instantly.

A chatbot needs to be show your brand and level of quality

Outsourcing of chat services has often failed. Why is that?

One reason might be that the information that these ‘call centers’ have about their client is insufficient. The cooperation has not been what it should have been, which leads to customers feeling like the chat is useless or slow. A chat service does not really serve its purpose if the most common answer is “I don’t know, contact the hotel.” This is quite common when hotels – or any other organizations – want to get rid of the tedious aspects of customer care. However, great customer care comes from the little things – such as inquiries about the parking situation – answered instantly.

A chat service like no other

That is where our chatbot, Sam, steps in. We are the only ones providing a hospitality-specific chatbot that is built, maintained and continually teached by industry professionals. We build an extensive database about everything there is to know about our client. Information is added whenever we encounter
new questions and information.  Sam can handle more and more conversations on its own every single day.

Furthermore, what chat services rarely do is increase your sales. Chats mostly work as troubleshooting
services today. What we do is more about pushing your service at every touchpoint. Customer asks about wine to their room, we offer snacks to go with them.

This is what we want to emphasize: we can ease the strain on your staff by handling most of your guest care but in a profitable way. We are not a call center.

Hotelway chosen as the most promising hospitality startup in Europe

HITEC is the largest annual hospitality technology event in Europe, which took place in Mallorca this week. It gathers over a thousand hospitality experts and hotel top management.
During the event is organized a competition called Entrepreneur20X (e20X), which introduces the most innovative startups the hospitality technology industry has to offer.

This year the winner was Hotelway, headquartered in Finland.
Hotelway provides guest communication services to the hotels. The main service is the guest chat. AI-based based bot and the human agents will reply to the guest messages.  “Hotels don’t usually have time to answer to their guests fast enough. We will do that on their behalf”, says the CEO and founder of Hotelway, Hannu Vahokoski. “In addition, all our Guest Care Specialists are hospitality experts, who have experience from studying or working in hotels. That is extremely important in the hotel industry, which known for the high brand images”, Vahokoski adds.

” Hotelway was selected as the winner because they are genuinely solving a real problem in hotels. In addition, they concentrate on what is the most important in the hospitality: people. They are doing this with a smart technology utilization, which will help to scale this service to all Europe”, says Nick Price, one of the expert judges of the competition. Price has a wide experience from the hospitality industry, and has for example acted as a global CIO of Mandarine Oriental hotel chain.

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