How to sell more rooms with live chat –  a hotel’s guide into messaging

Spring holiday is coming up, and people are planning weekend trips away to your city. You’re running a small boutique hotel which guests love. It’s authentic and in the middle of the city. Therefore guests love to book your hotel, so it’s busy. 

In the past guests would just call your hotel when they had a question. Nowadays it’s a bit different. They look at your website first to find an answer. If they can’t find the answer, they will drop you an email. It’s pretty convenient for you because you can answer an email whenever it suits you. However, it does feel a bit impersonal and that doesn’t fit well with who you are and the core values of your boutique hotel.

How do you personally connect with your website visitors so that they feel welcome? And how do you keep it all under control without having to sit behind your computer all day? You have a hotel to run after all.

Live chat as a tool to on your website to engage with guests 

Let’s talk about how you connect with potential guests that visit your website. First of all, you want to have a good looking website that represents your hotel. But to connect personally with your website visitors you have to add something called live chat. This is a feature that allows visitors to chat with you or one of your employees directly. A little pop-up on your hotel website will appear, asking if the website visitors need help and telling them they can reach out to you at any time.

Live chat on your hotel website makes sure that website visitors can easily ask questions about whether a room is still available, if towels are included or whether you have some good recommendations to book a restaurant. Basically you bring your website alive like you do on the phone or at the counter.

Automation to help make customer conversations for your hotel manageable

One of the challenges of having live chat installed on your hotel website is that you need to reply to conversations. Good live chat software can help you set opening hours that enable or disable live chat, but when running a great boutique hotel you don’t want to sit behind the computer all day. 

Some live chat providers give you the ability to send and email back when you’re not able to reply to a message instantly. But what you don’t want is having to reply to all live chat conversations after a long day of work.So what to do next? And how to benefit from live chat on your hotel website without all the hassle?

There are several options to get live chat conversations handled without being behind the computer all the time.

Hire a live chat agent

If you don’t want to handle live chat conversation yourself, you can hire a live chat agent to do it for you. There are plenty of external vendors that offer these services. The downside however is that you need to pay the agent for the hours. And those bills can really add up. Another downside is that often such a live chat agent doesn’t have the knowledge and experience that you or one of your employees have. They don’t know the details of your hotel or what a good restaurant is to recommend to your guests. 

Use chatbots to automate live chat conversations 

An alternative to hiring a live chat agent is to make use of automation and chatbots. A chatbot is basically a robot that automatically answers questions. It can have a whole conversation like humans have, but then in an automated way. 

There are different types of chatbots each with their own pros and cons. Although chatbot technology is improving fast, it either is not good enough to really help your customer or very complex and expensive to set up. 

Use a hybrid solution with automated reply messages and smart answer blocks

The third option to still use live chat on your hotel website, but have it manageable and affordable is to work with automated reply messages and smart answer blocks. This is like a hybrid form between hiring a live chat agent and using chatbots to answer live chat conversations.

First let’s start with automated reply messages. This is an automated message that a potential customer receives when they start a live chat conversation. In this message you first of all thank them for reaching out, but also explain that you will come back to them within e..g the next 4 hours. This helps you to group all conversations and answer them all in once e.g. at the end of the day. By setting up a great automated reply message, you manage the expectations of the customer without hurting their experience while being much more efficient in answering all those conversations. 

Smart answer blocks are automatically generated answers you can send to the customer with just a click of a button. With smart answer blocks you don’t have to write answers to most common questions all the time. This saves a lot of time and makes answering to live chat conversations for your car dealership a piece of cake.  

Smart answer blocks work with the same language recognition technology as chatbots do. This technology is called Conversational AI and can recognize what a customer is talking about. Based on that recognition, it proposes an answer. If needed, you still keep the ability to change or personalise the message before sending it.

To conclude, using live chat on the website of your hotel is a great opportunity. It does however require a bit more thinking and just turning it on and seeing what happens, but when done right it will be very effective. Live chat for your hotel helps sell more rooms and make your guests even happier.   

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