Today’s consumer is becoming quite accustomed to getting what they want, when they want it. We are, indeed, an “on demand” society.
Collectively, we have less and less patience for delays in communication and clunky processes. And this is evident in the way that customer service through SMS or texting has become increasingly common.
Your guests may have different expectations today than they did in the past. They want to be able to get in touch with you easily, and know they will receive instant feedback. When you deliver customer service by text, you’re helping to elevate your guest’s experience to rival what they would experience at a traditional hotel.
Texting is quickly taking over as the preferred method of contact, especially among younger millennials who are using the shared economy, including choosing short-term rentals over other types of accommodations.
As a vacation rental manager, think about how you can enhance your guest experience through texting. Sending your guests:
- Check-in reminders
- Alerts when their rental is ready
- Lock box code as an extra courtesy
- Weather forecast or any traffic issues that may affect them
In addition, you may check in at some point during their stay to make sure they’re comfortable. And if your guests are having trouble with directions or any other issues they will feel better knowing they can text you.
There are many ways you can be using SMS as part of your customer service delivery. That being said, there are some things you will want to keep in mind when communicating with your guests via text.
We’ve laid out some general best practices here for you.
MyVR’s best practices for customer service through text
Mind your tone. Messages can easily be misinterpreted via text. Before you send a text message to a guest, read it over carefully, to ensure you are coming across as friendly. Adding in “please” and “thank you” where appropriate can go a long way. If you receive a text from a disgruntled guest and they have an issue that you believe is unfair, do not impulsively respond. Take a deep breath, take a minute to cool down, and then take your time responding. Never reply to a guest’s text in an angry moment!
Use proper punctuation and watch your spelling. When texting with guests in a professional manner, be more formal than you would when texting your friends. Spell out words instead of abbreviating them and use proper punctuation. Even if the guest you’re texting with doesn’t pay any attention to their own spelling or use of capital letters, you should keep it professional.
Know when to text versus when to call. There are certain things that are better discussed with an old-fashioned phone call rather than over text. If you need to make a cancellation, or if there’s any issue that could be considered bad news for the guest, a phone call would be better than a text.
Don’t overdo it with messages. Remember that your guests are on holiday—they don’t want to be bombarded by texts all day long. Be mindful of the time of day you’re messaging them and do your best to stick to standard 9am-5pm business hours if possible. If there is something important that you need to notify your guests of later in the evening, 7 or 8pm would still be seen as appropriate. To be safe, should any issue arise, ask your guests how late you may text them, or if they would prefer a different form of communication (email, perhaps) for after-hours issues.
While texting is a great tool to get a hold of guests during their stay, it is best to limit your conversations over text to their time at your vacation rental property. After a guest departs, return to email as the primary form of communication in order to keep a professional relationship and to document your conversation in case an issue may arise. To keep track of these threads, consider employing property management software that centralizes your listings, inquiries, communications and more all in one place. A useful tool to increase performance and stay organized!
Set boundaries around communication. As important as it is to be available to your guests, set up some parameters so that you don’t become a slave to your phone. Make it clear that you will be available via text, email, and phone during a certain time frame and how to contact you outside of those hours, in the event of an emergency. This would be great information to include in your guest welcome book as well. That way, you are setting reasonable guest expectations, and taking some pressure off of yourself, while still being available and fair.