Great communication between hotel and guest is the key to developing a strong and long-lasting relationship. If you approach your messaging strategy by providing value to your guests, then you’re going to avoid some of the mistakes that a lot of properties make. You’ll reduce the need for spray-and-pray messaging, you’ll reduce your reliance on OTAs, and you’ll make more money from each and every guest, while simultaneously making them happier and more loyal.
In this article, we’ll break down the types of automated and personalized hotel messages that you can send to guests at specific points in the travel journey. But first, we’ll cover the basics of guest messaging for hotels.
What is a guest message?
Guest messaging is a form of communication between hotels and guests. With the right guest messaging solution, hotels can send guest messages via the digital channels they use most, such as email, SMS, and push notifications via a hotel mobile app. This generates a frictionless line of communication between a hotel and its guests.
How can I send a message to a hotel guest?
Now that we know the basics of guest messaging for hotels, below are 15 examples of hotel-to-guest messages for every step in the travel journey:
How to Write Relationship Building Messages
Early in the relationship, you need to appear to be helpful and to have the guest’s best interest at heart. This is not the time to be doing any hard selling.
1. Welcome Message at Signup
Every good relationship needs to begin on the right foot. When a potential guest decides to provide you with their personal information, you need to start a conversation and set the tone for the relationship. The welcome message is often overlooked but it is one of the most important messages you can implement.
Hopefully, you’ve already set the appropriate expectations with the guest on the signup form. They should know when, how, and what you intend to communicate with them. It’s a good idea to reinforce this expectation within the welcome message and also show them an appreciation for making the choice to trust you with their private data.
As with every message, make sure there’s a call to action or a clear next path. That could be in the form of a link to the hotel booking engine, a specific special offer, or quality content such as the top 10 things people like about your property.
Example message: “Hi [guest name], thanks for signing up to the [hotel name] newsletter—you’re in for a treat! You’ll be the first to receive exclusive hotel offers and updates about [hotel name]! While you’re here, see what past guests have to say about [hotel name] [hyperlink].”
2. Requesting More Information
Relationships tend to get tighter as you learn more about each other. Your ability to serve the guest will also improve if you know more about someone’s habits and preferences. If a guest doesn’t return to your site or book within a couple of days of signing up, it can be effective to reach out proactively and rekindle the conversation. A simple way to do this may be to send a personal message introducing the guest to the GM.
Write it in the first person, as if it’s actually coming from them, and tell the guest a little bit about the GM and the property and simply ask for some reciprocal information in return. Tell the guest how much you would like to host them at the property and that you’d like to learn a little more about them in order to serve them better.
You could start by asking their first and last name (if you don’t already have it), their zip code, and who they would be traveling with (solo, friends, partner, kids, etc). You could ask them if the trip would be for business or pleasure, why they are visiting, what their interests are, do they have special requests, there’s really no limit.
Example message: “Hi [guest name], my name is [GM], the general manager at [hotel name]. I’m delighted that you’ve considered [hotel name] as an option for your next trip to [hotel location]. I’d love to learn more about your travel plans so that I, and our hotel staff, can better serve you. Please feel free to email me personally at [email address].”
How to Write Stay-Related Messages
Once someone has made a booking, the rules of engagement fundamentally change. You can now leverage the fact that the guest has made a decision to stay with you and you can capitalize on the fact that they are likely very excited about their trip.
The other consideration is that the big purchase is out of the way and there’s now an opportunity to gain incremental revenue that improves the guest’s overall satisfaction.
While almost every property sends an automated confirmation message, very few take advantage of the fact that this message typically receives the highest open rate of all messages a property can send. You have a captive audience, be sure to take advantage of it by not just showing the itinerary.
Firstly, there’s always the risk of someone changing their mind or having buyer’s remorse. You can reduce the risk of cancellations by reassuring the guest within the confirmation message that they made a great decision to book with you and that you’re excited about their arrival. This could be in the form of including typical weather conditions, nearby events, and previous guest reviews.
The confirmation message should help set their expectations for their visit. Include check-in times, what they’ll need with them to check-in, parking information, offer useful information such as the fact that they can leave their luggage at the front desk and go on to enjoy the amenities if they arrive early.
Example message: “Thanks for choosing [hotel name]—you’ve made a great choice! Check out our FAQs below for check-in, parking, and additional hotel information. Before your visit, download our hotel mobile app [hyperlink] for express check-in, keyless room entry, and more.”
Once the transaction is made, the purse strings are typically at their loosest. During the booking process, a guest may have wanted to stick to the ocean view room as opposed to splurging on the oceanfront room because it took their total from $800 to $1000.
However, as their stay approaches, it may make sense for you to upsell an existing guest on a nicer room to free up the lower-rate inventory, which may be easier to sell closer to the date of stay. So, offering a room upgrade for $20/night may now become an attractive proposition for the guest.
Other additional services or add-ons can also help generate incremental revenue at the same time as improving the guest’s overall experience. Many properties now offer add-ons such as wine or champagne in the room, breakfast, show tickets, and even early check-in or late check-out when it makes sense.
The pre-arrival message is another opportunity to reiterate many of the things that were included in the confirmation and upsell message. Depending on the length of time between the booking and the date of arrival, there may be an opportunity to send multiple pre-arrival messages. Be sure to continue to share the excitement and anticipation for the stay and keep providing more and more value in what you’re sending each time.
If you’re primarily a drive-in destination, or if they live within a few hundred miles, you could include directions from their home to your property and include commute time. You can also start to make recommendations such as your staff’s top picks for restaurants and attractions. Get an in-depth look at how to write impactful hotel welcome emails.
Example message: “We’re excited to see you soon—we’ve been counting down the days! Review our hotel FAQs [hyperlink] for important check-in and hotel policy information. If you haven’t yet, download our hotel mobile app [hyperlink] for express check-in. Please let us know if you have any questions.”
6. Day of Arrival Pre-Check-in
Anticipation and excitement for the stay is reaching fever pitch on the day of arrival but stress levels are really high, especially for families who are traveling a long distance. This message can really set the tone for the entire stay. It should share in their excitement, set expectations, and provide reassurance.
Reiterate the check-in process, offer a way to cut down on check-in time by letting them provide any required information online, and offer an advantage such as express check-in.
This is also another opportunity to promote what’s going on on and off the property and to provide them with answers to frequently asked questions. In addition, provide the personal touch by giving the contact information of the on-duty manager and encourage them to reach out should they have any issues.
Example message: “We’re ready for your arrival! See [hotel name]’s arrival checklist below to ensure a smooth check-in process and download our hotel mobile app [hyperlink] for express check-in. If you have any special requests before your arrival, please let us know.”
7. During Stay Satisfaction Survey
Continue the conversation with a personalized message from the manager and reiterate how important it is to you that the guest is comfortable and satisfied. This may be an opportunity to send a short survey asking about the check-in process, the friendliness of the staff, and the cleanliness of the room.
Again, provide personal contact information in the event that there are any issues but also proactively reach out to anyone indicating that there is a problem in the survey in order to try to rectify the problem and prevent things from getting worse.
Example message: “Hi [guest name], we hope your stay at [hotel name] has exceeded expectations. If there’s anything that you believe we could improve on, we’re ready to hear from you. Answer this short performance survey [hyperlink] and you’ll receive 10% off your entire meal at [hotel restaurant].”
8. Pre-Check-Out Upsell
Depending on the length of stay, you may want to give the guest the opportunity to extend the stay by a night or two and/or offer a late check-out. Also, this is the last chance you’ll have to head off any issues prior to the guest leaving.
Example message: “We hope your stay has exceeded expectations. Looking to stay an extra night or two? Respond to this message or download our hotel mobile app [hyperlink] for stay extension options.”
9. Post-Stay Thank You/Survey
First and foremost, this should be a message that conveys your sincere appreciation for the guest staying with you. Don’t jump straight into asking a bunch of questions.
A mistake many properties make is to send a lengthy survey that overwhelms the guest. Keep it as simple as possible with a yes/no answer to the question “Would you want to stay with us again in the future?” or “Would you recommend our property to a friend?” Depending on the responses to this question, you can send the guest down a different path.
For guests who indicate there was a problem, try to get more details and have someone reach out to the guest. For guests that are positive, see if you can get them to share the highlight of their stay with you. Tools like Flip.to make this really easy.
Another approach is to ask three simple questions:
- “What should we keep doing?”
- “What should we stop doing?”
- “What could we have done to improve your stay?”
The insights you will gain from these responses are far more valuable than a bunch of “Rate us from 1-10” type responses.
10. Post-Stay Resell
Though the primary objective of these messages is to see a future stay, they should always start out by thanking the guests for their previous stay. When you send a message that is nothing more than an “ask” it can seem one-sided and doesn’t nurture the relationship. Once you’ve established the tone, you can move on to business.
For all guests, it’s simply a good idea to encourage them to come and stay with you again. You can even make this easy for them by showing them rates for the same room for similar dates to what they booked this year.
Example message: “Hi [guest name], thank you for choosing [hotel name] for your recent stay in [hotel location]. Next time, book through the official [hotel name] website to receive exclusive perks and extras like free valet parking and free bike rentals. See our latest best available rates [hyperlink].”
How to Write Revenue-Generating Messages
If you’re tracking guests properly, and you’ve gained the appropriate permission to do so, there’s a massive opportunity to shift your overall communication strategy away from demographic targeting and towards behavioral targeting. This methodology is more cost-effective, more personalized, and drives much higher engagement, which leads to more revenue and happier guests.
11. Website Visit
Rather than randomly sending generic messages to everyone on your list, pay attention to when people come back into the shopping phase. If someone for whom you’ve collected an identity shows up on your website, pay attention to what they’re doing. What dates are they searching for, what content are they looking at? Who is traveling with them? From here, you can tailor content to them that will help them make a decision to book.
In the case of Fuel’s Guest Messaging Solution, we use machine learning to determine what content will be most helpful for the guest and be the most likely to drive a conversion.
Example message: “Thanks for considering [hotel name] for your next stay in [hotel location]. Thinking of taking a fall trip with the family? Add our Fall Spectacular [hyperlink] offer to your stay, which includes free hot cocoa and s’mores by an open fire, and complimentary transportation to and from the best fall foliage spots in [hotel location].”
12. Cart Abandonment
This is a no-brainer and should be one of the first triggers you implement. Be sure to personalize the message and make it easy to resume the search by showing the rates and having a link that leads someone deep into the booking engine with their dates and room pre-selected.
This message should be seen as a sales tool. Not only is it a way to sell the value proposition of your property vs. the competition, but it’s also an opportunity to mitigate the risk of someone booking your property via a third party.
Example message: “Your room is still available for the dates [calendar dates]. Book through the official [hotel name] website today and enjoy late checkout and complimentary drinks at check-in!”
13. Birthday Messages
We all get bombarded with emails throughout the year, but we tend to pay a lot more attention to the personalized deals that get sent to us as a birthday “gift”.
Think about it this way, 1/12 of your entire database is going to have a birthday this month. If you’re sending a monthly message, then that segment of people would be a lot more likely to open your special offer if it’s personalized and acknowledges their birthday in the subject line. Making something feel exclusive gives the guest the feeling of being special and this creates a deeper connection between them and your property.
Example message: “Happy birthday [guest name]! We think you deserve a special birthday treat, so we have an exclusive offer just for you. Enjoy a special discount on your next stay at [hotel name] + a free meal at [hotel restaurant]. Slice of cake included!”
14. Event Notification
If someone stayed with you to see a specific band or attend a specific event, be sure to let them know the next time that the same event is occurring in your area. You can also have some fun and build a deeper relationship with the guest if you make the content super-relevant to the subject matter. For example, if someone attended a local comic con, show photos of cos-players and show that your property appreciates the culture by including carefully crafted Star Wars puns.
Example message: “Your favorite band is heading back to [hotel location] for two nights! Last year they rocked the roof off. This year, critics have described their tour as “a fist-pumping good time”. Interested? Check room availability at [hotel name] for overnight accommodations [hyperlink].”
15. Anniversary of the Booking
For our clients, this has proven to be a great revenue generator. It will likely also save you money on advertising because it helps you short-circuit the typical shopping and booking cycle and reduces the risk of someone booking a competitor or via an OTA.
Make sure that you play upon nostalgia, if you collected the guest’s highlights or feedback from their previous stay, be sure to show that front and center in this message. Also, focus on reducing friction by making it as easy as possible for the guest to rebook by showing rates for the same room and similar dates as last year and giving them multiple opportunities to jump into the booking process.
You may also want to highlight any new improvements or changes at the property to encourage them to come and experience something new.
Example message: “You told us you loved [hotel name]’s pool features during your stay last year. We’re excited to announce we’ve extended our pool deck just in time for this year’s vacation season! Be the first to enjoy our new pool and amenity features by planning your next visit [hyperlink].”
More Pro Tips
- Make the messages as personalized and human as possible. It’s easy for messages to come across as sterile and generic. Try to use the guest’s name in correspondence as much as possible and also try to put the personality of the staff in the messages by showing photos of real employees and writing content with a conversational tone.
- Identify new ways to improve employee satisfaction and loyalty using guest messaging software data.
- One size does not fit all. Always consider the source of the booking and create variants of each triggered message where it makes sense. For example, someone who books through an OTA should receive a different message than someone who books directly from your own website. Also, consider the length of stay and how far in advance the booking was made because these should both impact the timing and frequency of the messages you send to an individual.
- Consider the method of communication based on the guest’s preference and the context. For example, an SMS message may be preferable and more effective while the guest is on property. Just be sure to ask permission and set expectations in advance. Learn how to succeed with SMS campaigns for hotels.
- To be successful, you must always remember to operate with the guest’s best interest in mind. When you lose sight of that and start sending messages that benefit you at the expense of the guest, it will all fall apart.
- Be sure to remove folks from your generic emails when they are actively engaged in a personalized/triggered campaign. You want every message to be deliberate and focused on moving the relationship forward. Why confuse things by sending them a special when they’ve already booked?
- The benefit of automated messages is that once set up, they reduce the workload of your marketing team. However, this comes with the risk of triggered messages breaking at some point in the future. Be sure to have someone go through and test these messages on a frequent basis to ensure that the triggers are working, that the content isn’t out of date, and that the guest is receiving the best possible experience.
- Offer your guest the best deal going, always. This is a non-negotiable rule in any service business. You may not always have the best price (OTAs can be tricky), but your “deal” should always be the best. This is not to say your daily rate will be the lowest (though it should). This does mean that the value a guest receives by booking directly is always the best. A guest who books directly should have a higher experience such as a free welcome gift, later check-out, free parking, or reduced resort fees. Think about your guests and always strive to make them glad they booked with you.
The value of sending triggered messages is that you’ll develop better relationships with your guests. You will move away from sending monthly or bi-weekly messages to your entire database that is only relevant to a small section of your database and you’ll see that you are able to communicate with individual guests on a much more frequent basis and in a manner that nurtures more frequent and more enjoyable stays.
If you want to get started implementing these effective message triggers but don’t know where to begin, reach out to Fuel Travel. We offer the most advanced guest messaging software available that can help take your messaging campaigns to the next level.