The Hotel Merkur in Baden-Baden sets an example
After weeks of closures, hotels have reopened and holiday destinations in Germany, Austria and Switzerland are well booked for the summer season. The hotel industry is slowly starting to recover. The challenge now is to continue to provide excellent service with fewer resources, while also minimizing contacting guests as much as possible during check-in and check-out, guest services and communications.
The current crisis could be an opportunity for hotels to reinvent themselves and drive digital strategies forward. Especially in times of great uncertainty and social distancing, technology can help to be available for potential guests, to stay connected and provide a good contactless guest service. Digitization is becoming a critical success factor more than ever during the crisis.
Hotel Merkur optimizes guest communication
We live in a world where we are used to get information, products or services quickly and conveniently. We have been spoiled by Google, Airbnb, Uber, etc. Hotel guests want easy access to information and services, they want quick answers. Hotels should be accessible on a variety of channels relevant to them: website, social media, and messaging apps. If potential hotel guests shall book on the hotel website, then it is even more important to make oneself accessible for questions and requests directly on the hotel website and to assist quickly.
With this in mind and with the aim of improving communication with guests, Hotel Merkur in Baden-Baden introduced a guest chat last year. The family-run 3-star superior hotel has thus enabled guests to chat with the hotel on the website, in Facebook Messenger and during their stay via the DialogShift mobile chat app.
A chatbot takes over the initial contact and answers frequently asked questions, automatically forwards booking requests to the booking system and passes on questions to employees* if it doesn't know the answer. Even before the crisis, the chatbot has helped reduce workload at the front desk, with around 70% of inquiries answered automatically, while email and phone inquiries have declined. With an IBE conversion rate of 18 - 33%, i.e. every 5th to 3rd chat user is forwarded to the booking system, chat is not only a communication channel for Hotel Merkur, but indirectly also a tool that helps generate direct bookings.
During the Corona crisis, the chatbot became an important tool to answer potential guests' questions quickly and easily and to build trust through accessibility and open and proactive communication. People are planning their next vacation and trip, but are still unsure and have many questions. They find out about measures and changes on hotel websites. For example, has the wellness area reopened and what is there to look out for? What offers are there in the restaurant?
If this information is easily accessible on the hotel website or communicated proactively, it builds trust among potential guests. An AI-controlled chatbot on the hotel website can be a great help here.
Guests want to communicate easy and efficiently with hotels. When looking for information or assistance, nothing is simpler than asking a question in your own words and getting exactly the answer you're looking for. According to the American Marketing Association, customers who use a website chat are three times more likely to purchase a product or service from the same website than those who do not.
One of the main advantages of a hotel chatbot is the ability to respond to multiple guests on multiple channels in multiple languages simultaneously. A robot does not take breaks, works around the clock and can communicate in multiple languages. Hotel Merkur's chatbot speaks more than 100 languages.
Automation is not there to replace personal service, but to support it. Automation relieves employees and frees up time for more valuable service activities.
In addition to shortening wait times, good and engaging communication with guests is more important today than ever. If guests receive short and incomplete answers, the chances of them booking with the hotel decrease significantly. When communicating with potential customers on the website, it is crucial to provide a complete and engaging response. For example, the chatbot on Hotel Merkur's site doesn't just give answers. It charmingly guides the conversation, providing additional information, recommendations and insider tips.
Many processes in the hotel have been or are currently being changed, from cleaning procedures to contactless guest service. We're going to have to live with the new-ish corona virus for a while, and everyone, hotel guests and hotels alike, are adapting to this new reality. Guest chat helps hotels be accessible to guests at relevant points and make guest communication and service efficient and contactless. And the beauty of it is that many guests accept it gratefully, because they have long been used to communicating via chat.
DialogShift facilitates and improves communication between hotels and hotel guests with holistic and AI-powered chat solutions. Hotel guests can chat with the hotel on the website, via messaging platforms, apps or the digital guest folder - hotel staff is relieved by automatically answering recurring questions. Hotels can increase direct bookings by making themselves available for questions on the website and booking requests from the chat are automatically forwarded to the reservation system.