Facebook and Instagram, two of the largest social media platforms with 2.9 and 2 billion monthly active users respectively, are more than just brand awareness or communication tools for hotels. They’re also a revenue generation stream, and for hoteliers the channels allow prospective guests to book a stay while flicking through photos and sending enquiries, without leaving the app.
Despite these statistics, the Sprout Social Index reveals that only 56 percent of travel and tourism brands respond to customer messages on social media, with 40 percent of consumers expecting a response within the first hour, and 79 percent expecting that answer in the first 24 hours. And, 47 percent of those surveyed indicated that responding to customer service questions in a timely manner is the top action a brand can take to get customers to buy from them over a competitor.
Data collected from the 1,600 hotels using HiJiffy’s Booking Assistant in the pre-stay and stay-in phase of Easter holidays (between 15 February and 18 April 2022) points to Facebook’s on-going popularity. Sixty four percent of social media interactions between travellers looking to book hotels for the Easter holidays used Facebook, making it a preferred option over Instagram which was the top choice for only 25 percent of travellers. Google for Business lagged behind at 11 percent, according to statistics gathered by HiJiffy.
With multiple communication channels available, however, it’s not uncommon for hotels to be overwhelmed with direct messages, making it difficult to keep up with the requests coming up.
The result? They end up turning the messaging option off as a result. This can have a significant negative impact on sales, acquisitions, and reputation.
If hotels ignore messages on social media, there is a significant risk of disappointing 79 percent of customers*, according to the Sprout Social Index. Customers expect the hospitality they experience in person to extend to the online world. Artificial Intelligence has become a natural solution, not only to staff shortages but also to enhance the speed of response times to increasing online requests.
Over 1,600 hotels have already integrated both social media platforms into their respective hotel management systems, with leading UK Artificial Intelligence provider, HiJiffy.
Founder of HiJiffy, Tiago Araujo says: “There really has been a shift in the way social channels have become increasingly commoditised and to ignore them is to risk losing the opportunity to not only upsell, but also take bookings from scratch.
“My understanding is a worldwide staff shortage across the hospitality industry means many are ignoring these valuable channels/ opportunities - which is a huge mistake.”
Digital interactions without losing the human touch
Specifically developed for the hospitality industry, HiJiffy’s AI-powered Booking Assistant is integrated with the hotels’ management systems and relevant social media channels and messaging apps including: Facebook, Instagram, Google My Business, and WhatsApp, Line, WeChat, and Telegram.
Using this technology, guests can make reservations quickly from wherever they may be, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without the need for human interaction. More, the AI-powered conversational solution ensures instant response to a range of questions in more than 100 languages with average automation rates above 85 percent.
The Booking Assistant centralises contacts received via the different channels in a single inbox, maximising efficient management of communication with guests, drastically reducing the number of hours that the front-desk teams dedicate to these tasks each month.
Since HiJiffy’s AI-powered chatbot is inherently personal and informal, hotels can adjust the tone of voice to align with brand guidelines, to ensure digital interactions do not come across as forced or robotic, but rather personalised and engaging interactions. Or in other words, maintaining the human touch.
HiJiffy’s conversational AI solution goes beyond the restrictions of text-based interactions of the traditional booking assistants, being the next step in the evolution of the traditional NLP or rule-based chatbots.
HiJiffy enriches interactions with visual UI elements (e.g., buttons; calendars; maps; carousels; images; and more), helping with interactive elements when the conversation isn’t the most effective choice. Everything is done without giving up on providing a one-on-one experience.
Using the combination of text-based conversation and rich graphic elements, HiJiffy is reshaping how hotels - chains or independents - communicate with their guests, achieving higher customer satisfaction while increasing conversion rates.