Why call when you can type? In the age of OTAs providing customer service via Twitter and airlines helping with bookings via Facebook Messenger chat bots, AccorHotels UK & Ireland are jumping on the new-age comms wagon by letting guests communicate with hotel staff using WhatsApp.
Accor guests can now contact reception or other hotel services by simply sending a message via WhatsApp – one of the world’s most popular messaging apps with over 1.3 billion users worldwide. The service sees guests given a dedicated mobile phone number with their room key card on arrival. A member of staff monitors requests which they can immediately respond to, whether for room service, housekeeping, or a restaurant reservation.
Because guests use their own mobile phones to message the hotel, they can make requests wherever they are in or out of the hotel – before or during their stay.
The service is now available in around 90% of the group’s hotels that are run from the mobile operating system introduced last year, and will be rolled out further at selected hotels in the portfolio. In the hotels where it was first trialled it has generated positive feedback from guests, for whom WhatsApp is an increasingly important method of communication.
“Guests want to communicate using the methods they are most familiar with”
Thomas Dubaere, COO of AccorHotels Northern Europe, commented: “Guests want to communicate using the methods they are most familiar with. The use of WhatsApp has increased exponentially over the past few years and is a platform most of our guests tell us they feel very comfortable using, so enabling them to use it to order room service or ask reception a question is a logical step to ensuring they have the best possible experience in our hotels.”
The move marks the latest phase in AccorHotels’ introduction of mobile technology to improve the guest and employee experience. In 2017 it began to run the ibis UK network from mobile devices, with employees welcoming and helping guests as well as managing their schedules from an app on their smartphones. AccorHotels also recently implemented digital technology that allows guests to order food and drink, process payment and be sent receipts from the same platform via their smartphones.
“It is much more guest-friendly… much more efficient”
Carla Milovanov, senior vice president, digital and technology, AccorHotels Europe and Northern Europe, added: “Traditionally guests have to read the directory in their rooms with one number for housekeeping, another for the gym, another for the restaurant and so on. This process simplifies communication for guests so they just have one number for all their requests.
“Because we have already introduced mobile technology to allow staff to run the hotel from smartphones or tablets, staff monitoring WhatsApp requests can action them across all the hotel’s services, wherever they are in the building. It is much more guest-friendly and a much more efficient way of managing requests.”