The Hospitality Industry is Shifting to Text Messages to Communicate with Guests
Your next hotel’s concierge might not be in the same time zone as your room. Or sentient.
Larger chains and smaller inns are moving past the custom of having guests press “0” on a landline phone to ask for that extra towel. Instead, properties have turned to text messages. That means requests could get answered by someone in another state, a bot or a digital spider monkey.
Photographer Andrew Gallery requested a bottle opener and extra glasses at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel in California via the hotel’s Chat Your Service app during a recent stay. “I just feel like it’s some happy person who is down to help,” says Mr. Gallery, who lives in Los Angeles, of the help he received. “But I’m not 100% sure if it’s people on the other end.”
The Loews uses off-site employees 2,000 miles away to answer texts or phone calls, says manager Lara Loewl, who oversees a staff of 14 agents at the company’s engagement center in Franklin, Tenn. Most guests never think to ask who is answering them, she says.
These staffers field common requests, including housekeeping or restaurant reservations, within minutes, without involving the hotel’s concierge team. The team isn’t quick to share their actual location. “We always say we’re an extension of the front desk,” she says.
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