4 Ways to Wow Hotel Guests With Pre-Arrival Communication

Bryan Michalis
Bryan Michalis
Updated
June 24, 2024
/
Published
June 24, 2024
4 Ways to Wow Hotel Guests With Pre-Arrival Communication

Don’t wait until guests wheel their luggage into your lobby to start communicating with them. The weeks leading up to a guest’s stay are incredibly influential. What you say—or don’t say—can affect guests’ opinions about your hotel long before they set foot on your property.

Whether it’s an email, text, AI chatbot or all three, creating a pre-arrival guest communication strategy is a game-changer for guest satisfaction and hotel revenue. Keep reading to learn helpful tips and tools to optimize the guest experience and streamline operations.

Why Communicate With Hotel Guests Before Their Stay?

Guests don’t need to be on property to receive exceptional customer service. Let’s look at the biggest benefits of pre-arrival communication for hotel guests:

     
  • Improve the guest experience: Impressing guests should start long before check-in. Emails and texts that address guests by name and acknowledge preferences, like room requests or dietary restrictions, show attention to detail that differentiates your hotel.
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  • Share information: Communicating essential booking details and helpful tips about the local area, like attractions and restaurant recommendations, will enhance your guests' overall experience and leave a lasting positive impression.
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  • Resolve potential issues: Reaching out to guests before they arrive lets you address special requests or concerns, like room location preferences or accessibility needs. This way, you get ahead of potential issues before they can turn into problems.
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  • Provide clarity on hotel policies: Pre-arrival communication should include important policies, like cancellation, check-in/check-out and more. Clearly state fees and terms and require a guest signature or checkbox to reduce chargeback fraud.
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  • Upsell: Pre-arrival communication is a prime opportunity to generate incremental revenue. Feature F&B packages, spa treatments, room upgrades, early check-in and late checkout options, snack baskets and more in emails and texts to increase guest spending.
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  • Build guest loyalty: Communicate with guests before their stay through personalized messaging, exclusive deals and engaging content to foster trust and repeat business.

Infographic: 6 Reasons to Communicate with Hotel Guests Before Their Stays

4 Tips for Effective Pre-Arrival Guest Communication

Every message you send shapes a guest’s perception of your hotel and their upcoming stay. But the goal is not just to communicate—it’s to create positive guest experiences that translate into brand loyalty and repeat business.

Here’s how to create effective hotel guest communication—while minimizing your team’s workload with automation and artificial intelligence (AI).

1. Go Beyond the Confirmation Email

Booking confirmation emails are the first touchpoint after guests make a reservation—but don’t let it be your last. Send a series of informative and engaging emails leading up to guest stays to enhance their overall experience:

     
  • Welcome email: Include details like check-in times, amenities, cancellation policies, and special requests. Be proactive — ask if they have preferences or questions to set a standard of excellence early on.
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  • Room upgrade offer: Some guests may be enticed by elevated accommodations. Highlight the benefits of the upgrade — like ocean views or more space — and make it easy to pay with a simple click or call.
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  • Local area guide email: Why make guests Google when you can share insider tips? Personalize restaurant and attraction recommendations to guests’ interests: family-friendly spots, business lunches, romantic dinners, and more.
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  • On-site amenities/upsells: Showcase your hotel's best offerings — wine tastings, massages, off-site excursions, indulgent packages — and give guests a fast and easy way to prepay.
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  • Special occasion email: Special occasions, like anniversaries and birthdays, call for celebratory upsells, like champagne, roses, and in-room decorations. Complimentary freebies, like sparkling wine upon check-in, also make guests feel special and valued.
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  • Reminder email: Travel can be stressful. A few days before arrival, send a comprehensive reminder with check-in details, parking instructions, and directions so frazzled travelers have everything they need in one place.
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  • Packing tips: No toothbrush, no problem. Let guests know they can purchase common items like toothpaste, umbrellas, and sunscreen at your hotel (if applicable) if they forget anything. Share the local forecast for the week to help them pack the right items.

Infographic: 7 Types of Pre-Stary Guest Messages

Email templates speed up the task of creating personalized guest communication at scale. Email marketing software handles the rest by filling in guest data like names, reservation dates, and custom offers so your emails feel tailored to each guest.

2. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Pre-Arrival Texts

Not all guests read emails. Include text messaging in your hotel communication strategy to let guests choose their preferred method. This also benefits you — 65% of consumers read text messages within five minutes — making this an incredibly effective way to reach guests.

But manually texting guests isn’t a realistic or productive use of your team’s time. Use a text messaging platform designed for the hospitality industry to automate the process. Canary Messaging lets you send customized text messages — in over 100 languages — so you can speak to guests in their native tongue.

Here are a few tips for communicating with guests via automated messaging:

     
  • Send short, swift series: Just like you would with email, send a series of texts, from local area guides to reservation reminders, but adapt the content for mobile. Keep your messages short and sweet with a maximum of 160 characters, the standard SMS limit.
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  • Monitor replies: Instead of auto-responding with a “replies are not monitored” message, use two-way text messaging to increase pre-arrival engagement. An AI chatbot can instantly respond to every guest question and comment. This includes everything from early check-in requests to reservation date changes.
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  • Upsell when appropriate: With Canary’s AI-powered messaging, guests are automatically presented with customized upsell options, allowing them to browse and pay from their phones — all without staff intervention. It also serves as a friendly robot concierge, offering personalized recommendations like the best local pizza joint and must-see attractions.
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  • Engage a human as needed: If a guest has an issue, the chatbot will escalate it to the appropriate department, ensuring it’s handled before it can affect a guest’s stay — or turn into a bad review for your hotel.

3. Enhance the Guest Experience With Upsells

A stay at your hotel is more than just a room with a bed — it’s an experience. Personalized upsells that anticipate guests’ wants and needs add to this experience, turning a typical stay into an unforgettable occasion.

Limited-service hotels and full-service hotels have ample options to upsell guests. Analyze past guest data and booking trends to create highly targeted offers that surprise and delight guests. Allow your property to inspire ways to provide a tailored service. Tempt couples with an upgraded suite or romance package and families with a pool cabana or kids’ club passes.

Additional ideas include:

     
  • Transportation services, like private airport transfers or ride-share reservations
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  • Premium products, such as luxurious bath linens or bath products
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  • Early check- and late checkout
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  • Business amenities (e.g., meeting room or coworking rentals)
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  • Room upgrades (e.g., larger rooms with a bathtub, superior views or higher floors)
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  • Champagne and strawberries for couples
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  • Room decorations for bridal parties, anniversaries and birthdays
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  • Spa packages for groups, couples, and business travelers
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  • Golf, gym, or excursion packages for adventure-seekers
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  • Grooming services for pet parents
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  • Local wine and beer tastings at on-site restaurants for groups and couples

Make it effortless — and automated — to offer guests everything from early check-in to airport transportation by using technology like Canary Upsells. Guests receive offers via email or phone, so they never feel pressured like they might with an in-person offer. If interested, they can select an upsell and prepay, all without the help of hotel staff.

4. Provide Contactless Check-In Options

Lobby waits are frustrating to guests — but they're also unnecessary. Contactless check-in lets guests complete the process before arrival, reducing wait times and increasing hotel staff efficiency.

To provide this convenient feature for your guests, use software like Canary Mobile Check-In. Guests can check in at any time through their phone or email without downloading an app. Promote contactless check-in multiple times in your pre-arrival communication, in addition to arrival day, to ensure guests know you offer this feature.

To heighten the experience, pair contactless check-in with additional offers.

This can include:

     
  • Last-minute room upgrades at full price or a discounted rate
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  • Add-ons like premium Wi-Fi access, transportation services and dining credits
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  • Special occasion packages featuring customized desserts, decorations or beverages

Start the Guest Journey With Communication and Connection

Pre-arrival communication allows you to connect with guests before they arrive, set clear expectations and offer personalized service. But it’s not just about what you communicate; it’s how you communicate.

Investing in technology, like text messaging and mobile check-in, makes guest communication faster, easier and more effective. Most importantly, it lets you wow guests at every step along the customer journey.

Interested in learning how pre-arrival text messaging and upsells improve guest service and generate revenue? Request a demo today.

Learn How Canary Can Help Your Properties Thrive

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