While the pandemic has and continues to affect every single industry, arguably, few of those have been as disrupted as the hospitality sector. Thankfully the ‘Eat out to help out’ scheme was a success, with 64 million meals claimed during August, and as co-founder of Hawksmoor Will Beckett said, it encouraged people to learn to go out again.
Throughout this challenging period, hospitality businesses have shown great resilience and adaptability, introducing various take out services, amending opening hours etc. And while the ways each business has responded to the pandemic may differ, the one universal factor which has been key to helping hospitality businesses through this time, is technology.
While some establishments have introduced apps, simpler, far less expensive communication technologies, like SMS, can also be used to help businesses maintain social distancing protocols, reallocate shifts in an efficient manner and enhance the customer experience. Consequently, quick guide below of the most inventive ways we’ve seen SMS put to use by the hospitality sector in the current climate.
Sending customers an SMS reminder prior to their booking is a great way to reduce no-shows, as SMS benefits from a 95% open rate, and it also allows businesses to manage customer expectations. For instance, if you require customers to scan the Track and Trace App upon arrival, you can mention this within the SMS reminder. Furthermore, it also enables businesses to start the customer experience, prior to the booking. By including links to new food and drink menus, brands can begin to get customers excited about their visit, before they even arrive.
Managing food & drink orders
With SMS Long Numbers, you can set up a dedicated Long Number and request customers to send their order and table number, across via text message. Staff can then respond directly to the order message from within the TextAnywhere account, to confirm that they’ve received the order, and if for example a customer has forgotten to include their table number, employees can then ask for this detail via SMS reply. What’s more, as SMS messages boast a 90 second average user response time, this can be done in a swift manner. Once customers have finished their meal or drinks, they are then able to request the bill.
As this implementation requires minimal to no staff training and means customers aren’t required to download an app upon arrival, it could prove a simple and cost-effective solution to help your business maintain social distancing protocols.
Communicating takeaway deliveries
Many businesses have introduced takeaway options, and SMS Long Numbers can also be used here to help businesses with their contact-free deliveries. Your staff are able to send an SMS to customers once delivered, and since 90% of text messages are read within 3 minutes, you can be sure takeaways aren’t left on the doorstep going cold, while promoting customer and staff welfare.
In the current climate, managing shift rotations can be more difficult. For instance, staff members may be in a position where they need to self isolate, without being able to give much notice. By sending a bulk SMS to all staff members, saying an additional shift is available, you can easily re-allocate this shift to the first recipient to respond to the text message. Again, because of the wide reach and speed of SMS, it makes it a perfect communication channel to achieve this in a quick and efficient manner.
Many businesses within the hospitality sector have introduced new services, amended opening hours and in some cases, made quite drastic changes to their business models. Given that the face to face interaction with customers has reduced, and is likely to stay like this for quite some time, it’s worthwhile collating customer feedback to get a gauge of how the new services have been received. As 95.3% of consumers say they would respond to an SMS Surveys, this can be a great way to collect feedback in a way which is convenient for your customers.
If you would like to talk further about any of the aforementioned use cases, or how SMS could help your hospitality business, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our experienced team at [email protected].