Live chat is quickly becoming a “must have” feature on your direct booking site. In 2023, almost 50% of site visitors and guests will expect you to have robust live chat availability, and 75% of visitors and guests prefer live chat to every other channel, including email, social media, and text.
But the importance of live chat extends far beyond guests wanting to interact with it. Live chat is one of the best ways to provide support quickly, drive more booking and sales, and ensure that guests have an incredible experience throughout their entire journey - from before they book until well after they leave.
What is live chat for short term rentals?
Live chat for short term rentals, vacation rentals, AirBnBs and everything in between is a way for you to message and engage with your guests through your direct booking site in a real time way.
Your guests (current ones and ones that haven’t booked… yet…) want to chat with you through your site because they know they can engage directly with your brand and often like to have the listing and reservation information easily accessible when they start a conversation.
They want to be able to go to your site, see the chat widget in the bottom right of the page, and reach out to you directly. Because adding live chat is so easy, each and every host should try to do so as soon as possible. - and a guide for this can be found here!
7 reasons Live Chat is so important
Here’s a list of the seven important reasons why you should consider putting a live chat widget on your direct booking sites and start seeing the benefits of doing so.
#1 - Guests want to see it & use it. Badly.
As we mentioned earlier, almost 50% of your guests expect to see some sort of live chat on your direct booking site and guests may want to use live chat for a wide variety of reasons.
First, it allows them to communicate with your brand in real-time, rather than having to wait for a response via email or phone. This can be particularly useful for customers who have urgent questions about a listing they’re interested in booking or issues that need to be addressed promptly.
Live chat also allows guests to multitask while they are waiting for a response, as they can continue browsing your website, looking at numerous listings, or working on tasks while they are waiting.
Additionally, live chat can be a more convenient and less intimidating way for customers to communicate with your company and team, as they can type out their thoughts and questions rather than having to speak with someone directly
#2 - It allows you to easily deploy chatbots and conversational AI
Chatbots are the best way to deal with guest messaging and engagement at scale for your short term rental business. And it just so happens that on site chat is one the best places to deploy the chatbots that can handle hundreds of different types of conversations, proactively engage with guests, collect valuable data, and help them make a booking. With current average response times, only 8% of guests on average get converted from an inquiry into a booking - a low conversion rate that is most often attributed to response times that are in the hours.
Chatbots allow you to keep these response times to a few seconds, greatly increasing the probability of a booking and ensuring that each interaction between you and your guests is timely, positive, and results in a satisfactory resolution.
#3 - Live Chat drastically increases bookings
Live chat is a powerful tool for increasing sales and bookings for a number of reasons. First, it allows you to answer any questions guests might have in real time about listings they are interested in.
Second, by being on the line with you and being in contact with you they are far more likely to “go over the edge” and make a booking right then and there instead of continuing / expanding their search and looking at other STR providers.
The chatbots we mentioned in the previous section can proactively engage with guests and have a conversation with them, giving them the information, security, and familiarity needed to be more comfortable making a booking quickly. This level of engagement can only be achieved through your website using live chat.
Live chat can also be used to upsell and cross-sell products and services. For instance, if a guest is considering making a booking, an agent or representative can use live chat and a live view of what they’re looking at to suggest related or complementary offerings like early check-ins, upgraded listings etc. that might be of interest to them. This helps increase the overall value of this guest's booking.
Live chat can also be used to address any concerns or questions that guests may have about a product or service, which can help to reduce any hesitation they may have about making a booking.
#4 - Live Chat improves guest experience
In today's world guests don’t want to wait on the phone, be stuck on hold, or stay in limbo for hours when trying to make a booking, ask about an upcoming reservation, or resolve an issue during their stay. Having a chat widget on your direct booking site allows you to avoid the vast majority of situations in which a guest would be waiting for more than a few seconds for a response.
Responsiveness is one of the most important factors in delivering a great guest experience and ensuring that each happy guest leaves a happy review. Unlike in airlines where the service is commoditized and price is the only factor that people typically look at when making a purchase decision, short term rentals and accommodations are very very different. Quality of service and “special-ness” of the stay is a far more important factor than price, and while in airlines guests are typically willing to compromise on quality in order to save money, this is not the case in short term rentals.
By being available at all times and by responding quickly with relevant information whether through a chatbot or a live agents, you are ensuring that guests are never in a situation in which they are waiting for information for more than a few seconds or left without a response to an important question.
#5 - Live Chat is a cost effective way to provide excellent guest support
Live Chat allows you to handle multiple guest inquiries at the same time, which can be more efficient than handling them one at a time over the phone or via email. This can help to reduce the amount of time and resources that are needed to support guests, resulting in significant cost savings.
As mentioned earlier, live chat also allows you to use chatbots and chat AI at scale, reducing the number of requests and inquiries your staff need to deal with in person by over 70%.
Additionally, live chat can be a more convenient option for customers, which can reduce the number of calls or emails that a business receives and further reduce the cost of providing support.
Live chat can also be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection, making it easy for short term rental companies to provide support to guests and booking inquiries around the world without incurring significant additional costs like international SMS fees, expensive phone calls, etc.
#6 - Live Chat drives loyalty and retention
Live chat can help you ensure higher customer loyalty in a number of very meaningful ways. In an industry where good communication is one of the biggest drivers of guest satisfaction, being easily available and responsive in seconds goes a long way towards boosting that satisfaction, overall experience, and quantity of 5-star reviews. As we’ll talk about below, having a live chat system deployed on your site also allows you to collect a great deal of data about your guests - data which you can use to create personalized experiences and stays.
But most importantly, perhaps, the ability to address and respond to guest inquiries in real time, 24 hours a day.
#7 - Live chat allows you to collect more data
Deploying on-site chat allows short term rental companies to collect incredibly valuable guest data. Chat allows you to gather real-time data on guest behavior and preferences. This can be done through the use of the aforementioned chatbots, which can collect and process data on the types of questions and requests customers have, their responses to various prompts and offers, and contact information through conversational means or through the use of forms.
Additionally, live chat allows you to capture guest feedback and voice of customer data in real-time and at scale. This can be particularly useful for gathering data on customer satisfaction and loyalty and to put together a comprehensive Voice of Customer / Voice of Guest snapshot which can then be tied to critical metrics and indicators like retention, sentiment, review average, revenues, team performance, and more.
Finally, live chat allows short term rental managers to track guest interactions over time, allowing them to build up a comprehensive picture of guest behavior and preferences. This data can then be used in powerful ways to deliver tailored and personalized experiences to guests each time they stay and to inform marketing and booking, and growth strategies.
FAQ’s for live chat widgets on direct booking sites
How do I add the chat widget?
Adding the chat widget to your direct booking site is really really easy! All you need to do is copy a few lines of code into your direct booking site or add it to the page manager in your Property Management System and you’re good to go. Instructions for this can be found here.
What do I need to do to add a chatbot to the live chat widget?
Nothing! It’s added to your live chat widget by default, and will handle all sorts of events such as booking, ticket resolution etc. autonomously based on the data associated with your yada profile. It will of course notify you of new conversations and messagings. Filling out some brand level details is a great way to get started setting up the chatbot.
How does the chat widget handle bookings?
Think of the yada widget as a mini app that sits on your direct booking site. It has a lot of different powerful functions like live chat, ticket creation, and booking flow all in one. Bookings can be created by agents based on data collected during a conversation, or through the booking tab that lives in the chat widget. Each conversation looks at relevant information like what listings your guests are looking at in order to provide relevant information about the listings, availability, and upsells.
Get started by deploying the yada widget onto your direct booking site! It takes less than a few minutes, and our team is always here to help you with any questions you might have.