I’ve taken a gondola ride at The Venetian Las Vegas. It was a real gondola, in a real canal. I’ve looked at artworks there that you’d probably only see in Italy otherwise. It’s about as authentically old-world as hotels get on the strip — which makes it the last place you’d expect to see Facebook Messenger redefine what “luxury travel” means.
Last week, though, the Venetian became the first individual hotel to offer the social media giant’s popular mobile messaging service as a way of booking rooms and checking in. Yes, you’ll be able to look for available dates and send quick messages to the hotel staff with questions, but that’s just the beginning. The Venetian said Facebook Messenger will not only provide information about its own amenities but suggest activities for guests to pursue — sort of like a personal concierge you carry with you everywhere.
According to Lisa Marchese, who serves as chief marketing officer for both the Venetian and The Palazzo Las Vegas, the hotel wanted to be a first-mover because it’s obvious consumers are starting to use social media to connect with brands as much, if not more, than they use phone calls or even e-mail.
“Of course, consumers are not just leveraging Facebook Messenger,”
she told me, but SMS and other services. “To date we’ve thought of those conversations as simply conversational, now we can smoothly transition that conversation into commerce. Facebook Messenger was a natural starting place.”
With musical acts from Steely Dan to Il Divo recently taking up residencies there, the Venetian obviously appeals to a wide variety of affluent travelers. There are some ways, though, in which Marchese says the hotel looks at its brand more holistically.
“The Venetian experience is not linear. It is a world-class luxury experience that is immersive. We have taken the stance that The Venetian experience begins before you actually check-in,”
she says. Being present when a guest wants to communicate and interact with us, on channels such as Facebook Messenger, reenforces its commitment to an immersive experience, she adds.
Of course, any hotel could theoretically start using Facebook Messenger and follow the Venetian’s lead, but Marchese says it will come down to how the team will use the technology to learn from repeated interactions with a guest.
“The knowledge and experience of our staff, are actual inputs into the overall experience the guest sees in our communications channels,” she says. “Alternatively, these channels can provide quicker insight into what guests may be contemplating or researching. That will bolster our in-person staff as well.”
In other words, socially-savvy guests may soon start thinking of the Venetian as less of a typical hotel property, and more like one of their Facebook friends.