By now you’ve probably heard about Facebook’s acquisition of the hugely popular messaging platform WhatsApp. The $19 billion price tag made for juicy headline fodder, but what exactly does it mean for the world of hospitality? WhatsApp has thrived by using data to circumvent traditional SMS text messaging and its pesky fees. Consumers texting with businesses has always made sense in theory, but there has never been a viable medium that benefits both parties. WhatsApp has the potential to fix the ill-fated text-message campaigns so many hotels attempted nearly a decade ago. It just might evolve the formerly one-size-fits-all spam blast into a two-way dialogue about guests’ personal preferences, needs and wants. The seeds for this evolution already have been planted. Just consider how many guests today choose to tweet at a hotel instead of calling the front desk. With Facebook and WhatsApp joining forces, that trend should only accelerate. It’s important to remember that Twitter started out as nothing more than a basic text message. So will the future traveler simply text you about a reservation? Social media necessitates that hotels be where their guests are — not vice versa. If a guest wants to tweet, text, Like or Instagram you, make yourself available. The hotels that serve up the right information at the right time will come out on top.

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