Nancy Trejos -- USA TODAY
At some Loews and Four Seasons hotels, you don't have to pick up a phone to ask for towels, a bottle of wine or even a bowl for your dog's meal.
All you have to do is send a text.
The Four Seasons Philadelphia and three Loews properties - two in Orlando and one in Nashville - have pilot programs that let guests make any request through text messages. The hotels have partnered with a personal texting service called Zingle, which has worked with companies such as McDonald's and Subway.
It works like this: Once you check in, the hotel will register your phone number to your personal "service on demand" profile. You will then be able to text any request, whether you are inside or outside the hotel, for your entire stay. The hotel guarantees that your text will be answered within four minutes.
"To me, texting is about immediacy," says Ford Blakely, chief executive officer of Carlsbad, Calif.-based Zingle. "I think as the world evolves, customer service is about immediate attention - quick, easy attention."
A number of hotels have adopted mobile apps that allow guests to make a wide variety of requests.
Chekitan Dev, marketing professor at Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration and author of Hospitality Branding, says texting is more appealing because it is more immediate.
"Not having to download an app saves a step and time, and anything that saves time will win in the marketplace," he says. "Plus, this saves voice message errors, wait time and allows for a text trail. This service is sure to resonate, especially for the Millennial for whom e-mail is passé and text is everything."
About 400 hotels have been using Zingle since it was founded in 2009 for its parking service, which allows guests to text when they want their cars brought out from the parking garage. Blakely says it made sense to expand the service beyond parking.
Michael Nenner, hotel manager of the Four Seasons Philadelphia, which has been using the service for eight months, says the hotel will honor pretty much any request. One time, he says, a guest was at dinner and heard that a football game was going to take place during his stay and texted the hotel to ask the concierge to get him tickets.
"We get anything and everything," he says of the variety of requests.
Tony Phillips, the general manager of the Loews Vanderbilt Nashville, which has been using Zingle since May, says the hotel has not gotten any outrageous demands, but the frequency of requests has picked up.
'It's really intuitive because we all sort of text now," he says. "The comfort level becomes easier."
Typically, when a guest texts a request, employees get an alert. If the text is not answered in two minutes, a manager gets involved.
Stephen Mikol, 38, an Atlanta entrepreneur, got a prompt response when he texted a request for water and food bowls for his dog, Whitney, at the Loews Vanderbilt Nashville. He had forgotten to pack them.
"I thought it was a really great feature, especially for people like me who text constantly and pretty much do all my conversations via texting these days," he says.