In the mountains of the state of Puebla in Mexico, the local indigenous communities are facing an economic crisis.
Having witnessed a drop in the sale of coffee and corn and the rise of middlemen who limit their chances of getting a fair price for the embroidered textiles, soaps and herbal tonics they make, men often leave home in search of work.
That makes the efforts of a cooperative of 120 women all the more important: They are lifting themselves and their families out of poverty and ensuring a vital source of income for their communities by running Hotel Taselotzin, the area’s entrepreneurial nerve centre which opened in 1997.
For years Hotel Taselotzin — a small guest house with 11 rooms, a traditional Pueblan spa and a gift shop of hand-made crafts — used phone calls and Email to connect with guests and book their stays but in January 2019, it switched to the WhatsApp Business app to build a more efficient reservations system.
Olgaolivia Ignacio, the hotel's receptionist, says 10 percent of all bookings are now confirmed and more than half of all potential customer inquiries answered via the WhatsApp Business app. She adds the quick replies and business profile features have proved very useful.
"We can send automated messages, share our working hours and the hotel's address. We can also welcome our clients with quick replies without having to write the message," she explains.
Guests also like interacting with Hotel Taselotzin via WhatsApp.
"There was strong contact despite our distance, thanks to this tool"
"It is something very new for me because the response time is very, very fast," says Fabiola Gonzalez. "This helped me make my decision between other hotels and this one."
AnaYanci Zaldivar — who works with indigenous communities in Mexico and wanted to visit Hotel Taselotzin to learn more from the women who run it — says WhatsApp made her visit possible. "There was strong contact despite our distance, thanks to this tool."
Hotel Taselotzin is preserving the region's traditional way of life and as the business grows with the WhatsApp Business app, the women running it are improving their communities’ economic fortunes by putting it on Mexico's tourism map. But, more importantly, its success is keeping families together.