SMS: The most underrated CX opportunity in the travel industry.

OpenMarket – May 24, 2018

The most successful businesses know what their customers need when they need it. But how do you use that insight to strengthen the relationship?

How many times have you wished somebody had warned you about the queue at airport security before you got there?

Or the weather at your destination, while you were packing?

Or exactly which platform your connecting train was leaving from – before you got off the train you’re on?

There are hundreds of moments like these when you’re travelling – moments where all you really need is a bit of information to make your journey less stressful.

The opportunity for travel and hospitality businesses is to identify these moments and then help customers through them.

The best customer experience is about anticipation.

And that isn’t just about building anticipation for the trip (though a timely message a few days before departure can do that too.)

It’s about anticipating your customers’ needs and fulfilling them before they can ask – or better yet, before they even realize they have them.

This is especially relevant for businesses that focus on return customers, instead of playing the transactional game. Thoughtful, timely and empathetic interactions are the difference between being treated like a transaction and being treated like a valued customer.

Customer experience is everything if your business needs to increase brand loyalty and get people coming back for more.

Why SMS makes the most of the opportunity

You can deliver empathy on any channel – all you need is some emotional intelligence and an understanding of your customer. But there’s no guarantee that your thoughtfulness will reach them if they have to hunt through their inbox for it.

Timing is an essential part of getting empathetic interactions right. There’s nothing worse than getting a notification that your flight is delayed after you’ve spent an hour rushing to the airport. (Other than perhaps actually missing your flight.)

It’s why SMS is such a crucial channel for the moments that really matter.

98% of text messages are read – and a whopping 90% of those are read within three minutes of receipt. That probably doesn’t come as a surprise, but it’s important to know. If the effectiveness of your message depends on getting the timing exactly right, you need SMS.

Re-open the conversation with your customers

Text messaging also opens up a direct channel with your customer. It effectively enables you to have a conversation with them without actually calling them and disrupting their day. (Let’s face it, no one wants to talk to vendors on the phone.)

Take the booking process for a trip or a hotel, which has mostly been de-personalized by digital platforms. What would have previously been a phone conversation between the customer and a travel agent or a concierge, is now a matter of browsing reviews and booking online, without ever speaking to anyone.

Clearly people prefer it that way. But a text message confirming their booking and payment, and delivering information they want ahead of their trip re-introduces a personal touch. You can tell them about their transport options without the hassle of calling, and without the information getting lost amongst a sea of marketing emails.

And once that channel is open, it goes both ways. Your customer can respond to your texts and tell you exactly what they need from you. Pick the right moment – like the cab ride from the hotel to the airport – and they’re happier and more willing to give you feedback via SMS, too.

Minimize the admin, maximize the experience

Travel arrangements and overnight stays can be fraught with organizational stress, but that’s exactly what makes them such great opportunities for empathetic interactions.

Wouldn’t it be nice to get a reminder to check your vaccinations or apply for a visa before you set off on your exotic holiday abroad?

Or to find out which platform you’re heading to a few minutes before everyone else?

Or to know exactly how much you’ve spent on the minibar?

There are so many openings for you to step in and make your customers’ lives exponentially easier. All you need is a well-timed text.

Payment moments are a particularly good opportunity to turn an impersonal transaction into a real exchange with your customer, at a time where they’re most anxious.

Find out  what some of them look like and how you can use them to deliver better experiences for your customers. 

(Or you can just get in touch with us directly.)

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