Tips and Best Practices for Using SMS During High Travel Season

OpenMarket – August 4, 2016

We’re currently in the midst of summer, and the travel and tourism industries are kicking into high gear. This makes it the perfect time to take a look at how travelers communicate and use their mobile devices to interact with hotels, resorts, airlines, and other partners along the way.

Hint: SMS plays a vital role.

The Demand for SMS

95% of business travelers own a smartphone

We’re currently seeing an increase in demand for SMS in dozens of industries, but nowhere is this more apparent than in the travel and tourism industries. According to the latest research, 95 percent of business travelers own a smartphone and 64 percent also have a tablet. Furthermore, 67 percent shop, research, and book travel accommodations using a mobile device. Also, approximately 77 percent use their devices to check on updates, such as flight activities.

In other words, the demand for SMS isn’t just something that retailers need. There’s a growing expectation for hotels and airlines to adopt SMS capabilities at each point along the traveler’s journey.

5 Tips for Using SMS to Reach Travelers

Because SMS is a relatively new tool – especially in the context of business – it’s quite common for companies to be unfamiliar with the different ways to use it efficiently and effectively. If you would count yourself in this group, don’t worry. We’re going to provide you with a handful of helpful tips, ideas, and techniques for reaching travelers.

  1. Send Out Timely Deals

One of the key advantages of SMS is the fact that it’s quick and timely. Whereas emails, voice mails, online advertisements, and even social media posts sometimes take hours or days to be consumed, SMS is almost immediate. Specifically, 95 percent of messages are opened within three minutes. This is an impossible metric to achieve via any other tool or medium.

If you’re a hotel or airline, sending out timely deals is a great way to reach customers. For example, an airline can send out a last-minute ticket deal to fill a few extra seats on a flight. Or a hotel could run a 24-hour flash sale for rooms. Since the messages will be opened in minutes – not hours or days – they are much more effective than emails.

  1. Deliver Timely News

While you have to be careful not to bombard customers with excessive messages, you should use SMS to delivery timely news on occasion. For example, an airline may send a quick message announcing a new destination hub in an exotic location. Try a message like, “Hey Dave, we just wanted to let you know that we’re now offering flights to Fiji. Be one of the first to fly with us!”

There’s something about receiving an SMS that seems more personal than a generic email. By utilizing these opportunities, you can establish good will with your customers.

  1. Send Confirmations and Reminders

For businesses in the travel and tourism industries, nothing causes bigger headaches than missed flights, cancelled reservations, and miscommunication in regards to scheduling. While you likely already have a method of relaying information via email, as previously noted, this isn’t the quickest option. This is where SMS comes into play.

Immediately after a booking is made, you can send travelers a confirmation that encourages them to record the details on their phone’s native scheduling apps. Then, 24-48 hours prior to the reservation, send out another reminder that provides them with all of the information they’ll need.

Along these same lines, you can also send invoices after customers have completed a transaction. This ensures customers have a digital copy of all materials and don’t have to waste time with paper copies and/or emails.

  1. Provide Responsive Customer Service

One of the best applications for SMS is customer service. Texting is easy and quick, which makes it an ideal way for customers to send messages and receive time-sensitive responses to issues. This is perfectly exemplified in the way many airlines use SMS to help frustrated customers who’ve missed connections or are experiencing delays.

Southwest Airlines was one of the first to utilize SMS back in 2010. “We looked for a more efficient way to communicate with passengers about changes in flight services,” Fred Taylor, senior manager of customer service at Southwest Airlines, said at the time. “Knowing the prevalence of mobile phone usage and how consumers crave instant information, Southwest felt that using interactive AOM would dramatically enhance customer awareness, satisfaction and loyalty.”

Since 2010, the popularity of SMS has only increased – and so has the use of SMS as a customer service channel. Today, virtually all of the major airlines are using it in some capacity. In fact, it could be argued that no other industry does SMS better than the airline business.

  1. Sending Out Useful Information

Many hotels, resorts, and travel destinations are using SMS in even more creative ways. For example, some travel companies will send out messages to travelers during their vacations to provide details about nearby attractions or coupon codes for certain restaurants. It’s an effective way to drive traffic to various business partners or increase the perceived value of a certain service.

Give OpenMarket a Try

Businesses in the travel and tourism industries face immense competition. Not only do they have to actively pursue customers, but they have to actively pursue customers across many different demographics. For hotels, airlines, and other service businesses, customers can be spread across different cities, states, and countries. This makes it incredibly difficult to target them in traditional geo-based manners.

If you’re facing the challenges associated with having a customer base that’s spread across the globe, then you need an SMS solution that allows you to connect with users regardless of location. At OpenMarket, we are that solution. A single connection to our network gives you immediate access to billions of mobile users across 200 different countries.

For more information regarding the OpenMarket SMS enterprise-grade network, contact us today!

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