As consumers become increasingly dependent on mobile phones and mobile technology becomes more sophisticated, it is no surprise that businesses in the travel industry are looking to mobile marketing solutions.The benefits of SMS in particular are clear; campaigns need to capitalise on SMS to support their overall marketing strategies and use messaging as the main force driving customers to the internet. We believe SMS is and will remain a significant marketing channel to drive sales and profits for UK travel businesses– at a fraction of the cost associated with mobile advertising campaigns. It gives a campaign the added power to communicate with your target customer and build on the relationship you have with them based on permission and trust.
Regular contact with customers is a key aspect of the travel industry, SMS is a perfect tool to drive sales, communicate with customers and encourage customer loyalty. It can be used in a number of ways - a promotional tool, confirmation alerts and directing customers to mobile web pages for the consumer on the move.
We have worked with a number of travel agencies who were finding that more traditional channels were producing dwindling results and email campaigns weren’t having the impact they wanted either, with only 15% of people actually opening the email.
Text messages are simple, low cost and have a readership of over 95%. The average text is read within four minutes of being sent as opposed to an email where, if read at all, is read within 48 hours. Due to the concise nature, they take seconds to read, delivering the maximum impact with minimum inconvenience. This coupled with a call to action instantly linking them to a mobile web page is a powerful combination.
One travel agency who started using our SMS tool to send targeted special offers to their customers based on their previous travel destinations, received a response of 100 calls from every 1000 texts sent. This is just one example of how SMS can be used as promotional tool, yet it has many other benefits for travel operators.
The advantage of mobile is the ability to reach customers almost instantly wherever they may be; a key advantage for the travel industry is to use SMS alerts to customers in transit. Take the example of the BAA Strikes last year or the Big Freeze during the 2010 holiday period, regular SMS communication with customers would have helped to allay distress over delayed flights and increase customer loyalty to your business.
Our travel clients flag customer loyalty as a crucial element to ensure repeat business and promote word-of-mouth referrals. Clients have found staying in contact with customers throughout the booking process reassures them of business integrity and increases their loyalty.
SMS can be used to send out auto-reply confirmations and thank-yous for booking, as well as using it to communicate targeted add- ons for their holiday. For example, customers with young children booking a holiday may be informed of nearby attractions suitable for their family. This potentially gives the customer the feeling you are ‘going the extra mile’ for them with minimum time, cost and inconvenience to you.
With the rise of smartphone and mobile internet usage, more people are accessing information online via their phones than ever before. For the travel industry, this indicates that people will start using their mobile phones to research holidays, buy them and share their experiences with others. Using mobile web tools in conjunction with a text messaging campaign means SMS can now be used as the ‘hook’ needed to direct customers to online resources, faster than if they were left to their own devices.
This has been used to great effect by travel companies using our Mobile Web tool to direct customers to last minute holiday and flight deals, encouraging them to book getaways on the fly. It also allows business to measure the ROI based on the number of ‘click-throughs’ it receives via its SMS.
Lastly, to ensure customers do not feel like their privacy is being invaded, it is important not to bombard your customers with messages and to run an opt-out service. We advise our clients to make an opt-in or op-out option clear to their customers. So that customers do not have to leave a mobile number or can choose not to receive SMS alerts. However they find that the majority do. Even in the era of apps and cutting-edge mobile tools, SMS still has its place as the driver to alert or direct customers to the right place. Text messages are opened and read nearly 100% of the time, so there remains no better, no quicker way to get your message out to a large number of people.