Do hospitality trends in 2016 include SMS messaging?
On Hospitalitynet.org I found an article and an infographic predicting the marketing trends for hotels in 2016. I read through the text of the article, then reviewed the infographic. I felt very confused. You’ll see why in a moment.
The first trend listed was “Mobile Dominates”. Absolutely! Yes, of course! It said that 21% of bookings now take place on mobile devices on average.
The next trends all made sense too, from relationship marketing to consumer generated content. But nowhere, not even in the mobile section – or the relationship section – did I see a mention of SMS marketing.
Its absence is was what confused me. From the research I’ve done, SMS messaging and hotels are a perfect pair. Like fish and chips. Or cheese and biscuits. But I began to doubt what I knew and furiously started researching again. Here’s what I found.
"SMS is Outpacing Email for Outreach"
Another article on hospitalitynet.org I found was entitled “Why Companies are Adopting Mobile Marketing, and Why You Should, Too”. The second reason given was that SMS is a better way to connect with customers than email. The author quotes a study showing that mobile consumers are “eight times more likely to engage a brand via text than email”.
Reason number three revolved around personalised content. SMS is arguably the most personal channel a marketer can have with a consumer, and when you send personal content via SMS you’ll make a special connection that isn’t possible via other electronic means.
The fifth and final reason addressed real-time location services. Many different technologies can use location based services, including SMS.
Goodbye in-room telephones
Among the list of “new innovations” listed in another hotel trend list I found on The Telegraph was the idea that SMS messaging would replace all phones in hotel rooms. If you want room service, extra pillows, or a wake-up call you’ll simply text the request to the hotel instead. It specifically refers to a new hotel set to open this year in Palm Springs. The whole concept for the hotel is from a former Facebook employee, now millionaire. The use of SMS messaging for hotel communication is just one example of how this new hotel will apply technology.
Big money investments
Expedia.com recently announced a $9.5 million (£6.7M) investment into a software-as-a-service hotel platform called Alice. One of the key features of the software is the integrated text messaging services. Guests can send requests via text message even before they arrive. The hotels can also text guests before arrival to see if they have any special requirements. During their stay they have the option of how to communicate, with SMS being a primary option.
Even more confusion
In my research I also came across the same infographic on many other sites. Quite a few of them had titles and content discussing the growth of SMS in the hotel industry. Yet the infographic doesn’t say anything about SMS – only mobile in relation to other types of marketing.
It’s all very puzzling, but that’s content on the internet for you. Finally, I made one last examination of the infographic and decided to go to the original source. It’s a hotel marketing company called NetAffinity. The article on hospitalitynet.org was a promotional content piece (as many are on the site) for the company. So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to see they offer every service listed on the infographic as a marketing trend. What they don’t offer (as far as I can see on their website) is SMS messaging. Mystery solved.
SMS is indeed still a great combination for hotels and hotel services. And if the other articles and trends I found are to be believed, they might dominate hotel communications in the not-so-distant future. What do you think?
SMS messaging can be a one-way, or a two-way affair. Sending coupons, sale notifications, or event announcements are all one-way messaging. The recipient doesn’t need to reply in order to use the information sent. In two-way messaging though, recipients can reply to your messages. And that makes it much more interesting, engaging, and potentially a lot more work to manage.
Now that the peak travel season is over, how can travel agents stay top of mind in their customers? If you look around, you’ll notice everyone seems to have a mobile. That means SMS is the perfect way to reach them and make sure you’re not forgotten.
“European travel agents don’t like it”. That’s a statement made by one of the gentleman at my table during the mCommerce Summit earlier this month. He is from Cruise America, a successful RV (camper) vacation rental company based in Arizona, but with 123 locations around the US. We were talking about his company and their online and mobile reservation options.
In many ways, SMS messaging is so commonplace people don’t think about it. They just do it. For example, using SMS for mobile marketing in retail is a fairly standard use case whether you’re a company or the consumer. But there are always exceptions – those who innovate when it seems there’s nothing new to be had. Here are two examples of companies from the US using SMS in ways no one else is – yet.
Festival season is upon us! Experienced festival organisers predict that to be successful you need more than just music. You’ll need to offer an experience to your attendees. In the last blog I covered some of the reasons for that, and ideas on how to start building your SMS marketing list before your festival begins. In part 2, we’ll take a look at how to use SMS to create engaging experiences for attendees while they are at your festival, and even after they leave.
Sometimes bloggers or journalists get a bit carried away. They see some data or fact, and run off to declare there’s a trend you need to know about. The latest one I’ve seen is all about how to reach the generation of “cashless shoppers”. The argument goes that you need to use SMS messaging to reach customers because they are all shopping online – where you obviously can’t pay in cash.
So many of us are used to having our mobiles around nearly 24 hours a day that it’s easy to forget it’s still a growing industry. And though SMS has been around for over two decades, the ways we use it and people’s willingness to use it continues to grow. So for this blog I picked out five facts about mobile and SMS that really make the case that SMS for business has come of age. Let’s see if you agree.
SMS marketing can be a double-edged sword, which is why it's crucial to ensure that each one of your campaigns is well thought out, immaculately spelt, financially accurate (i.e., the prices listed are correct), and, perhaps most importantly, the time and date is 100% accurate. Only once you have triple-checked each one of the components should you then consider sending out a batch.
More and more industries are tuning in to the advantages that SMS marketing can offer their business. SMS marketing is not only useful for acquiring new customers, it can be used to increase brand loyalty as well. This is particularly true for the hospitality industry, which faces challenges unique from other industries, in that they are on the front line when it comes to delivering customer service.