Travel Agents Should use SMS Messaging During the Off Season
Peak travel season is over, but that’s no excuse to stop engaging your travellers. According to travelaboutbritain.com, many Britons are taking a second holiday in winter. Others are taking short trips in spring. Older travellers are taking cruises any time of the year.
But if you’re a travel agent you probably already know that, right? So the only question really is, how do you communicate with your travellers? Email, post? Maybe an occasional phone call? All those can work for you, but more and more travellers are preferring SMS messaging.
Why Use SMS Messaging
The reasons are obvious. Estimates say over 80% of us own smartphones in 2016. Many others prefer the simplicity of a basic phone. But whichever one they have, all of them can receive SMS messages.
For a consumer, SMS messages are the perfect advertising medium. They only get messages that they sign up for (this is important!), the messages appear in an unobtrusive way (no obnoxiously loud ringing of phones), and they can quickly scan them to see if it is something they are interested in.
Those reasons are exactly the same reason why SMS messaging is good for a travel agent. Only people who want your messages will receive and read them. You’ll reach more customers using SMS because many won’t answer a voice call that may not be convenient, and emails just get mixed in with all the others they get each day. The quick nature of messaging means fast results for you.
The Off Season
Everyone is heading back to work and school after the holidays. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t already thinking about where they’ll go next. When it comes time to book, you’ll want to be sure they’re thinking of you and not the competition, or some online booking service.
The best way to do that is to stay top of their mind. Here are a two types of messages you can send:
- Follow up surveys from their summer holidays. Be specific if they travelled using your services, but even if they didn’t it might be worth asking for their thoughts in general. They are on your list after all, so knowing what they think can help you offer great service next time. And speaking of next time, why not run a survey asking them where they’d want to visit next?
- Contests. Who had the best summer holiday? What was the best destination? Ask your travellers any kind of question to keep them engaged, and offer some incentive for them to reply. Perhaps you ask them to send in their favourite holiday photo. The “best” photo wins a voucher from you toward their next trip. It could be anything you like, as long as it’s fun and interesting to your list.
Both of these messages can provide value in the form of better service or vouchers (plus fun!). They aren’t the sort of messages you’ll send every day, but they are the sorts of things you can use to engage with your list while they aren’t travelling.
Provide Relevant Updates
Recently, the world has become an uncertain place. Locations we assumed were safe, no longer feel that way because of terrorism. Already the industry has noticed a change in travel patterns this year. UK visits to Dubai, North Africa and the Middle East declined. Even destinations like Paris, Germany and Turkey saw fewer UK travellers.
Instead, many people booked trips to Spain or other, less uncertain locations. This means your travellers might be considering someplace entirely new to them. Or they may be looking for a sweet deal in one of the less desirable locations.
You can help them navigate these choices by keeping them informed of options via SMS messaging. If you’re seeing a trend, you can let them know quickly so they can get in on the deals before things change. For example, maybe a once-favoured location is offering unbelievable deals in order to draw tourists back in. Some on your list might be enticed to go if the price is right.
On the other hand, maybe families on your list are determined to go on a staycation. Demand for certain areas is even higher than normal given the current issues. You can help get your list into their desired locations, but only if they book early. Let them know that in a message so they aren’t disappointed later on – and go to a different agent next time.
The trick to using SMS messaging this way is to ensure you are providing value while making sure you don’t message too much. How often you send depends on your services, and what your list is like. If you cater to frequent business travellers, you can send more messages than an agent who works with families that travel once a year.
If you’re not sure how to get started, or just want some expert advice on SMS messaging, we’re ready to answer your questions. You can find us on live chat, via email or phone.
For travel agencies, SMS messaging allows you to connect with travellers on a one-to-one, or one-to-many basis, yet still be personal. How can that be? People guard their mobile numbers and only share them with the people or businesses they really want to hear from. It's their personal number after all, and they won't hand it out to just anyone.
The lure of quick, easy and cheap travel arrangements online has revolutionised the way people find and book travel. Travel agents offer so much more than search, click and book, but still find themselves facing competition from online booking. But none of the major online booking sites can offer the personalised service an agent does.
Using people’s names in marketing is great. It does provide a certain level of personalisation that can get people more interested in what you’re sending them. Of course in text messaging, you don’t always have the room for a name, your message, and the required opt out information … usually there just isn’t enough room. So how can you make your marketing messages personal?
Today we’re bringing our technology with us on our travels - using our smartphones to create a more personalised experience, one that points us towards tailor-made itineraries. This means those who promote certain sectors of the travel industry are in a strong position to have their SMS marketing campaigns favourably received.
The campervan and caravan industry grew 16% this past year. Campsite and holiday park owners can connect with the thousands of new travellers using SMS messaging. After all, 76% of travellers prefer to take their mobile on holiday rather than a friend.
In order to appeal to new customers and interact with existing ones, businesses are always looking for new marketing methods. Whilst many companies are using traditional and online marketing techniques, these aren’t always effective. Email filtering, for example, means that many recipients may not even be aware that they’ve received contact from your company. As many email hosts provide in-built spam filters, it’s easy for email marketing content to be overlooked or ignored completely. SMS marketing, however, overcomes many of the obstacles associated with online and email marketing. Whilst potential customers may not see your company emails, SMS messages aren’t filtered in the same way. The delivery rate is, therefore, far higher for SMS messages in comparison to marketing emails.
SMS marketing has seen a huge uplift in popularity in recent years, with big brands investing in the technology to better engage with their customers. There are so many benefits of SMS marketing, from the ability to directly to reach customers with your communications, to the fact that over 80% of SMS texts are read. With over approximately 90% of the world receiving mobile coverage, you’re highly likely to be able to reach your audience, regardless of where they are. SMS marketing is cost effective, and campaigns are quick to develop, in as short a time period as the time it takes to write a text message. This gives you the advantage of being able to communicate quickly, and effectively with customers, reacting to information almost instantaneously. With so many reasons to use SMS marketing, we’ve highlighted four sectors successfully using SMS messaging as case studies to highlight the advantages of investing in the technology.