A few months ago, I wrote a blog about travel agents using SMS messaging to respond to changes in travel due to world events. It turns out that the travel industry can also benefit from the fastest growing SMS sector: Application to Person (A2P) messaging.
According to a recent report from Research and Markets, the “Rapid increase in the growth of mobile phone subscribers coupled with increasing mobile marketing activities is driving the global A2P SMS market.” They predict that the market will grow to $62.1B (~£50B) by 2025.
The travel industry accounts for some portion of that, but not very much currently. Another report by the Mobile Ecosystem Forum found that only 10% of consumers had received or sent SMS messages from companies about their travel.
That means there is plenty of room to grow for the industry. The use of mobile devices isn’t going to slow down anytime soon, and travellers will begin to expect the convenience of SMS messaging (if they haven’t already). A2P can make it easier for travel agents and companies to contact their travellers. Here are some examples.
Last Minute Sales
There are almost always rooms that haven’t been filled, empty seats on planes and trains, or cabins on cruises. While travel agents can certainly call their most active clients to offer last minute deals, that takes time. With A2P messaging, a message with a great last minute deal could be sent automatically out to those customers. This would let the agent contact more people than they could using voice calls, and probably get a higher – and quicker – response than using email.
One of the most common uses of A2P messaging is booking confirmations. But there are other uses as well.
Last minute schedule changes, flight delays, transfer information or even hotel changes can also be sent automatically. These types of alerts need to reach the client fast so they can prepare or make the necessary changes quickly. SMS messaging is guaranteed to arrive within seconds. It also is preferable to email because internet access is not required.
While this sort of service via SMS isn’t standard yet, mobile based customers will likely see it as a differentiator when choosing a travel agent or booking site. It’s just more convenient for them.
While some travellers are out just looking for a good deal, most want to experience the best customer service during their trip. Providing up-to-date information on itinerary changes is a valuable service. But you can go beyond that too.
Providing weather updates, especially if there are unexpected forecasts for the climate, could be incredibly helpful to travellers. Sending links or information on the local fare or activities might be just what someone needs to decide on what to do that day.
Giving clients the ability to complain or compliment about their stay via SMS will give important feedback about the destinations, activities, and their preferences. Follow-up surveys after they return home give an additional opportunity to provide even better service in the future.
Some of these things are probably already being done via email or voice calls. But using SMS has advantages. The largest of these is the immediacy that no other channel can provide. It is also a very personal channel, allowing you to provide great service – automatically via A2P – to clients who will remember it the next time they book a trip.