Do hospitality trends in 2016 include SMS messaging?

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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.

Two beautiful young stylish receptionists at a reception desk, one talking on the telephone and the other handing a card to a customer

"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?

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