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.
Let’s look at the value proposition of SMS marketing for a second. Despite the growth of other communication channels, such as Facebook chat, WhatsApp and even Skype, SMS remains one of the primary communication channels in 2017.
Recent research by Nielsen shows that a massive 14.1% of a smartphone user’s phone time is spent texting. This dwarfs the next most popular category, social media, which takes up just 10.2% of a user’s phone time.
In North America alone, more than 6 billion text messages are sent each day. Worldwide, that figure grows to 23 billion text messages.
What is even more astounding is that SMS messages have a 98% open rate. Compare that to email and you’re looking at more like 20%, and that assumes you have a clean, responsive list.
And it gets better. More than 90% of SMS messages are opened less than 3 minutes after they arrive, and if you’re used to 2% response rates from other communication mediums, then be prepared to be blown away by the response you get from SMS.
Research shows that text messages have a 45% response rate. No, that’s not a misprint – 45%. Just imagine the potential of SMS for your hotel’s marketing.
There are few businesses that can’t benefit from SMS marketing, but hospitality businesses come right at the top of the list of industries that will benefit the most from this medium. While other industries are forced to get creative when sending out texts, it is relatively easy to find ways of integrating SMS into your hotel or restaurant marketing strategy.
Let’s look at a few ways forward-thinking hospitality businesses can use SMS marketing to engage with customers.
Is your customer service helpline overloaded with calls? Take the strain off overworked call centre employees and implement an SMS customer service strategy.
SMS can enhance customer service levels, so use it to provide a level or service that goes above and beyond your current offering. For example, send out a text message notifying customers that their room has been cleaned and is ready for occupation. No more forcing customers to wait until 2:00 pm, they can check-in as soon as their room is ready.
Why not take this one step further and integrate the entire check-in/check-out process? Customers hate having to check-in, so why not allow them to do it all by SMS.
These days, the check-in process is largely automated, so integrating it with SMS is a relatively simple process. You just need to send the customer a text message asking them to reply with a code to confirm receipt. Now all the customer has to do is collect the key from the front desk and they’re done.
Can your customers set-up reservations by text? If not, you may think this is a difficult or expensive thing to achieve.
But at Fastsms, we can integrate your reservations software with our online SMS platform using our powerful API. This makes it simple to offer reservations by SMS and frees up the front desk to focus on other more important things.
This is another area where you can get creative. Use SMS to drive customers to your restaurant or spa using promotions.
For example, schedule a message for 11:00 am that offers “10% OFF appetisers in the restaurant today, book before 1pm.” That should drive a healthy amount of extra business to your restaurant.
You can run similar messages at different times of the day. But don’t go overboard with it, try and limit messages to 1 or 2 a day when the customer is on-site. Also, try and vary the offer each day to keep them interested.
And don’t forget, you’re not limited to sending text messages when the customer is staying with you. You can send them discount offers at any time of year to try and persuade them to come back.
For example, “Book a five-night stay in the month of May and get the 6th night FREE” should get the phones ringing. However, try not to bother your customers with too many messages, SMS is regarded as a personal communication medium and you don’t want to breach the trust or privacy of your customers.
Finally, don’t limit your SMS messages to promotional endeavours. SMS is useful for generating customer feedback and recommendations. The information you collect will prove vital to improving your customer satisfaction rates and help you develop new services in the future.
The best time to ask for this type of feedback is with a simple thank you message after the customer checks-out. Don’t forget, your customer is likely travelling when they leave you and this can mean a lot of waiting around in airport lounges or on train station platforms. This is the perfect time for them to leave feedback about their stay while it’s still fresh in their memory.
These are just a few of the ways hospitality businesses can use text messaging to increase both revenue and customer satisfaction. At Fastsms, we are a well-established provider of SMS services to hospitality businesses across the UK.
Our cloud-based platform enables you to send and receive text messages to and from your customers. You can also fully integrate our platform into your back office reservations software, using our powerful API.
Now you can have one powerful integrated SMS marketing solution that powers customer engagement and enhances communications across your entire business.
For more information about how we can help drive your hospitality business forward, download our free restaurant and hotel marketing guides.