In this article we explore how small and medium-sized independent companies in the travel and tourism sector can take advantage of the opportunities offered by SMS marketing to ensure a sold out summer season.
The travel and tourism sector features numerous small and medium-sized independent travel agents and tour operators operating alongside a number of large, established players. When it comes to the summer peak season, all are fighting for a cut of the pie in this highly competitive space. One thing that gives smaller players the edge is the very personal nature of their brand – and SMS marketing can be a major weapon in the arsenal for such companies.
Research conducted by various research groups within marketing has indicated that customers frequently rate SMS marketing as being much more personal than other forms of electronic communication. Evidence suggests that the fact you are able to send a message directly into the customer’s hand plays a huge role in this.
The law requires customers to consent to SMS marketing at the point they provide their data. As a result, there is also an element of trust and credibility that is all too often missing with emails. This is despite the law applying to these in the same way.
When it comes to new customers, a great proportion of the UK population will be devoting a lot of thought over the coming weeks and months to ideas for the summer getaway. There is no better time than now to reach out and let them know what you’ve got to offer. Providing some great inspiration directly into their hand via a carefully timed SMS could be just what is needed to entice them into looking at what you have to offer and taking that next step.
Don’t forget, SMS marketing is also a great tool for following up on leads before the trail has gone cold. If a client has enquired but hasn’t come back to you with a booking, why not take the opportunity to remind them that they still matter?
SMS marketing offers unrivalled response rates in comparison to other forms of communication. Firstly, current statistics by Ofcom indicate that 93% of the UK’s adult population personally own or use a mobile phone – meaning that the potential reach of SMS marketing is vast.
Couple that up with an open rate of 100% – of which 95% is within the first three minutes – and it’s not hard to see how it can be used to great effect. The ease with which customers can read and reply to SMS messages wherever they are is also another key factor in their success.
Provided your respect the individuality of your customers and market to suit their preferences and tastes, the chances are that they will be happy to receive communications from you even if they are not of interest at that particular moment.
It is said that returning customers can offer more value to a company than new customers – often providing in the region of 40% of revenue, without the cost of acquisition. When it comes to travel and tourism, VisitBritain reports that repeat holiday bookings are typically longer than first time bookings and see increased spend on both overnight accommodation and throughout the stay. With that in mind, SMS marketing is a great way to reach out to existing customers to provide them with tailor-made offers based on the information you already hold.
Maintaining a healthy balance of returning customers versus new helps businesses to remain robust and profitable, especially important in today’s turbulent economy. With knowledge of your customers’ preferences based on previous bookings, it makes sense to reach out early and help them with their holiday plans before they’ve had a chance to look elsewhere.
Successful SMS marketing for the travel and tourism industry is all about understanding the SMS cycle. One of the keys to successfully using SMS marketing as a travel agent or tour operator is to start early – literally, as soon as the customer has opted in. Even if you have not yet managed to close a sale, making the customer feel special by adding them to a ‘VIP list’ to receive special offers personalised to their taste is a great way to increase your chances of conversion.
Choosing the right time is key too. Mondays, for example, are known to be a great time to remind people of their holiday desires. After all, who doesn’t dream of escaping the office after the short-lived freedom of the weekend? Fridays are also great, with potential clients having the weekend available to follow up on an SMS and browse your offers online.
Be sure to use SMS marketing at every stage of the relationship – before they’ve booked, at the moment of booking and of course afterwards. Inviting feedback and responding to it in a personalised way is a great way to build rapport and foster loyalty. Above all else, be sure to keep all of your communication highly personalised for maximum results.
If you are interested in learning how travel agents can use SMS messaging to improve efficiency and customer relations, look out for our forthcoming article. We’ll be looking in more depth at a range of SMS applications including booking confirmations, payment reminders, itineraries and updates, weather updates, feedback/survey requests, and an inbound ‘textline’ for help/requests.
You may also wish to view our guides for Travel Agents and Hotels.
Here at Fastsms, the UK’s #1 business SMS platform, our friendly and approachable customer service experts know exactly how travel agents and tour operators can get the most out of SMS marketing. To learn more, call us now on 0800 954 5305 for a friendly, no-obligation chat.
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