Technology and travel have never been so intertwined. Whereas in the old days we would use our travel time to get away from the pesky modern world, today we’re bringing our technology with us – using our smartphones to create a more personalised experience, one that points us towards tailor-made itineraries. We’re using our phones to research and plan our travels – and then using them when we’re away, too. They contain our boarding passes, travel plans, directions, and much more as we head around the world, which more and more of us are doing with greater regularity. If the general population is already conditioned to have their phone be a part of their travels, then those who promote certain sectors of the travel industry are in a strong position to have their SMS marketing campaigns favourably received.
Make It Glamorous
The tourism industry is in a privileged position, in that it takes no effort to make what they are selling appealing. People want to travel as much as they can. Even when they don’t have the time or budget to do so, people still look at maps and get excited at the very idea of going away. SMS marketers can tailor their special offers, whatever they may be (hotel discounts, special packages, early bird deals and the rest), and send them through at a time when people are most receptive to the idea of booking a holiday. Midweek afternoons, when people are bored and fed up at work, would be a fine time to receive a message along the lines of “Looking for sun? Book a holiday to the Caribbean now and receive 15% off [URL]”.
A study earlier this year showed that searches for flights jumped by around 68% during the first week of January, just as people were returning to work. If you’re in the travel sector, it’s important to send a message at the right time. A Friday night would be useless, as people are quite happy with life as they look forward to a long weekend. A text at 4pm on a rainy Tuesday would be a different matter.
Make It Useful
You don’t wait until you’re ready to advertise to make use of SMS messages. Begin the dialogue straight away by making it a part of the process from the moment they book their trip. You’re able to send booking confirmations, travel updates, and links to see their full reservations via text message. You can take this further by sending your customers text messages with fun things to do at their booked destination, advice on the weather and what to pack, and even an events guide for the time they’ll be there.
Doing this makes you a part of their travel experience in a practical, welcoming way. There are also plenty of opportunities to market new products and services once the SMS campaign is underway. For example, sending through tailored links related to additional booking options, such as car rentals, hotel and flight upgrades, and excursion packages.
This type of SMS marketing makes it a fair trade between you and your customers. You’re giving them advice on how to have the best holiday possible. When it comes to a mass marketing campaign later on down the line, perhaps several months or a year after they’ve used your services, you’ll already have a foot in the door and they will be more open to receiving and clicking through any links you might send. The trust has already been built.
This type of exchange works for the majority of tourist sectors – holiday package sellers, hotels, flight websites, and more.
Make It Special
Your SMS subscribers should be important to you – make it show in the messages you send them. Outlining the same old spiel that everyone can see online will not make them feel valued as a customer. If you’re ready to launch a great promotion, perhaps one with limited spots, make sure it’s your SMS subscribers who see it first. Everybody wants to get the best deals on flights and holidays – those who book these great deals with you will be loyal customers in the future.
Similarly, you’re able to make them feel special by keeping them abreast of the latest exciting travel destinations. The well-trodden destinations will always be at the forefront of their mind – put something else to them instead. It could be a far-flung, newly rediscovered city, a special trip such as seeing the Northern Lights or other natural scenery, or the latest hotels (or new additions if your business is a hotel).
If you’re in the travel industry, getting a customer to book is only the first part of your job. The second is following up after they’ve left their holiday or your property and asking them for feedback. Sending them an SMS message gives you the opportunity to thank them or welcome them back to their home, and also solicit a review. Giving customers an outlet to share their happy memories or give constructive feedback is an important aspect of growing as a business and ensuring customer retention. You don’t want to end your relationship with a customer after a single booking – keep the conversation in as many ways as you can.
If you’re talking with a customer after a booking, you also have an added bonus of knowing what they like. If they booked a 5* hotel in New York, for example, they may be interested in discounts on similar standard accommodation in another major city, such as Paris. The same can be applied to sun seekers who like long-haul holidays, adventure holidays, and so on. Knowing this information allows you to tailor your SMS marketing to their interests.
The relationship between SMS marketing and the travel industry is only just beginning. With smartphones an ever-present aspect of our travelling, there’s real scope to get creative with how you market via SMS. Think outside the box and become a part of your customers’ holidays before, during, and after their travels: contact FastSMS today to see how we can get your tourism SMS messages up and running.