Peak travel season is over, but that’s no excuse to stop engaging your travellers. According to travelaboutbritain.com, many Britons are taking a second holiday in winter. Others are taking short trips in spring. Older travellers are taking cruises any time of the year.
But if you’re a travel agent you probably already know that, right? So the only question really is, how do you communicate with your travellers? Email, post? Maybe an occasional phone call? All those can work for you, but more and more travellers are preferring SMS messaging.
The reasons are obvious. Estimates say over 80% of us own smartphones in 2016. Many others prefer the simplicity of a basic phone. But whichever one they have, all of them can receive SMS messages.
For a consumer, SMS messages are the perfect advertising medium. They only get messages that they sign up for (this is important!), the messages appear in an unobtrusive way (no obnoxiously loud ringing of phones), and they can quickly scan them to see if it is something they are interested in.
Those reasons are exactly the same reason why SMS messaging is good for a travel agent. Only people who want your messages will receive and read them. You’ll reach more customers using SMS because many won’t answer a voice call that may not be convenient, and emails just get mixed in with all the others they get each day. The quick nature of messaging means fast results for you.
Everyone is heading back to work and school after the holidays. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t already thinking about where they’ll go next. When it comes time to book, you’ll want to be sure they’re thinking of you and not the competition, or some online booking service.
The best way to do that is to stay top of their mind. Here are a two types of messages you can send:
- Follow up surveys from their summer holidays. Be specific if they travelled using your services, but even if they didn’t it might be worth asking for their thoughts in general. They are on your list after all, so knowing what they think can help you offer great service next time. And speaking of next time, why not run a survey asking them where they’d want to visit next?
- Contests. Who had the best summer holiday? What was the best destination? Ask your travellers any kind of question to keep them engaged, and offer some incentive for them to reply. Perhaps you ask them to send in their favourite holiday photo. The “best” photo wins a voucher from you toward their next trip. It could be anything you like, as long as it’s fun and interesting to your list.
Both of these messages can provide value in the form of better service or vouchers (plus fun!). They aren’t the sort of messages you’ll send every day, but they are the sorts of things you can use to engage with your list while they aren’t travelling.
Recently, the world has become an uncertain place. Locations we assumed were safe, no longer feel that way because of terrorism. Already the industry has noticed a change in travel patterns this year. UK visits to Dubai, North Africa and the Middle East declined. Even destinations like Paris, Germany and Turkey saw fewer UK travellers.
Instead, many people booked trips to Spain or other, less uncertain locations. This means your travellers might be considering someplace entirely new to them. Or they may be looking for a sweet deal in one of the less desirable locations.
You can help them navigate these choices by keeping them informed of options via SMS messaging. If you’re seeing a trend, you can let them know quickly so they can get in on the deals before things change. For example, maybe a once-favoured location is offering unbelievable deals in order to draw tourists back in. Some on your list might be enticed to go if the price is right.
On the other hand, maybe families on your list are determined to go on a staycation. Demand for certain areas is even higher than normal given the current issues. You can help get your list into their desired locations, but only if they book early. Let them know that in a message so they aren’t disappointed later on – and go to a different agent next time.
The trick to using SMS messaging this way is to ensure you are providing value while making sure you don’t message too much. How often you send depends on your services, and what your list is like. If you cater to frequent business travellers, you can send more messages than an agent who works with families that travel once a year.
If you’re not sure how to get started, or just want some expert advice on SMS messaging, we’re ready to answer your questions. You can find us on live chat, via email or phone.