Text messaging consistently proves itself to be the best way to engage both existing and potential customers. It’s shown itself to be a preferred method of communication for a few decades. Though its reputation is well established, the SMS strategies used by companies and organizations are constantly evolving, creating new breakthroughs and improved engagement. The hospitality industry is no exception.
For both hotel chains and online booking services, SMS can both enhance the user experience for existing customers, and target new potential customers. A recent article in Hospitality Technology notes that two of the biggest players in the online booking space, Expedia and Booking.com, are already leveraging text messaging to their advantage. Additionally, many hotels, especially franchises are using it to communicate with their guests.
While this recent trend shows that the hospitality industry is warming up to the idea of utilizing SMS, there is still tremendous room for growth in how it is being used. Currently, most methods are only focusing on promotions and discounts. But cultivating a relationship with customers often demands more than this.
Rajath Ravikumar, Consultant at the Digital Industry Solutions Group at Mindtree, outlined that account alerts, appointment reminders, FAQ/customer support, and satisfaction surveys are four strategic programs that are relatively untapped by today’s hospitality market:
- Account alerts – This very effective SMS usage can help people track their loyalty points, relay booking confirmation, allow for easier check-in/check-out, and integrate to security authentication into their online booking for fraud prevention. We’ve seen a similar strategy implemented for college enrollment by Bowling Green University.
- Appointment reminders – Prevent no-shows to dinner reservations, spa appointments, resort excursions, and car rental reservations by implementing this simple process. This simple programming is used in healthcare frequently with great results.
- FAQ/Customer support – Having a text program that answers commonly asked questions allows you reception staff to work more efficiently. The Upland Mobile Messaging chat feature is a handy way to view incoming questions and respond back instantly. This helps keep hotel employees focus on the customer in front of them rather than being tied up on lengthy phone calls.
- Satisfaction surveys – Rather than filling out paper cards that are easy to lose or sending e-mails that won’t be open, text messaging allows guests to respond in a matter of seconds, making it more likely that they’ll evaluate their experience. Since hotels are offering discounts already via SMS, why not use them as a way to incentivize a brief survey? This creates a win-win scenario for the hotel and the guest.
We look forward to seeing how the hospitality industry uses these methods, and what new ideas emerge and their use of text messaging continues to grow.