You don't have to be an Airbnb to be considered a hotel and hospitality marketer that uses mobile technology to give their guests the best possible experience. There are many ways you can leverage SMS marketing to keep your hotel's guests informed about booking details and other important or interesting updates.
Why SMS works for the hospitality industry
Doesn't email work? Of course, especially if the guest is anticipating their hotel booking confirmation message. But for everything else, like marketing emails, guests are less likely to open them, especially after their hotel reservation is confirmed. Many guests might not even check their email at all during their stay if they're travelling for leisure. While email marketing can generally be powerful, the hotel industry can expect an email open rate of about 20% only.
Text messaging has an open rate of a whopping 98%, with 95% of SMS messages being read within 5 minutes of being delivered, according to Pure360. There's a high chance for your text messages to be seen by customers even after they have arrived at your hotel since most people carry their mobile phones everywhere, even right into the pool at times!
Communicating with guests via SMS message will not only improve the guest experience but also reduce the load on your hotel staff members. The entire system can be automated to a great extent, saving precious time. In addition to that, if you encourage customers' responses with two-way SMS, you can handle all sorts of complaints and requests through SMS messaging rather than entertaining hosts of guests over possibly annoying phone calls.
Therefore, it's important for hotel managers and hotel marketers to have SMS as part of their guest communications mix – it's powerful and gets the message across quickly.
How your hotel can leverage SMS marketing: common use cases
The opt-in: a warm welcome
It's standard practice for hotels to ask guests to provide their mobile phone numbers upon booking a hotel room. You could very well use this opportunity to obtain their permission to send them SMS messages before, during, and even after their stay with you.
Once a guest opts in, you can kick off your text marketing efforts by confirming their booking with a quick yet welcoming message, letting them know that help is just an SMS away. Make sure to provide clear opt-out instructions as well. You can also include a shortened link within the SMS message that leads to all their booking information on your mobile site.
The concierge: a text away
Calling the front desk for every little request or question can be quite annoying for hotel guests. It can also make the concierge a very busy person because each minor inquiry could take a lot longer to address via phone call. A text message exchange, on the other hand, would be much quicker and easier.
With a two-way messaging service, you can easily hold multiple conversations with your hotel guests. You can even have multiple agents handling queries via the same dedicated customer support short or long code. Customer issues, such as a complaint about a burnt-out light bulb or a request for extra towels, can be quickly communicated over text.
You can employ SMS chatbots for advanced support. Repeated or popular questions and issues can be addressed much faster with automated messages if your SMS provider offers customisable options, trigger-based texts, and reusable templates. You can configure your SMS platform to send pre-prepared responses to questions containing certain keywords. For instance, if you get a lot of texts asking about some fun "activities" guests can do during the day, you can send the same response, albeit after adding some personal touches to each text, to all such queries. Imagine the amount of time you will save by automating this one simple use case.
For hospitality businesses, it is excellent practice to send an SMS reminder with the check-in time a day before the guests arrive. Details such as breakfast times or a brief itinerary for the first day can also be included for the guests' convenience.
Your staff can also utilise one-way messaging to send out urgent or important announcements, such as in the case of planned or emergency maintenance around their hotel rooms or a severe weather warning.
Room service requests
Among the many other things that concierges manage, requests for room service can quickly pile up and become hard to handle if there is no proper system in place. Shifting to an SMS ordering system will not only make it simpler for each customer to communicate their room service request but also make the hotel staff's job easier, faster, and less prone to human error.
Special offers for in-house services
For hotel guests, their customer journey doesn't end at check-in, which is why your SMS marketing strategy doesn't stop there either. There are plenty more opportunities to drive revenue.
Once hotel guests are settled in, they usually go for in-house services first, such as the hotel bar or spa, to shake off the travel tiredness. You can run creative SMS campaigns for advertisement and awareness purposes for those customers who may not know about the services you provide. For those who do know, you can text promos for the restaurant, spa packages, pool, or any other services that your hotel offers.
After they sign up for a service, it's nice to send confirmation and reminder texts. You can also offer subscribers some nice upgrades for relatively lower prices or perhaps surprise them with a complementary bump-up!
Another great way of utilising hotel text messaging to reward customers who are your frequent guests is to offer SMS subscription based, exclusive customer loyalty programs. These will make your guests feel special and valued.
On the day that a guest is scheduled to check out, it's important to thank them for choosing your services if you want to leave a lasting impression. A farewell text can contain some key information, such as a reminder for guests about their check-out times and requests for feedback. There are several ways to ask for customer feedback via text, such as a quick rating out of 5, a short SMS survey, or a link that leads to a more detailed feedback form or questionnaire on your website or via a Google form, for example.
How to get started
Once Messente's SMS API is integrated into a hotel's booking system, managers or administrators can set up the content and sequence it to trigger depending on the hotel's needs. Or they can test SMS marketing by uploading a contact list to our online Dashboard and sending SMS in bulk.
As always, if there's any way we can help, don't hesitate to contact us.