Hospitality Mobile Messaging – which one delivers results for hotels, airlines and other travel companies?
In-App messages (aka Push Notifications) are short messages sent from a mobile application that is installed on a user’s smartphone. In-app messages can be sent even when the application is not being used. These are highly effective for some mobile applications – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social or gaming apps. It is a way to alert the user of new updates, special offers or reminders, and drive him to use the app. The one big advantage of in-app messaging is that it is a fast way to drive users into the application.
Text messages (aka SMS) are short messages (160 characters) sent between two or more mobile phones. Text messages can be sent from a short code or a long code directly to a user’s mobile phone. The user does not need to have a smartphone, nor does he need to have your mobile application installed. Since the end user includes both smart and feature phones (and you don’t need an app), the potential reach of your message is significantly wider. Text messaging eliminates the barrier points by allowing anyone with a mobile phone to join connect with your company, regardless of the phone type or wireless carrier.
Hotels Using Mobile Messaging
You want to drive people to your mobile application or mobile website and make a purchase, so why would you use text messaging? Inclusion. If you want to reach all of your loyal customers, and get your message to them faster, then text will be the most effective tool. Include a link to your website or into your mobile application in the text message, if that is how you are driving them to a purchase point. Resorts and Hotels around the world are discovering the power and effectiveness of text message marketing to keep guests informed and rooms filled. Last year, a Forrester survey identified a 450% increase in mobile bookings since 2009.
What Kinds of Text Messages Should Hotels Send?
Send Special Weekend Rates to Loyal Customers / VIPs
Fill Empty Rooms with a Last Minute Deal
Promote Other Services such as Restaurant, Bar and Resort Activities
Target Select Demographics by Zip Code or Preferences
Customer Satisfaction Surveys
Emergency and Weather Alerts
Tourism and Resort Messaging
Hotels are not the only ones who can increase revenues by leveraging mobile messaging, more tourism boards and specialty resorts are creating mobile marketing campaigns to draw people in. Resorts can capitalize on consumer behavior by combining it with highly segmented text messaging campaigns. The more you can gather about your customers (or potential customers), the more targeted your messages will be. A more personalized text message receives a better response rate. If you want to drive people to the ski slopes, then focus on visitors who prefer to visit during the cooler months. How do you find that out? Ask! Use two-way messaging to survey visitors about the kinds of information they want to receive from you.
With the overwhelming number of communication channels available to businesses, figuring out the best way to reach clients can be tricky. While you want to make sure your customers get the message, you also don’t want to annoy them with too much contact.
So as more and more companies begin to reach out using text, we asked Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following question:
“For those of you who use text messaging to reach clients/customers, what is one best practice you can share with others?”
Here’s what YEC community members had to say about professional text messaging;
1. Keep Them Short
“Text messaging is effective, but only if it’s brief. No one likes having to read a text message that’s more than a sentence or two.” ~ Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
2. Offer Another Level of Service
“Since we ship physical products, we use text messaging to alert customers about when their order is shipped and when it’s gone out for delivery. Since some automated emails hit the spam folder, this ensures customers know their order is coming and we can get them to proactively read our shipping and receiving policies. It’s a great way to ensure a high level of service and interaction.” ~ Gary Nealon, The Rox Group
3. Focus on Building a Relationship First
“I would first focus on being loyal to your clients and building a great relationship with them. Texting is fine, but I would never send an unsolicited text message.” ~ Dan Price, Gravity Payments
4. Be Personal
“We’ve found text message marketing works best when the texts are customized and personal. This may not be possible if your customer list is huge, but we saw a greater ROI from sending personalized messages to a small segment of our customers vs. a blanket message to all of them.” ~ Josh Weiss, Bluegala
5. Limit Frequency and Ensure Quality Content
“People like using messaging to engage with their preferred brands and products. But if you pass a certain threshold where the user perceives they are receiving too many messages, then it can become an annoyance rather than an asset. Also, if you are going to grab someone’s attention on the most valuable real estate available — the phone in their pocket — it has to be high-quality content.” ~ Ty Morse, Songwhale
6. Don’t Reply With One Word
“Give the person a good reply if they are texting with you. I work with people for whom texting is the only way to communicate. Never send one-word texts!” ~ John Rampton, Adogy
7. Provide Relevant Content
“We are all very connected to our phones and text messages are a much more personal form of communication than email, so it’s extremely important that the content is targeted and relevant. Target users you’ve already established a relationship with and tailor content accordingly.” ~ Erica Bell, Hukkster
8. Set Boundaries
“Communicating through text with clients is a two-way street, so it’s important that you set boundaries from the start. If you don’t, you can risk becoming overwhelmed by texts during your personal time as well as missing or losing vital correspondence. Additionally, it’s important for the client that you don’t do the same, upsetting them in the process.” ~ Steven Le Vine, grapevine pr + consulting
9. Offer Short Answer Options
“At InList, we know many of our clients do not want to be interrupted with a call. In certain cases we will text the member first, and we’ve found that people prefer short answers. We won’t ask detailed questions through SMS. We’ll ask questions that have simple answers of one to three words to ensure a faster reply. If we need detailed information, we will text and ask for a good time to call.” ~ Gideon Kimbrell, InList
10. Impart Value
“We text message daily health tips to our users and make sure we are providing value. With power comes responsibility and because they opted in with us, we would not betray that trust by spamming. We also note the high response rates on text message surveys to ensure that we align our content to what they expected after sign-up. Text messaging is powerful because it has high instant readership.” ~ Shradha Agarwal, ContextMedia
11. Ensure They Opt In
“Customers may provide you with their cell number at one point, but that doesn’t grant you the right to text them. There have actually been plenty of lawsuits resulting from text message advertising without permission. Always make sure the people you are texting opt in first.” ~ Robert De Los Santos, Sky High Party Rentals
Hippocrates said, “Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.” Mobile technology presents users an opportunity by means of accessibility to a myriad of health-related resources.
mHealth Technology is Changing Healthcare
The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration defines mobile health (often referred to as mHealth) as, “the use of mobile and wireless devices to improve health outcomes, healthcare services and health research.” Fifty-two percent of smartphone users already access health-related information on their phones, and the number of people using app-enabled mHealth devices is projected to leap from 15 million in 2013 to 96 million by 2018.
There are more than 97,000 health- and fitness-related mobile apps available. Users can access and engage a smartphone or tablet for healthcare needs by: monitoring blood pressure and other vitals, pregnancy tracking, the tracking and analysis of medical conditions in lieu of an actual device (for example: as a stethoscope to record a heartbeat; for diabetics to check glucose levels; as a sensor on an inhaler to track asthma; and for urinalysis), and the management of sleep, moods, weight, and prescriptions.
Various mobile-integrated therapy applications are available for chronic illnesses and diseases, which account for more than 3/4 of healthcare spending. According to Digitas Health, 90 percent of patients with a chronic illness reported they would accept a mobile-app prescription from their doctor (yes, that exists!) compared to 66 percent who would accept a prescription for medication. Remote monitoring with mobile technology could reduce hospitalization for these patients by 47 percent and office visits by 65 percent, and save the U.S. $197 billion over the next 25 years.
For both iTunes and Google Play, the top health-related download is the “24/7 Medical Help” application Urgent Care. Personalized, physician-reviewed content is emphasized in WebMD’s app. The soon-to-be-released app Zest Health will take a concierge-like approach to healthcare with “Talk to Me,” “Schedule Me,” “Inform Me,” and “Track Me” functions. Of Americans who seek medical info online, 67 percent say this has made them better informed as patients. Data shows that physicians agree: 93 percent said they believe in the power of mobile health to improve a patients’ health, with many citing appointment alerts and care-management reminders as a top benefit.
mHealth technology provides more opportunities to reach people who are notoriously underserved by the healthcare industry: those below the poverty line, senior citizens, the disabled, those living in rural areas, and the homeless, many of whom have unmet health needs and poor access to care. Of these, the majority say they would prefer to save time, money and trouble by connecting with a doctor online, and many have phones. A recent study of people experiencing homelessness shows 70 percent own a cell phone.
SMS can be utilized for this purpose, as well as to deliver health information to specific demographics. The program TXT4Tots encourages healthy communities by providing a downloadable library of short, relevant text messages about nutrition, physical activity, etc. to send to parents and caregivers of small children.
Data predicts that mHealth’s integration into traditional healthcare systems will continue to advance, with increasingly more opportunities to take advantage of. Over the next 10 years mHealth is expected to save the healthcare industry more than $300 billion in increased productivity, as well as improve quality, increase access, stimulate consumer involvement and decrease costs. Obstacles to mHealth evolution are far outnumbered by the possibilities. As Mobile Beat says: “Welcome to the brave new world of healthcare.”
Text Messages Boost Revenues for Entertainment Venues, Especially Bowling Centers
The arrival of summertime brings with it the tradition of many classic, American outdoor activities: barbecues, pool parties and Fourth of July firework shows. But most people can only take so much sun, and when it becomes too much they look for fun ways to beat the heat. Bowling centers offer all the necessities for a family summer hangout: air conditioning, food, games and fun. A variety of entertainment options are available to cool off – such as movie theaters and water parks. How can bowling centers convince this eager market to seek shade on their lanes? With the ping of a text message to boost attendance.
Text Message marketing offers bowling alleys the chance to increase traffic and build relationships with consumers at any time of year. By adding text message marketing to your toolkit, you can also instantly send personalized offers and promotions – from free games to discounted pizza, to your customer database. This encourages your target to remember you for their entertainment needs on a regular basis. And mobile website allows people to easily locate your center, view food and game packages and find seasonal deals.
One of the greatest benefits of mobile marketing is the ability to target a variety of demographics, from families to college students to league bowlers. These flexible, affordable mobile tools are easily integrated into your existing marketing strategy and allow you to meet the current needs and goals of your bowling center through custom, targeted messages, from holiday specials to driving traffic on slower days with limited-time discounts. Having a strong mobile presence not only brings in new bowlers, but also grants the opportunity to build relationships with them as well as strengthen existing ones.
Everyone likes to feel empowered. In marketing, empowering the target of a campaign is a fantastic method to persuade that target to buy your brand or to keep them loyal. The term “empowered-consumer” should not be feared by businesses. Instead, they should be cultivated and tapped into as a valuable sales-boosting resource. Empowering consumers can create a legion of enthusiastic Tweeting, Facebook sharing, smartphone-wielding evangelists for your brand.
We are living in the age of virality, where the buzz around a brand happens overnight on the Internet. It happens when your Facebook friends share a funny commercial during the Super Bowl. It happens when a hashtag promotion starts trending on Twitter. Harnessing this new type of marketing should be at the top of every marketer’s To-Do list. The consumer is usually socializing on his or her own accord, so how can marketers engage them to take part in this inadvertent advertising?
Empower the Brand
Person-to-person marketing is nothing new. Advertising on social networks is no longer new either. In order to adapt, marketers can combine these two methods by engaging consumers with their social networks, especially the consumers already familiar or loyal to a brand, from the device they love most – their smartphone.
Here are a few examples of how businesses can empower their customers through their smartphones:
Make it democratic. The best way to empower someone is to show them that their opinion matters. Give customers something to vote on, like a new product, promotion, or slogan, and ask them to share the business’s web-poll with their social networks. Have them text-in and deliver real time results. Majority rules, so the customer will want their pick to get as many votes as possible.
Make it free, or at least seem free. In order for this technique to work, it should only apply to the brand’s target market or brand loyalists. Try offering this group something free in exchange for sharing a link on Facebook or forwarding a text coupon promotion to 5 friends.
Make it a game. Similar to making an offer seem free, turning it into a game or contest for a loyal customer to win empowers that person. In the context of mobile marketing, this might be a call-to-action for a customer to get their friends to text in a keyword to a short code so that the customer wins a gift card.
Make it theirs. Once a brand’s product is off the shelf and in the hands of the customer, it is theirs. Ask a customer to snap a picture with their new product and upload it to their social network, like Instagram, along with a specialized hashtag.
The past decade has seen a dramatic, fast-paced evolution of the mobile phone, and the average college student has had no problem keeping up. Raised in an era that expects the newest, hottest devices every year, Gen Y has evolved into a “mobile generation.” Whether listening to music, texting friends, reading class updates or checking in at their favorite hot spot, college students are mobile 24/7.
Juggling their professional, academic and social lives, college students are busier than ever and constantly on the go. Most aren’t reading the newspaper for articles and looking at local weekly deals on the bus ride to class; they’re checking news sites and skimming Groupon and Facebook deals right from their phones. Everything is about convenience for this generation.
Tech-Savvy Buyers Expect Mobile Marketing
So what does this mean for companies hoping to reach this tech-savvy demographic? They must appeal to them through their device of choice: mobile phones. Those with a phone strapped to their hand expect mobile marketing to be used to reach them. Nearly every college student in America has a mobile phone, over half of them being smart phones; and according to Hack College, 94% of college students text every day. This is a market waiting to be tapped.
To keep up with this mobile generation, marketers must go where they go. By integrating tools like text marketing and mobile websites, companies can place messages and deals right in the palms of their hands. A two-way dialogue through text marketing alongside simple, informative mobile sites can instigate a purchase and make a lasting impression. College students love nothing more than receiving personalized coupons from their favorite brands; they save money while you benefit from the immediate purchase and better your long-term consumer relationships.
While mobile technology launches were not center stage during this year’s South By South West Interactive Conference, it certainly did not go away. Some people claim that we have app fatigue or that mobile marketing is not as sexy as it once was. However, the conversations during a few panels and on the trade show floor would say otherwise. This will be the year when brands learn to personalize and customize the messages they send to consumers using mobile marketing.
Mobile Marketing is Getting Personalized
As with other channels, mobile marketing is getting personalized . This shift in messaging is particularly important for small businesses. The most active smartphones users today are very different from years past. Something has returned to these consumers – trust. To build trust between a customer and a local business is vital for the growth and sustainability of that business. Consumers are back to trusting locally and they feel good about being known by their first name.
I have seen this personalized messaging done best with text marketing, but also with mobile websites and mobile apps. Text marketing makes it easy, because on some platforms you can create text surveys for your customers and segment your future messages based upon their responses. This creates a type of preferences setup for discount offers and announcements. Ask your customers about their visits to your store:
How often do they visit
What is the most common item or service they purchase
Are they satisfied with customer service
Would they recommend you to friends
How is the quality of your product or service
For the people who are very satisfied or who visit you frequently, consider developing a mobile loyalty program to show your appreciation. The people who are less satisfied or who are casual customers need more of a push, so offering a large discount or free item may help to grow them into a more loyal customer. Mobile coupons have 10 times the redemption rate of printed coupons, and mobile loyalty programs are used much more frequently than those plastic cards.
South By South West has come full circle in the type of attendees – from small start-ups to huge brands, and now back to the small businesses again. Local businesses are very savvy and flexible with their marketing efforts, which is why they see the importance of mobile marketing and how they can utilize it to grow their businesses.
The traditional business model has changed tremendously over the past 10 years, and it continues to warp each month. Using a mocial strategy (mobile + social), your company can keep up with changes closer to real-time. These tools allow your company to create a personalized communication with customers – addressing what they want/need, wherever they are and delivered in a tailored way.
There are a few key ways to use a mocial strategy – increase brand awareness, customer satisfaction, additional revenue and building loyalty. What are some easy ways to connect mobile marketing and social media?
Have a mobile website that is easy to navigate and connected to your social media channels. This is a no-brainer. 80% of retailers do not have a mobile website, and yet 76% of local searches (especially for shopping and restaurants) are coming from mobile phones. Make it easy for customers to find you.
If you are just starting to collect text marketingopt-ins and you don’t know how to promote it, then use your social channels to promote it. Post a SMS sweepstakes or special offer on Facebook and Twitter. Make sure to be consistent with your message everywhere you post it.
Customers will definitely complain about your brand on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and even YouTube. Respond to these complaints and make it better. If the customer is already in your mobile database, then maybe you can push one-time mobile coupons to them.
Learn from the feedback given to you by customers. If there is a recurring complaint about something, then you should address it on social media, updating your website and mobile website, and send out a text message to your mobile database. If the issue is parking, then maybe you should notify everyone about a new extension to the parking lot.
Collect customer feedback using text marketing. If your text service provider has interactive dialog capabilities like 3Seventy, then you can invite customers to answer a text messaging survey for an incentive like a discount. Text JOIN to 370370* to see what this looks like on your phone. *Standard message and data rates may apply
For many years, mobile marketers have relied on click through rates to determine just how successful their campaigns have been. Now it has been revealed that a rising number of people are utilizing deeper analytic tools to ensure that consumer targeting is as optimized as possible.
Mobile strategy and marketing have taken many leaps forward in the past few years. While click through rates offer strategists an idea of how well a campaign is working, they don’t necessarily give much information on the consumers themselves and how they came about engaging with the campaign. This is where analytic tools come into play, offering companies a more in-depth look at their target audience and consumer models.
Industry insider Peter Wang explained that analytics are becoming increasingly vital as the mobile strategy market becomes more competitive. “Mobile advertisers have to be much more focused, more targeted,” Mr. Wang said, adding, “And to do that, advertisers need to take into account the timing and context of the mobile user – when is it a good time to serve the ad, and what ad to serve. This is where analytics comes in, via real-time collection and understanding of data.”
Although mobile strategy might have been able to get away with limited analytics until now, increasing amounts of data need to be used to ensure effective targeting. Consumers must feel that advertisements are personalized and also relevant to their needs. For this to occur, strategists must utilize all of the data available to them.
Quick Response Codes (QR Codes) have made their way to the US and retailers are utilizing the cryptic little codes in both interactive and mysterious ways.
For instance, look for JC Penny’s to impress this Christmas season with the “Who’s Your Santa” promotion. Send a wrapped gift with a QR Code printed on the “Santa Tag”. When scanned, the gift recipient will hear a personal voice recorded message from the sender. The genius of this promotion is far-reaching; in that, interaction does not end with one consumer but continues on to include many in on the fun. The intrigue of not knowing who sent the gift until the tag has been scanned adds to the excitement.
Old Navy is also banking on the inherent ambiguity of the QR Code as they recently kicked off their “Egg Hunt” promotion. Shoppers scan barcodes found anywhere within Old Navy locations to potentially reveal a prize. The sweepstakes will reward customers with instant wins, or store discounts. Participating customers are also automatically entered to win a Grand Prize of $50,000. This promotion will without a doubt drive traffic to Old Navy.
Heineken used their QR Code campaign “Open Your World” to grab the attention of large music festival crowds. Festival goers created personalized Heineken “U-Code” stickers which they stuck to themselves. Each sticker when scanned revealed something about that person. Some examples of personal messages read “I came from the Global Village”, “I’m not wearing any underwear”, and “Who’s Justin Bieber”. People became walking billboards of sorts. The promotion enhanced the festival experience by providing ways for meeting new people by scanning each other, and created buzz.
QR Codes are essentially a way to link the consumer to online content. This leaves the opportunities here wide open. The tricky part is getting the patron to feel compelled to take the time to scan the code. It seems that figuring out how to harness the curiosity of others using QR codes is very possible and full of potential.
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