This is a guest blog written by Anastasia Sviridenko, content marketer at TextMagic.
We use our smartphones and other mobile devices a lot. An average user can spend anywhere from 2.5 hours to over 5 hours out of the day on their phone. That’s almost a third of the time a person is awake.
A majority of this time, as high as 90% is spent using mobile applications known as 'apps'. The most popular are messaging and social media apps such as Facebook Messenger, WeChat, WhatsApp, Kik and traditional SMS.
Messaging apps are increasingly becoming the fastest and most convenient way to reach potential customers. In 2018, businesses across many spaces, especially the tourism industry, should use these apps to communicate with their customers.
To better understand how you can use messaging apps to increase your tour bookings, let's look at the three ways that these platforms are helping businesses gain a competitive edge:
1. Messaging apps can offer exceptional customer service
There are almost 4 billion users between WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat. This universal familiarity makes messaging apps a comfortable communication tool for today’s travelers.
Companies like HiJiffy, are capitalizing on this familiarity and convenience. HiJiffy developed a conversational booking engine for hotels within their Facebook Messenger branded page. Travelers can make bookings, check-in and discuss travel plans all through the messaging app. The goal of Hijiffy is to give potential travelers information as quickly as possible to enhance their booking experience. Lindner Hotels & Resorts, Germany, where one of the first to use this tool to increase customer satisfaction.
The benefit to messaging apps over traditional email conversations is that these offer real-time communication. A quick response at a time that works for your customer can give companies a higher chance of closing bookings, and the opportunity to grow repeat custom.
2. Receiving instant notifications is attractive to travelers
Millennials are notorious for their heavy mobile device usage. Most have been comfortable using messaging services for most of their lives. For Millennials, Gen-X-ers and even Gen Z-ers, phone calls and even emails lack the level of confidence and convenience that messaging apps offer to them. In fact, 75% of people said they prefer offers to be sent via message.
In 2014, Loews and Four Seasons hotels changed the way guests request assistance from the front desk. If someone required an extra towel or wished to order room service, they could simply send a message from their phone using business messaging app Zingle. Once a customers request has been processed, they will receive an instant notification to their mobile.
Notifications are especially helpful for travelers to keep track of their booking details. Many airlines offer travelers the opportunity to receive text messages about their flight information, notification of delays and check-in reminders. This is all part of a transparent customer service experience.
Travelers want to spend their time enjoying their trip, not searching for emails or waiting on hold for a response. Instant notifications through messaging apps offer an efficient solution.
3. Messaging apps connect with chatbot technology
Expedia was one of the first travel agencies to use chatbot technology. In June 2016, Expedia revealed their 'chatbot for Facebook Messenger geared toward helping travelers to narrow down their hotel options.' In November 2016, they became synced with Alexa, so customers could access their 'trip itineraries and receive real-time updates about upcoming travel plans.'
Since, many companies have followed suit allowing customers to discuss their requirements instantly. They can also be filtered to the right member of staff via a chatbot without the use of a call center.
The maturation of chatbots and the willingness of brands and travel companies to accept messaging apps as a highly profitable marketing channel will surely drive this communication trend in the coming years.
Marketing through messaging apps is only going to grow in both popularity and sophistication. These apps are now providing the software for users to pay and accept payments, as well as to provide access to significant travel and tourism related information.
TextMagic is a bulk SMS software provider. It allows businesses to schedule and send text message alerts, notifications and promotion offers.