75% of customers are willing to spend more on businesses that provide a good customer experience.
In the competitive travel and hospitality industry, the importance of ensuring customer satisfaction is paramount. This is particularly true for hospitality businesses and tour and activity operators who need to ensure a seamless customer experience.
One vital aspect of this experience is the focus on how businesses can communicate with customers about their customers.
SMS is emerging as a superior channel over email for both customer communication and support, given its impressive open rates, immediate delivery, and concise messaging.
Let's explore why this shift in communication channels is occurring.
Why is Communication Key in Travel and Tourism?
More than 6 out of 10 consumers say they will switch to a competitor after a single poor customer service, and that surely includes customer communication.
Good customer communication is essential in travel and tourism. It helps answer customer queries and share important information like plans, updates, and special deals with travelers. It also prevents confusion and makes travelers feel more comfortable.
No wonder why the customer experience management solution market around the world is worth more than $11 billion in 2022 and is forecasted to grow up to $32 billion in 2029.
Effective communication tools, like SMS, emails, human support and phone calls, and live chat features, can help both travel agencies and businesses improve their relationship with customers, increase engagement, and build customer loyalty.
If that is so, why should you opt for SMS over email communication?
SMS vs Email: Why SMS Works Better
Multiple communication channels and platforms are now available for businesses, each with its strengths. However, SMS is outshining email for several key reasons.
- Impressive open rates
SMS shines with an impressive open rate of 98 percent, almost five times higher than email.
This high open rate ensures a larger audience for your important updates and offers.
- Real-time message delivery
SMS provides real-time message delivery, making it an ideal channel for communicating time-sensitive communications.
Customers typically read a text within minutes of receiving it, ensuring rapid dissemination of information and customer interactions.
- Brevity and clarity
The 160-character limit of SMS messages encourages concise and digestible communication.
This brevity ensures clear and effective transmission of information, enhancing the customer experience.
- Building customer trust
SMS offers easy opt-in and opt-out options, building customer trust and loyalty.
Customers are in control of their communication preferences, which can significantly improve their perception of the company, service and brand.
Takeaway: SMS integration is revolutionizing customer communication platforms. With its high open rates, real-time delivery, concise messaging, and ability to connect and build trust, SMS is rapidly becoming an essential tool for businesses aiming to enhance their customer satisfaction and response times and boost engagement.
Contrasting SMS with Email Marketing
It is projected that the number of email users worldwide will reach 4.37 billion in 2023, representing more than half of the global population. - Email user statistics: 2022–2026, Oberlo
With 4 billion users, email provides a vast potential customer base. It's easy to send mass communications, and robust metrics like open rate, bounce rate, conversion rate, and unsubscribe rate are readily available for sales teams to analyze and improve their campaigns.
Besides, emails can be customized to reflect a brand's personality. However, the personal touch offered by SMS, along with its impressive open rates and immediate response time many times, make it a compelling choice over email.
6 Ways How to Use SMS in Guest Communication
The success of any tour or travel business depends significantly on effective customer communications. Whether you are sending out tour reminders, notifications, or asking for feedback - one of the most impactful ways to achieve this is to communicate through SMS.
Here are six ways you can utilize SMS to enhance your customer communication:
- Real-time updates:
Use SMS to send real-time updates about itinerary changes, delays, or emergency alerts. Given the immediacy of text messages, you can ensure guests receive and read your message within minutes.
Send gentle reminders of upcoming activities or payments due. This not only keeps your guests informed but also helps avoid confusion or miscommunication.
- Promotional offers:
Share exclusive deals, discounts, or special offers via SMS. This can significantly boost guest engagement and increase website bookings.
- Feedback requests:
Post-tour, ask your guests for feedback via SMS. It's a quick, convenient method for them to share their experience, and it provides valuable insights for your business.
- Personalized messages:
Adding a personal touch to your communications can enhance the guest experience. Send personalized greetings or suggestions for local attractions to make your guests feel valued.
- Easy Opt-In and Opt-Out:
Make sure your SMS communication strategy allows for easy opt-in and opt-out. This respects your guests' preferences and helps build trust.
Takeaway: Effective communication is the key to creating memorable experiences for your guests. By harnessing the power of SMS, you can ensure timely, efficient, and personalized communication, leading to higher guest satisfaction and engagement.
Case Study: Unstoppable Auto Group
Our team read an interesting case study about the effectiveness of using SMS over email. Although this case study is about an automobile company, the principle of customer communication also applies to tour operations.
Consider how SMS helped Unstoppable Auto Group achieve significant results by using SMS messaging to enhance its business operations.
By implementing Podium Campaigns, they have achieved click-through rates of 20-30% and even sold five cars in one week through a text campaign with a 35% click-through rate.
The number of online reviews across all locations has exceeded 7,000, with one dealership tripling its review count. Unstoppable Auto Group has also experienced a 50% increase in average reviews per month and an 80% increase in reviews when payment requests are sent via text.
Overall, Podium's SMS campaign solution has helped them grow their business, streamline communication, and simplify their operations.
Email Still Works in Guest Communication
While SMS has proven its effectiveness in guest communication, email continues to hold a significant place in this realm. Both methods have their unique strengths, and the choice between them often depends on the context and the specific needs of a campaign.
Consider the benefits of email marketing:
High ROI of email marketing
Email marketing is renowned for its cost-effectiveness for consumers and high Return on Investment (ROI). Recent studies, such as one by Litmus, indicate a staggering $36 return for consumers on each dollar spent, making it a financially sound strategy for tour and travel businesses.
The automation advantage
The ability to automate emails is another strength that makes it an indispensable part of guest communication. From welcome messages to reminders about abandoned bookings, automated emails offer a seamless way to engage and communicate with customers without overwhelming manual effort.
Meeting customer expectations
Email continues to be a primary channel for customers to receive updates and promotions. High open rates for welcome emails, often over 80%, affirm this trend. Ensuring that loyal customers can receive regular updates can improve customer loyalty and engagement, thereby impacting the bottom line positively.
Navigating the drawbacks
While email marketing carries many advantages, it's important to be aware of its limitations. For example, emails generally have lower click-through and open rates than SMS, due to the high volume of emails users receive daily.
However, effective email marketing strategies can help overcome these challenges and ensure your brand message reaches the intended audience.
To sum up: Email still holds a vital place in the toolbox of guest communication strategies. By understanding and leveraging its strengths, businesses and clients in the travel industry can significantly enhance their customer communication and deliver a better guest experience.
Remember, the choice between email and SMS isn't binary - using them in harmony, aligned with their respective strengths, can yield the best results.
Use SMS + Email Together
Tour operators can use the dual approach to strategically leverage the strengths of both SMS and email. Not only will you maximize reach but also cater to the varying communication preferences of customers.
Here are some ideas about using SMS and email together in customer communication:
Boosting crucial metrics
Both SMS and email marketing offer insightful analytics that can help optimize your communication strategy.
SMS excels at improving customer service and response time and rate, while email shines in providing a platform for sharing rich media such as images and videos. They can be employed judiciously to improve specific metrics based on your goals.
Utilizing SMS and email in tandem can bolster your cross-channel marketing efforts. An effective strategy could by hospitality brands would be to send a brief SMS alert about an upcoming announcement, followed by a detailed email.
This tactic not only enhances brand visibility but also piques the curiosity of guests, making them more likely to open the subsequent email.
Reducing cart abandonment rates
Email has traditionally been a tool to prompt customers to complete their booking process. By incorporating SMS into this strategy, the higher open rate of texts can ensure that your reminders are seen and actioned upon.
Compliance with anti-spam laws
Both SMS and email marketing services require compliance with regulations like the CAN-SPAM Act in the US.
Choosing a reliable third-party service can ensure that your communication methods align with the necessary legal requirements.
Growing subscribers across channels
The synergy of SMS and email can be harnessed to expand your subscriber base across multiple platforms. For instance, using your existing email list, you can encourage recipients to opt-in for SMS alerts.
Do it all with TicketingHub's Message Broadcast Feature
With TicketingHub, premier online booking software, tour operators can now easily automate their email and SMS communications.
Whether it's delivering booking confirmations, sending out timely trip reminders, disseminating notifications, or gathering valuable feedback retain customers, TicketingHub seamlessly integrates into your guest communication strategy, enhancing efficiency and customer satisfaction.
See how easy it works in TicketingHub's backend:
Key Takeaway: Enhance Customer Experience Using SMS and Email
In the competitive travel industry, optimal communication is vital. SMS, with high open rates and swift delivery, has emerged as a superior communication channel. It allows businesses to send clear messages quickly, build customer trust, and enhance customer experiences.
SMS is particularly useful for sharing real-time updates, reminders, promotional offers, and personalized messages, and for requesting feedback.
However, email remains a crucial part of customer communication, given its extensive reach, robust analytics, automation capabilities, and its role in meeting customer expectations.
In short, the power of both SMS and email can be harnessed in a complementary way for better customer engagement. Tools like TicketingHub's message broadcast feature can help tour operators automate their email and SMS communications, improving their guest communication strategy and customer satisfaction.
Want to see how TicketingHub can simplify tour operations, boost online bookings, and save you time?
Book a demo here. We'd love to hear from you!
You may also ask ...
1. Why is customer service important in the travel industry?
Excellent customer service in the travel industry drives customer satisfaction, fosters loyalty, and influences repeat business. It's crucial for reputation management and positive word-of-mouth.
2. What are examples of customer service in travel and tourism?
Examples include personalized travel recommendations, 24/7 customer support, timely resolution of issues, regular communication updates, and customized experiences based on guest preferences.
3. How can a travel agency improve customer service?
Travel agencies can improve customer service by providing personalized experiences, offering quick and efficient problem-solving, using technology for seamless bookings, and maintaining consistent, clear communication.