It feels like text messaging has been around since the dawn of time. In fact, the first text message was sent in 1992, from Neil Papworth wishing Richard Jarvis “Merry Christmas” 1. It was written on a computer because mobile telephones did not yet have keyboards that made it possible to write messages 2.
Although initial take up was slow, the service boomed in 1999, when it was finally possible to send a text message across different phone networks. Since then, SMS has become more and more widely used. It reached a milestone in 2007 when Americans’ usage of SMS surpassed phone calls for the first time and in 2015, an impressive 8.3 trillion texts were sent worldwide 3.
Today, even though the average smartphone has a host of different applications and uses, SMS is still the most widely and frequently used app. It has, therefore, truly withstood the often-harsh test of time in the technology world and is far from being a thing of the past. Our earlier blog post discusses the importance of messaging, however it is clear that this particular messaging channelSMS deserves a post of its own.
WHY IS SMS SO POPULAR?
So what is it about SMS that makes it such an effective method of communication? Research shows an astonishing open rate, resting at 98% for SMS in comparison to only 20% for emails 5. This suggests that people are much more inclined to take notice of a text than an email thus making it one of the most efficient ways to get in touch with others. It offers a quick way of communicating, taking the average person only 90 seconds to respond to a text message, a stark difference to the average 90 minutes it takes to reply to an email 6.
Similarly, SMS allows users to communicate in real time with their friends, family and colleagues. Questions can be answered in a matter of seconds, with news communicated at the click of a button. It is also less invasive than phone calls, rather than having to stop what you’re doing and focus your attention on the caller, you can simply type out a quick answer and then get back to what you were doing.
WHY IS SMS IMPORTANT FOR THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY?
Considering it is such an important and personal channel of communication, it has taken the hotel industry surprisingly long to take advantage of text messaging.
It only takes a few seconds to send a text message, and in theose few seconds so many problems can be solved and questions answered. Furthermore, by talking to their guests in real time, using the same channel that guests use to talk to their friends, hotels can communicate with guests in a much more personal manner.
Moreover, many tour operators and online travel agencies (OTAs) do not pass on guests’ email addresses to hotels and instead only disclose their telephone numbers. Sending text messages is therefore one of the only viable ways for hotels to get in touch with guests.
What is more, millennials are becoming an increasingly important demographic for hotels and research suggests that millennials tend to be glued to their phones, sending on average of 67 text messages a day 7. Therefore, it would seem that by focusing on SMS, hotels can use SMS to target this important and influential demographic.
HOW CAN HOTELS USE SMS?
Interacting with guests in real time
Travellers and hotels can chat with each other in real time using SMS. The guest can text reception if they have any questions or special requests, from information about local tourist attractions to ordering a taxi, and the hotel can respond accordingly, speedily and easily.
Setting up automated messages
The hotel can also set up an automated system to send text messages to their guests according to certain scenarios. For example, if the room status changes in the PMS, a text can be sent to the guest telling them that their room is ready. This allows for a personalised service without needing extra manpower; the hotel does not have to lift a finger.
Sending prewritten text messages
Another way to facilitate the sending of text messages is by setting up prewritten text messages for frequently asked questions, such as when breakfast starts. This saves the hotel time when responding to guest requests.
Text messages can be used to send links to online forms through which guests can order additional services and complete an online check-in, all of which also helps collect guest data. Due to the high open rate, each text message carries considerable leverage.
Here are a few example text messages that are useful to send to guests:
- One day before a guest’s arrival, invite your guests to fill in a prestay form so that they can prepare their arrival and buyso you can sell them your additional services:
“Dear Mr Smith, your stay at the Coast Hotel begins tomorrow, please fill in this form to best prepare your stay: …”
- On the morning of their arrival:
“We are all looking forward to welcoming you from 2pm onwards, simply reply to this text with any questions you may have. See you soon!”
- During their stay:
“Dear guest, please find our restaurant menu below: …”
Text messaging is clearly an important and unique opportunity for hotels to increase efficiency and offer their guests an even more personalised service. We, here at LoungeUp, are excited by this prospect and have created a service whereby everything above is possible and more.
Through LoungeUp you can not only send text messages, set up scenarios and prewritten messages but you can also manage all conversations that have taken place with each guest in the same place, no matter what communication channel was used (SMS, instant messaging, email…). This ensures that all the information you need to know about your guests can be accessed in the quickest and easiest way, so that you can provide each guest with a perfectly personalised service.There is also an integrated translation tool, so that not even the language barrier can stop you!
If you are already using the LoungeUp Guest Portal to interact with your guests, the portal’s existing messaging channel will be synchronised with the SMS module. This means that a conversation that is started via SMS can be continued via the app’s chat function, and both the guest and the hotel have access to past conversations.
Text messaging is now the most popular communication channel around, followed closely by direct messaging (such as facebook messaging). We understand that it can be difficult for hotels to manage all the separate communication channels used by their guests, especially if they are not used to these kinds of tools. This will be the subject of a future post, be sure to get in touch to find out more!
- Times of India : http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/UK-hails-10th-birthday-of-SMS/articleshow/30216466.cms
- The Week : http://theweek.com/articles/469869/text-message-turns-20-brief-history-sms.
- Portio Research : http://www.xconnect.net/wp-content/uploads/worldwide-sms-markets-portio-strikeiron.pdf
- Pew Internet : http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/01/us-smartphone-use-in-2015/
- Mobile Marketing Watch : http://mobilemarketingwatch.com/sms-marketing-wallops-email-with-98-open-rate-and-only-1-spam-43866/
- CTIA : http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/24082/9-Amazing-Mobile-Marketing-Statistics-Every-Marketer-Should-Know.aspx
- Business Insider : http://www.businessinsider.com/chart-of-the-day-number-of-texts-sent-2013-3?IR=T
Written by Giselle and Celia