Launching And Managing Your Hotel’s SMS/Text Messaging Campaign

Launching And Managing Your Hotel’s SMS/Text Messaging Campaign

For most people a text message is a very personal form of communication.  This personal nature means, if you get a text, you will absolutely will read it and engage, even if that engagement .

NB: This is an article from Fuel Travel

This means, as a hotel, you have an amazing opportunity to communicate to your guest… and along with that opportunity comes a great responsibility.

Hotels can (hopefully) use SMS/text messaging responsibly to engage guests before, during, and after a stay. In this article we are going to review why creating an SMS strategy makes sense, how to implement, and examples of it working effectively.

Four Reasons Your Hotel Needs An SMS Communications Strategy

Guest Engagement

When someone visits your property, for vacation or business, they are going to be 100% engaged in the stay.  A simple welcome message can go a long way to creating good will and a strong relationship.  Engaging your guests with a text campaign is not without risk though, you will want to carefully monitor performance so you are not becoming a bother to your guests.  We will cover how you can effectively engage your guest a little farther down in this article.

Increased Revenue

A direct line to your guest is an amazing tool that has the potential to drive direct revenue on property.  Depending on your specific needs a pre-arrival upgrade message, app download promotion, or late check out alert can all be excellent ways to drive incremental revenue while engaging with your guest in a one-to-one relationship.

Proven Performance

Just as in the example here, a well-thought-out SMS/text campaign can significantly improve hotel operations.  For instance Fuel created and launched a post-stay survey alert upon check out asking for guests to review their stay.  The results were definitive.  Prior to the implementation of a text campaign, through email alone, this property would receive an average of 2.6 guest surveys per day.  After launching an SMS message with a trackable link they were able to double their response rate to 5 surveys per day.

Affordable

Text messaging systems, such as Twilio, integrate into your email platform and can be triggered much like a traditional email message.  With pricing starting at less than 1 cent ($0.0075 to be exact).  This is a far less than what an SMS campaign would have cost years ago and makes it an affordable solution for engaging your guests.

Implementing A Hotel SMS/Text Messaging Strategy

A communication tool is only as effective as your ability to implement it into your existing marketing efforts.  In the past this is where text or SMS messaging have always fallen flat.  Between a lack of integration with existing systems and difficulty setting up and managing forced most hoteliers to avoid SMS in favor of easier platforms.

If this is your current opinion… It’s time for a change.  Setting up and implementing your hotel’s texting systems is easier than ever.

Step #1: Ensure Your Hotel is Gathering Phone Numbers

This one should go without saying, you’re not going to be able to message someone if you don’t have their mobile number.  During your booking process, ensure you are capturing a mobile number and storing that along with the guest reservation information in the PMS.  Obviously you’ll also want this to be carried over to your email platform.  If your PMS is not setup to feed guest information to your email platform that’s a problem and should be addressed.

Step #2: Does Your Existing Email Platform Support SMS?

This is a critical step and if your email delivery platform does not support SMS integration, it may be time to look at making a change.  If you’re one of the many smart hoteliers who use a system like the Fuel AI-Powered CRM you are already 90% of the way setup.  If this is the case, we will work with you to setup the system to seamlessly integrate SMS components into your platform.

As is the case with any platform, the backbone of the delivery will be handled by an SMS service, such as Twilio, but the triggering and message development will all be handled on the email platform side.  Just like with email, this ensures maximum deliverability and the lowest costs possible.

Step #3: Setup Your Automated Messaging

We will go into the types of automated messages in a bit, but in this step you will want to understand what messages your guests will want, when they will want them, and how those messages should be triggered. We have found that the following tips are most effective in delivering effective SMS/text messaging to your guests.

  • You should NOT blanket message your database or guest history… EVER.  I would suggest you write that on a post-it and stick to your screen.  Rely on email, social, paid search, and other tools to drive bookings.  Use your text messaging to maximize the relationship during a guest’s stay cycle.  You will absolutely do damage to your list and relationship by randomly texting guests with your latest new deal.
  • Develop strategies to deliver real value through your SMS/text campaigns at the right point in their stay journey.  A text that is blatantly self serving or texting for the sake of texting will ultimately be a negative.
  • Consider what are your most important messages you want to convey to a guest and limit your SMS/texts to those items.
  • While most devices can receive very long messages, the rule of thumb is still 160 characters or less.  This includes spaces and links.
  • Opt to shorten links as much as possible. This can be done within your texting platform or through services like Bit.ly.
  • Always include an opt out message like “Reply STOP to unsubscribe.”

Step #4: Reporting and Improving

Once your messaging is setup and rolling you will want to carefully monitor and optimize your campaigns based on performance.  While the costs of SMS services is lower than ever if you are sending multiple messages to every guest you can accidentally rack up a pretty nice bill.  It’s well worth it when it is working, just make sure it is working.

5 SMS/Text Messages Every Hotel Should Be Using

Alright, now it’s time to get down to business.  We know we should be using SMS/texting to communicate with our guests.  We know how to setup  and use the platform.  Now we need to know what to send.  Fear not, fellow hotel marketer.  These five messages will engage your guest and drive revenue.

Pre-Arrival Message

Your guest is in the process of packing, working on getting to the property, and likely has a lot on their mind.  This is when you can first contact them via SMS and let them know you are there to help.  If you have a hotel mobile app (hint: we suggest you do), this is the perfect time to promote that as well.

Example: Hi {{firstname}}, we are looking forward to seeing you tomorrow. Reply if we can help, or download our app today: hotelsite.com/app. Reply STOP to unsubscribe.

Welcome Message

Let your guest know they’re welcome and you’re here to help after they check in.  This is a common message that you may have received yourself at any of the major flagged hotels and larger resorts.

Example: Hi {{firstname}}, welcome to {{hotelname}}! We hope you enjoy your stay. Our concierge is here for you, text us if we can be of service. Reply STOP to unsubscribe.

Check Out Message

The check out message is an excellent opportunity to thank a guest for a stay, but even more importantly drive an extended stay or late check out.

Example: We hope you enjoyed your stay at {{hotelname}}! Would you enjoy a late checkout? Call the front desk at #123 to stay an hour later. Reply STOP to unsubscribe.

Post Stay Survey Message

The post stay text is one of the most effective ways of solicit your guests to leave a review.  In the example above we have proven that a simple text request can double the conversion rate of your post stay surveys.  This is an excellent way to address any customer service issues and ensure your guests had a great experience.

Example: Thank you for staying with us at {{hotelname}}, we hope it was amazing.  Please help us make your next stay even better with this brief survey: hotelsite.com/survey. Reply STOP to unsubscribe.

Wait! Why No 5th Message?

That’s right, there is no 5th message.  Why?  Because we effectively communicated with our guest with just four messages.  Remember with something as personal as a text we want to respect our guest’s time and attention.  If a message is not necessary don’t send it.

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