Guest Post: How’s your text life?

Despite technological advances, the humble text message is still an invaluable form of communication, says Collstream’s Ian Maxfield

The boom in communications has been nothing short of astonishing – first there were computers, then phones you could carry, then email and the internet. And in the past 10 years it all converged, merged, joined forces and grew. Exponentially. Speed and size (the quicker and smaller the better) were not only de rigueur but also an essential part of a communications strategy. And here we are today with an explosion in mobile communications.

Its impact has transformed our lifestyles and the industry – the travel industry without exception: how we search for hotels, flights and accommodation, how we book holidays, communicate with each other and our suppliers, how we shop and the make-up of our high streets.

The array of new technology available can be bewildering, with best practice and common concepts changing from day to day. From apps and mobile-optimised websites to geolocation and augmented reality – you’d be forgiven for getting confused.

So it’s worth pointing out there is a simple, tried-and-tested technology that won’t cost the earth and is simple to implement – the lowly text message.

The beauty of a text message is that it’s so simple, versatile, cost-effective and any phone can receive one.

Hotels, agents and operators use it for many reasons: upselling, cross-selling, confirming bookings, reminders and promotional offers, and as a communications tool it’s unbeatable.

Campaigns to thousands of hotel guests and simple one-off messages can all be automated and personalised. URLs can be included, campaigns tracked and the return on investment on each campaign measured.

But it’s also a two-way conversation. Customers can text into you about problems and for updates and queries.

Whether it’s informing clients the room is ready, upselling a tour during their holiday, or sending insurance details, it is an incredibly useful tool for a hotel and accommodation provider and it can be easily integrated into CRM systems and call centre operations.

For call centres it’s great. They are often at the heart of a hotel group or tour operation and much of their work is customer service. However, much activity often revolves around outbound calls. A simple text or voice message could suffice.

Promotional messages can drive inbound traffic at 15-40% of a campaign. Also, over 95% of messages are read within minutes of receipt. Apart from a phone call, no other form of communication even comes close.

Imagine being on holiday when disaster strikes: a volcano erupts, swine flu breaks out or a hurricane grounds all aircraft. A series of text messages could easily allay fears and keep customers up to date with flight details, contact numbers and accommodation.

We’re not saying send out as many messages as you can. It must be selective – used as an integral part of a communications strategy and across sales and customer services – otherwise you could annoy people.

Used along with other forms of communications the combination is formidable.

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