Getting on board with text messaging can help hotels, airlines, and cruise lines take their travel marketing strategies to the next level.
Consumers are increasingly using their mobile devices to research and plan trips. Mobile-first travel bookings are also on the rise and expected to keep growing.
If you run marketing for a travel or hotel brand, SMS marketing offers one of the most effective ways to help you engage with and respond to customers where they spend most of their time.
Check out how SMS early adopters in the travel industry can use personalized text messaging to nurture new customers, increase bookings, and improve trip satisfaction.
How SMS fits into your travel marketing strategy
Text messages have an average 97% read rate within 15 minutes of delivery, and click-through rates for SMS are also high—20-35%.
It’s no wonder hotels, airlines, cruise lines, and others in the travel industry are tapping into SMS to send transactional messages (e.g., booking confirmations) and converse with customers to offer their concierge services.
Consumers are already accustomed to getting these kinds of text messages from travel brands—but transactional updates and customer support only scratch the surface of what the channel can do. With 91% of global consumers already signed up for SMS (or interested in doing so), it's the best way to reach them, whether they're at home, on the go, or on vacation.
Even when they’re “unplugging,” they’re checking their texts, which means you can engage them with timely, personalized messages at any point along their journey. Think: deal alerts, upsell options, and browse abandonment reminders during peak travel times.
Inspire new customers to book a trip
Attracting new customers is important, but it's not just about getting them to use your service. It’s also about building a strong relationship with them from the get-go, so they want to keep coming back and booking trips with you time and time again.
Incentivize SMS opt-ins (and purchases) with special offers
Let’s say someone’s browsing your website for travel inspiration, but isn’t quite ready to book yet. Incentivizing them to sign up for text messages in exchange for an exclusive offer can help get them more invested in finalizing their plans. In fact, SMS is one of the strongest predictors of whether they’ll convert: 87% of US shoppers who are subscribed to a brand’s SMS program are likely to make a purchase.
Keep travelers engaged with content and announcements
Once someone signs up for your text messages, you can keep them engaged with the latest deals and announcements (e.g., about new routes, destinations, or excursions). You can also share destination-specific content with exclusive offers that inspire them to book their first or another trip with you.
Increase reservations and ticket sales
The travel industry is constantly evolving, with new technologies and marketing strategies emerging all the time. SMS has become an increasingly popular (and impactful) tool for travel companies to boost ticket sales and reservations.
Turn browsers into buyers
One of the most effective ways to use SMS to increase sales is by sending triggered browse and cart abandonment messages via text. You can remind customers about the hotel reservations or flights they were interested in, and encourage them to come back and complete their purchase right from their phone. Consider including an incentive, like a discount or special offer, to increase the likelihood of conversion.
Drive urgency with low availability messages
Notify customers when the flight they were looking at or the hotel room they started reserving is about to fill up. These messages trigger when availability drops below a threshold that you choose (e.g., the number of seats on a certain flight or double rooms available on a certain night). Doing this can help create a sense of urgency for them to complete their booking before it's too late.
Increase personalization with targeted campaigns
Incorporate segmentation into your strategy to deliver the right promotions to the right people at the right time. For example, you can use geo-targeting to send relevant offers to subscribers based on their location. Promote a beach vacation package to your customers in the Northeast during the winter months or when a cold front hits the region. Include an enticing photo of a tropical paradise and encourage them to treat themselves to a warm getaway.
Targeted campaigns like this create an emotional connection that drives both immediate sales and long-term loyalty.
Encourage spontaneous travel with time-bound offers
Some people prefer to book their vacations in advance, but for others, a good hotel or flight deal could convince them to take a spontaneous weekend trip. Use the immediacy of text messaging to tap into this impulse-buying behavior and promote time-bound offers, like last-minute deals that people can book on a whim.
Upsell throughout the traveler’s journey
Drive additional revenue and build customer loyalty by promoting upsell offers via text before, during, and after someone's trip to enhance their overall experience with your brand.
Before the trip
While a customer is planning their trip, send them personalized offers that can improve their travel experience. For example, after someone buys their plane ticket or reserves their hotel room, give them a chance to upgrade their seat or secure early check-in for a nominal fee. Another option is to send them a post-purchase message with recommendations for local excursions they can add to their itinerary in advance.
During the trip
Share recommendations and offers based on a traveler's location and preferences during their trip. If you’re a hotel brand, you can send guests a text message after they check-in with a coupon to use at a nearby restaurant. Let them know about any special spa treatments and packages you have available. Suggest local attractions they should be sure to check out during their stay. The day before their departure, you can also promote any transportation services you offer to help make the trip home a little easier.
After the trip
Upsell opportunities don’t end once someone's trip is over. Check in with recent travelers periodically to let them know when you have exciting deals going on and encourage them to book another trip with you again soon. Promote relevant discounts or packages based on someone's travel history (e.g., use this coupon to book your next family vacation), or invite them to join your loyalty program to earn points on their next trip. Post-trip is also a good time to send a quick customer satisfaction survey or ask for a review through SMS.
Discover more strategies for using SMS to connect with travelers, drive more sales, and boost brand loyalty.