Hotel and Resort Marketing: The Text Marketing Quick-Start Guide
Marketing a hotel or resort can be difficult. There often isn't a huge difference in the amenities your company offers versus the one across the street. So how do you differentiate?
The key is to make the guest experience better than the alternatives. Increasingly, hospitality businesses are finding that the best way to do that is through text message marketing.
Skift, a renowned travel industry media source recently proclaimed that more and more hotels are "realizing the importance of messaging to building loyalty, increasing guest engagement, and enhancing the overall guest experience."
Hospitality companies are not only using Short Message Service (SMS) texts to deliver offers to opted-in loyalty program members but are leveraging text as a means of communication with guest services during their stay through a virtual concierge system.
Guests are responding positively. Take this TripAdvisor review of a stay at DoubleTree in Denver as an example:
"Loved the text message I got after I checked in seeing if I needed anything and to text anytime with any needs and questions. Staff had gone above and beyond to attend to special requests."
In this quick-start guide, we'll show you the what, why, and how of text message marketing for hotels and resorts and put you in a position to delight your guests and beat the competition.
Improve the Experience with Text Messages
What is Text Message Marketing?
Text message marketing is when an organization sends a single text to many contacts at once. To do text marketing, you'll have to use an SMS marketing platform (like us).
You have to have specific permission to send marketing text messages. You can't send marketing texts to contacts just because you have their number.
Other general regulations and best practices are available in the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) Short Code Monitoring Handbook.
We offer a more robust set of text marketing best practices resource here.
Related Reading: Why SMS is Perfect for the Hospitality Industry
The Text Messaging Playbook for Hotels and Resorts
Text Message Marketing Works for Hotels and Resorts
One of the major reasons mass texting works well for resorts and hotels is that the channel has extraordinary open and engagement rates.
An internal study revealed that 98% of messages sent from our platform are read. Another analysis showed that 90% of contacts read text messages within the first three minutes of receipt. Those rates are roughly five times better than you get with email and are just a sampling of the impressive text message marketing statistics.
Guests are open to text messages from hotels and resorts because the nature of hospitality is personal. They trust their lodging providers and pay attention to their communications.
One of the factors which lead to success with text marketing for hotels and resorts is personalization. Use contact groups wisely and make sure that the messages you send will be relevant to each contact.
A representative from La Quinta Inn recently emphasized this important point. "You may get all these text messages from hotels, but you really only want certain ones that are going to be relevant for you. So personalization is key."
Related Reading: 4 Tips for Turning One-Time Guests into Loyal Customers
How Text Marketing Works
SMS marketing messages are delivered from a five or six digit short code. Short codes can be rented by a single organization (dedicated short codes) or shared by many companies (shared short codes). Short codes can be expensive to secure, so most organizations use a shared short code (such as 313131) through a mass texting software provider. Our 313131 shared short code is the most used of any service provider and is in the top 10 most popular for all short codes.
The best way to grow your opt-in list is to use an incentive to join along with a Keyword and short code combination. You've probably seen offers such as . . .
"Text 'OFFERS' to 313131 to get 20% off your first stay."
Marketers post these opt-in offers wherever possible, both on-premises and online. Hotels and resorts use a variety of incentives to get people to join their text marketing lists. We'll show some examples below. Managing text message marketing campaigns is similar to conducting email marketing. With the right software provider, you can . . .
- Write messages from scratch or use templates to get started
- Send to segmented groups of contacts
- Schedule sends ahead of time
- Set messages to go out at recurring intervals
- Use a landline phone number to chat with contacts 1-to-1
- Send reminders to guests
- Deliver instant auto-responder texts when contacts opt-in
- Poll contacts to learn their preferences
- Conduct contests
- Deliver drip campaigns
Related Reading: How the Hospitality Industry Can Use Mobile Marketing
Examples of Successful Hotel and Resort Marketing with Text Messages
The best way to get off to a fast start is to learn from the experience of other hospitality marketers. Here are a few examples of some successful strategies executed by hotels and resorts.
Wyndham Hotels St. Patrick's Day Offers
Wyndham Hotels recently leveraged the St. Patrick's Day holiday to deliver exceptional offers via text to boost what is normally a down period for travel. The company provided 13 exclusive deals (playing on the "luck of the Irish" theme).
Those who sign up for text alerts today will find their message inbox filled with St. Patrick’s Day-themed clues foreshadowing a secret location, at which travelers will be able to book a resort stay with a massive 70 percent off discount.
Grand Pacific Resorts Exchange Program
Grand Pacific Resorts uses an exchange program to keep options interesting for their loyal customers. This program gives members flexibility in adjusting their reservations and free gifting of weeks to family and friends. Grand Pacific delivers special offers for this program through text marketing.
Text BONUS to 313131 to receive advance notice of sales and more.
La Quinta "Ready For You" Alerts
La Quinta guests have fallen in love with the "Ready For You" text program. When guests reserve rooms on lq.com, they can opt to receive a text message when the room has been prepped and is available for check-in. That way guests don't have to waste time waiting if they arrive early.
“Ready For You allows indication for what time you plan on arriving at the hotel, that way, if the hotel still has a vacancy, you can be alerted to check in early.”
Ocean Front Malibu "Text Your Way to the Beach" Special
Who doesn't want to go to Malibu in February? We all do, but sometimes we need a little incentive. Malibu Beach Inn recently used text messaging to give a lift to the sometimes slow period on the calendar. Guests who texted 'LUXURY' to 313131 received an automatic 15% off and an exclusive in-room surprise. Jill Allison Jennings, General Manager at the Malibu Beach Inn, describes the attractiveness of the offer:
“With the ‘Text Your Way to the Beach’ special, slipping away to paradise is as easy as picking up your phone."
Universal Orlando Resort Mardi Gras Offer
Universal Orlando Resort pulled out all the stops to boost reservations for Mardi Gras. With their limited time Mardi Gras celebration, they gave away fantastic prizes to the Universal Studios theme park. The company used the contest to gather email addresses as well as text message opt-ins.
To participate in the contest, text the word UNIVERSAL to 313131 with your complete name and email address.
Text Concierge Services
USA Today recently reported on the growing trend of hotels offering concierge services through text messaging.
“Some people, especially in today’s age, prefer to text rather than have face-to-face communication,” says Rick Takach, CEO of Vesta Hospitality, a hotel ownership group. “It is a convenience for the guest. Many times guests do not want to get on the phone, or have a hassle with talking to people, so they send a text.”
“Texting is something all people are used to, so it is not only convenient for them but allows us to convey information in an easier way,” Noah Lemaich, chief concierge at Sixty Hotels, says. “For concierge services, it is more efficient to use texting rather than give them a piece of paper with a dinner reservation or directions, for example. We can text someone an address, they click it, and off they go.”
The Text Messaging Playbook for Hotels and Resorts
Text Message Playbook to Win at Hospitality Marketing
As you begin hotel and resort marketing through text messaging, you'll want to develop your own customized text campaign playbook which you can leverage over and over again.
As a leader in the text marketing space for over a decade, we've seen what works for hospitality companies and what doesn't. To help you get started quickly, we put together a free Text Message Marketing Playbook for Hotels and Resorts which you can access instantly.
In this playbook, you'll see which texts to send to accomplish your goals. You can copy and customize the templates for these texts to make them work for your organization. Access the playbook here.