Messenger Marketing Strategy | 100% Effective Techniques to Increase Bookings

Messenger Marketing Strategy | 100% Effective Techniques to Increase Bookings

Messenger marketing is slowly (but steadily) turning out to be one of the most important marketing channels within the tourism and hospitality industry. A well-defined messenger marketing strategy can help a tourism business increase the customer footfall and even boost online bookings.

The modern-buyer has evolved. Their buying habits have changed. With everything available on the fingertips, buyers are gradually becoming more interested in real-time services. They aren’t eager to wait. And, before considering a service provider, they make sure to gather as much details as possible about the brand.

With Facebook and Instagram, a lot of tourism service providers, irrespective of their size, were able to increase their sales. However, these platforms are gradually filling in with more competitors, and with each passing minute, the competition just gets tougher. From generic posts to personalized conversations – online marketing has evolved for the better.

In this article, let’s tell you more about how to leverage your business using effective messenger marketing strategy and custom chatbots in promoting your tourism services.

Chatbots in Tourism Industry

What are chatbots – this is probably the first question that came to your mind. Well, chatbots are software that handles online conversations with minimal need of human intervention. This smart tech convincingly simulates how a human would react (and answer) customer queries. That’s why chatbots are also called “conversational agents“.

Although it sounds geeky, chatbots are quite easy to configure on your own (well, the easiest way is getting a helping hand from the Messenger Marketing professionals).

Chatbots must be a part of the Messenger marketing strategy for every travel and hospitality brand where delivering personalized experiences go a long way in building brand loyalty and customer retention. As more and more of the tourism industry is starting to adopt Messenger Marketing, the demand and use of chatbots is seeing an exponential growth as well.

If numbers really matter to you, you should already know that Facebook has the highest number of monthly active users. Would you let go off the chance to market your product/service before 1.3 billion active users?

How does it all connect?

We have the core – messenger marketing.

Messenger marketing is a lot like email marketing, but with a lot more of Artificial Intelligence (AI) than email. It helps automate business processes which save you time, effort, and money.

Messenger allows businesses to connect with customers and leads conversationally. That’s why 63% of users believe that businesses should be on Messenger. Small businesses can use it to build trust and relationships as Messenger is a more personal approach and a two-way communication channel. Messenger allows you to automate responses and such. You can program what responses a customer should get when they connect with your brand online.

Chatbots are growing up as fast as boutique hotels and budget airlines as messaging becomes part of the travel experience. Instead of calling, luxury hotel guests are tweeting to the front desk. Airlines direct consumer complaints to communications channels— owned as well as OTT (over – the-top)—before telephone and email. Think of a chatbot as a personal assistant who is able to respond to inquiries or give real-time suggestions on a particular topic.

Chatbots in Tourism | Messenger Marketing Strategy for Your Target Audience

If you think about it, there are 4 important stages in every traveler’s buying journey. These are –

  1. Pre-Stay
  2. Pre-Flight
  3. In-Stay
  4. Post-Trip

Pre-Stay

This is the window-shopping phase. It is the first-step of a customer in the process of lookers to bookers. In this phase, the potential buyer does a lot of research and has a lot of queries. You never know who is looking at your tourism agency or at what time. What if you’re asleep and someone posts a query? Marketing is all about being at the right place at the right time.

Online travel agencies, hotels, airlines use SMS, WhatsApp, WeChat, and Messenger in addition to deploying custom chatbots. Earlier it was a session-based chat option wherein a live HUMAN agent used to answer queries. But, it is now giving way to AI-based chatbots that are omnichannel, asynchronous, and persistent.

Chatbots are capable of starting (and leading) conversations with customers 24×7, guiding them with their queries. It is instantaneous, thus minimizes the chances of a missed lead or a customer bouncing off just because they have to wait for an answer.

Pre-Flight

In this phase, the customer is looking to book a cheap and best flight. Airlines and OTA’s are the biggest frenemies, always competing on offering the better convenience for price. The initial research phase is the best opportunity to connect and convert a prospect.

messenger marketing strategy - Juliet, chatbot of WestJet
Juliet in Action

Messenger marketing strategy integrated with Chatbots allows for very rapid and accurate search during the initial search stage. Instead of navigating through menu options and filters, you can type in natural language — “next weekend in Bali near the beach with Free WiFi below $300” — and get the results you’re looking for instantly.

For instance, Canadian Airline’s Juliet (Facebook Messenger Chatbot) allows travelers to book flight without having to open multiple tabs. It finds flights, answers questions, and hands travelers off to live agents for more specific queries.

Even, Malaysian Airlines lets customers research, book, and pay right from Facebook Messenger. Their chatbot, named MH Chats Messenger bot is adaptive to the customer’s needs. It has a lot of quick links and tap targets for easy navigation which ensures that the customer is engaged, and helps them make a booking without being persuasive or intrusive.

The timely responses and ease-of-use are two major factors that had 46% of surveyed customers agree to interact with a chatbot if it meant faster service.

As more and more big names in the industry embrace chatbots in their Messenger marketing strategy, it is time that you too ride this trend for growing your tourism business. Delta Air and Lufthansa are already testing newer chatbots that will take all the stress away from their human agents, and in turn provide lightning fast and value-added personalized services to their customers. No doubt, 70% of the travelers prefer to be notified via messaging.

In-Stay

Personalized service is the best way!

This is the stage of the travel journey where we see most, and for good reason, customer conversations happening. As the key competitive differentiator, according to Walker, a CX consultancy firm, 2020 will be the year customer experience will surpass price and even product.

For tourism and hospitality-related agencies who care about providing authentic and emotionally-impactful customer experiences, messenger marketing is the ideal medium. And, leading this is the 58-year old brand Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts. They built a complete messenger-based concierge service across their 118 global properties. Starting with an integrated live chat app, they have extended across to Messenger, WeChat, and WhatsApp. Even Marriott adopted Alexa for Hospitality in 2018. All of their rooms are connected to Amazon Echo, thus allowing customers to perform multiple tasks right from their beds.

When a customer is in your hotel/resort, it is the best time to cater to their needs timely so they build a trust in your services. Chatbots need to be a part of your messenger marketing strategy if you want to increase customer satisfaction rates, Net promoter score, and service-delivery rates. It will help you ensure that a one-time customer gets converted into a long-term returning customer.

Post Trip

This is the final stage of a traveler’s journey. But, customer service doesn’t stop here. In this phase, you might want to reach out to the customers and remind them how glad you were to be of service. This is where you strengthen your relationship with the customer with an aim to have them consider you the next time, or recommend you to their friends and families.

What if a customer left something while they checked-out? A personalized message from your end can go a long way in strengthening their trust. Or, what if they weren’t much satisfied with their stay? A personalized apology alongside a lucrative offer might force the customer to reconsider booking with you one more time.

The post-trip phase also supplements brand discovery. Well-scripted feedback questionnaires can help you figure out the possible problems. Plus, you get the benefit of keeping an open communication channel, thus increasing customer retention rates.

Messenger Marketing Strategy – How Chatbots Are Changing the Tourism Industry?

Travelers are constantly increasing their need for knowledge. Besides the increasing demand for more meaningful travel experiences, they also want to meet the demand for connectivity and interaction across all media and channels for travel destinations and companies.

Here’s how chatbots in tourism are shaping a new vertical –

  • Chatbots are suitable for companies and customer-centric destinations. They will act as customer service experts on the 24/7 front end. Gone are the days of your blog, website, and social media platform responding manually to comments and inquiries.
  • When time spent on hold waiting for inquiries to be answered is reduced / removed, customers can be served quickly.
  • Chatbots directly reduce overhead costs (manpower and CSRs)
  • Chatbots are able to completely transform visitor service after hours in destinations. Frequently asked questions and queries can be answered at any time of day or night, including when travelers arrive at a destination and the visitor information center / accommodation center is closed down.
  • Responses can be automated using smart chatbots which can perform basic information requests efficiently. In Fast messaging, chatbots are the “fast.”
  • Chatbots help manage relationships. As counter-intuitive as it sounds, bots are great at managing human relationships. Chatbots will complement the whole travel experience with intelligent pre-programming, starting with automated pre-arrival reminders, to recommend nearby entertainment spots and transportation facilities at destination.

By using smart chatbots to respond to traveler inquiries, you will be able to concentrate on other opportunities such as mapping plans to improve repeat business and build loyalty for future travel.

Need a chatbot integrated in your messenger marketing strategy? It is indeed a great investment that guarantees increased customer satisfaction rates. Get yours now!

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