Messenger Marketing, WhatsApp and Chatbots in Tourism

 In Chatbots

Travel operators, hotels, destinations & attractions – they all use messenger marketing and take a first step towards chatbots in tourism. On the occasion of the Social Media Travel Day 2017, we took a closer look at different providers and offers of the tourism industry. In the course of our tourism special we also spoke with absolute professionals on messenger marketing – the HolidayPirates with over 750.000 subscribers.

The fact that messengers are gaining ground worldwide is no big news anymore. The fact that 1.3 billion people use WhatsApp and 1.2 billion people use Facebook Messenger every month is nevertheless astonishing. Worldwide, the messenger usage is tremendous and WhatsApp is market leader by far – with 60 percent of users! In contrast, snapchat is among the lowest ranks with only 2 percent of users.

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By using WhatsApp as a channel for customer communication, we gained more subscribers within 14 months than with six years of e-mail marketing” says Daniel Palm, Senior CRM Manager of the HolidayPirates.


Tourism in 2017: Digital first and constantly generating new ideas is essential!

The travel sector has undergone a rapid and very interesting development in the recent years. I myself haven’t stepped into a travel agency over the last few years and I know from family members and friends of my own, that the whole customer journey (even though they wouldn’t term it that way) now takes places digitally.

Tourism companies have a distinct advantage over other industries: they own a positive product (everybody likes holidays) and they have wonderful content (no matter if it’s about a hotel or an operator – they all can tell nice stories and supply great pictures).

It’s all about content distribution – so how do I get my awesome content to my target group?

For a long time, Facebook has been the top dog an measure of all things in social media marketing, because it not only provided reach but also enabled conversion for the purpose of traffic. In contrast, Instagram as a platform provides wide reach and engagement, especially for travel content, but is not suitable for selling trips. Less and less reach is available for free on Facebook anymore! Current tests reveal that it is impossible for companies to get any more reach for free on Facebook.

 

Time to take a closer look at the advantages of messenger platforms, such as WhatsApp and Facebook!


WhatsApp in tourism – the perfect channel for content distribution, creating offers and information services!

Along with hotels like Wellness Hotel Berghof, travel operators like Aldiana or Vision Cruise, travel destinations like New York City or Stubaier Glacier and transport operators like Deutsche Bahn,  bookingwebsites like the HolidayPirates or Urlaubsguru are already our customers.

 

Because the advantages of content distribution and creating offers via WhatsApp are obvious.

  • widest target group in age and gender (WhatsApp is used intensively by all age groups – in Germany alone, WhatsApp records a 40 million active users per month)
  • 95% in reach among subscribers (in contrast to an estimated 10% with Facebook)
  • especially in tourism, clickrates of up to 70 – 80 % are not uncommon
  • news in real time! 90 percent of all news are opened and read within the first 15 minutes (which other medium could claim such opening rates …)

Which applications are possible for messenger marketing in the tourism industry?

  • Distributing content: no other medium manages to get this close to customers as WhatsApp does, it is virtually always in the customers pocket. This direct link to the customer is most appropriate for distributing travel information, current pictures (snow conditions/weather/event), image videos or travel reports for example.
  • Communicating current offers: No other medium manages to reach users this fast, this exact and this relevant like WhatsApp does. The HolidayPirates recognised this potential early, now they have gained more than 700.000 subscribers and yield exetremely high click rates.
  • Customer support in one-on-one communication: of course, the effort required for customer services with one-on-one communication is immense, but by building a simple chatbot it requires much less expense. In the light of past experience, 80 percent of the customer’s questions remain the same and can therefore be answered – static or dynamic – by a chatbot effortlessly. And if the chatbot reaches it’s end, the customer service staff can take over and answer more specific questions . There are some good examples of chatbots, who can answer a great variety of user requests – and when more difficult questions raise, a customer service employee will answer personally.
  • chatbots as booking platforms: chatbots can easily assist the customer in booking a trip by presenting an preselection  based on previously answered questions and presenting only relevant offers. Sina from HLS has been one of the first successfull chatbots. Out of 1.5 million components she was able to build and offer relevant travel offers to the customer – just by asking him targeted questions. Out of the most relevant offers Sina presented three best all-inclusive offers each, which could be booked directly.

“Sina enables a faster and more direct communication with the customer” mentions Thilo Gaul, director at HLX Touristiks GmbH, on the occasion of the official launch of Sina in April 2017 and adds: “chatbots will make decisive changes in future customer communication”.


Missed our expert’s lecture on this topic but yet interested? Watch the whole presentation with Daniel Palm from the HolidayPirates here:


Where do WhatsApp and Messenger users come from?

Neither WhatsApp nor Facebook Messenger offer such thing as a profile or even just kind of a discover feature so far. Therefore, it is difficult for interested users and customers to even learn about existing services in messenger. Companies have to advertise to draw attention to their services. Here are some more tips from Daniel:

  • Your landingpage must be optimized and all relevant informations, such as the offered additional value, data privacy and the main information about the subscription, must be made visible.
  • Your widget is extremely important, for this is where your users subsribe to your service. We at HolidayPirates adjusted our WhatsBroadcast widget for matching our CI better.
  • We use our other touchpoints regularly, like e-mail newsletter and Facebook, to convert these users into WhatsApp subscribers, too.

 

You want more helpful advices? We summed up valuable advices here: How to get more subscribers for WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger!


Messenger in the tourism industry – summary:

We are only at the beginning of a long and adventurous journey!

The tourism industry should take messenger marketing serious and consider it as a worthy part of every digital strategy. Especially the combination of great content and current offers makes WhatsApp the principal channel since facebook. It still needs improvement to offer the same service via chat and chatbot as services via telephone and e-mail – but chatbots can help quickly, easily and professionally.


Daniel Palm’s (HolidayPirates) and Matthias Mehner’s (MessengerPeople) presentation can be found here on slideshare


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