Adding a personal touch with messenger apps for marketing

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Who could have foreseen that messenger apps would grow to rival mainstream social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? It is true. Messenger apps such as WhatsApp have caught up to what society perceives as the main social networks in terms of users and are the new hot marketing tool.

According to Hootsuite, when it comes to messenger tools, WhatsApp is the frontrunner worldwide with an estimated 1.5-billion active monthly users. Now, imagine making your marketing message heard to even a fraction of that kind of market penetration?

You may be asking yourself how, especially in travel marketing, is this even be possible. Don’t people hate being added to group chats?

Like any new service, there are pros and cons, risks and rewards, but it warrants further investigation.

Here is a look at how WhatsApp can be used in travel marketing and a few points to get marketers started.

Why messenger marketing?

WhatsApp insists that travel and 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),” the company says.

The advantages of content distribution and creating offers via WhatsApp for travel and tourism are obvious, especially when it comes to personal experience:

  • Widest target group in age and gender (WhatsApp is used intensively by all age groups – in Germany alone, WhatsApp records 40-million active users per month)
  • 95 percent in reach among subscribers (in contrast to an estimated 10 percent with Facebook)
  • Especially in tourism, click rates of up to 70 – 80 percent are not uncommon
  • News in real time… 90 percent of all news-related messages are opened and read within the first 15 minutes.

What other media could claim such opening rates?

Which applications can be used for messenger marketing for travel?

There are a variety of applications. Below is a list provided by Whatsapp:

Distributing content: As is the case with WhatsApp, it is virtually always in the customer’s 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.

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 its end, the customer service staff can take over and answer more specific questions. There are some good examples of chatbots that can answer a great variety of user requests – and when more difficult questions arise, a customer service employee will answer personally.

Chatbots as booking platforms

Chatbots can easily assist the customer in arranging and updating bookings by presenting a preselection based on previously answered questions and presenting only relevant offers.

More recently, Etihad Airways tapped into messenger marketing when it launched its WhatsApp Business solution, enabling customers to communicate instantly with the airline via the popular messaging app.

While not directly selling to customers, the service provides an enhanced offering to Etihad’s premium passengers when they are at Abu Dhabi International Airport, enabling them to chat with agents about their flights in a fast, personal and efficient way. In addition to communicating with customer service agents, the WhatsApp Business Solution will be expanded in the future to enable passengers to receive important messages, such as flight reminders, by opting into WhatsApp communications on the Etihad Airways booking confirmation page.

“Air travellers around the world use WhatsApp in their daily lives and so it is an ideal channel for them to communicate with the airline and receive the latest information about their travel journey,” said Robin Kamark, Etihad Airways Chief Commercial Officer.

During the initial trial phase, Etihad Airways will display its WhatsApp number at premium check-in counters at the Abu Dhabi International Airport.

So, what will your next move be?