SMS hospitality industry

SMS in the hospitality industry

Did you know, restaurants, cafes and bars are the most searched businesses by consumers on their smartphone? It’s therefore no surprise that SMS is one of the most effective way for hospitality businesses to connect with their customers. Its efficiency as a business marketing tool really can’t be overstated, with an impressive 97% of SMS opened by customers- the majority within the first three minutes of being received!

Related: 7 creative ways retailers can drive sales over Christmas using SMS

So how can your restaurant benefit from SMS?

Status updates: use SMS alerts or notifications to keep customers informed on ETA’s on food deliveries with as well as on table openings and availability.

2. Loyalty programs: reward customers with special offers. 90% of users who enrol in an SMS loyalty program feel that they gained value from it!

3. Reservation reminders: make customers feel important by recognising their bookings and sending SMS reminders and alerts. This also gives customers an opportunity to cancel or postpone (if they have forgotten), freeing up your table for another customer without costing you a cent.

4. Customer feedback: use mobile technology to gain valuable insights from your customers about their experience through simple, quick and easy SMS surveys. The customer experience is everything so use SMS to gain as much insight as you can on how to improve this.

5. Coupons & promotions: leverage the success rate of SMS coupons, which, according to Restaurant Report see a 1000% higher buy rate than print coupons.

6. Coordinate staff rosters: coordinate staff rosters with a simple text message. With 95% of SMS messages opened within the first three minutes of being received, SMS is also effective in finding last minute fill-ins.

What’s the cost of SMS versus more traditional methods?

By now you’re probably thinking: that all sounds great, but what’s it going to cost me if I want to benefit from the power of SMS notifications?

The answer is… much less than you’d expect.

To paint the picture more clearly, below are two examples of how SMS stacks up against more traditional methods of marketing and management.

SMS vs Print Advertising:

From local flyer drops to full-page ads in your national paper, there’s one thing all print advertising has in common. It will leave a significant dent in your bank balance. It may also leave you wondering whether your message actually happened to reach your audience. SMS, on the other hand, has the capacity to be much more targeted, ensuring that you are communicating with recipients who are more likely to take action upon receiving your text. The lack of design required for a text message will also save you time and money on design and copywriting.

SMS Alerts vs Phone Call Confirmations:

Confirming customer reservations is critical for many restaurants and cafes given the cost associated with a leaving a table vacant during service period. Traditionally, hostesses or management might allocate several hours to call customers prior to arrival to confirm the reservation. This method can be both inefficient and labour intensive when the majority of customers do not answer their phones and require ‘call-backs’. The potential costs not only include an investment of time but perhaps more importantly, the cost of a missed seating if the customer does not answer their phone and forgets their booking.

The cost of sending an SMS alert or reminder is just a few cents and the likelihood that it will be opened is 98%. Once SMS has been integrated into the restaurants’ point of sale software, the process can be easily automated thus minimising labour costs.

They say if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. When it comes to the synergy between management and SMS, however, we think we’ve found an exception!