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WhatsApp Marketing for Hospitality Venues

The humble text message, long time reliable servant has been surpassed in recent times by a plethora of real time messaging apps. With over 1 billion daily users, WhatsApp is way out in front in terms of user engagement. Its mass market appeal lies in its simplicity and its frictionless/borderless platform and ease of use. It is much more of a conversational medium than its SMS predecessor with a much higher rate of message frequency and user engagement. The ability to create groups adds a significant new dimension and opens the opportunity for WhatsApp marketing.

WhatsApp Marketing for Hospitality

It is the use case of WhatsApp in relation to bars and restaurants and the wider hospitality industry that is interesting and an area that has not been fully explored as of yet. Its value as a communication tool on a personal basis is proven and that value can easily be extended into the B2C realm. WhatsApp is immediate, real time and personal which creates a unique opportunity to connect, on the right terms. Yet, WhatsApp is just another method of communication, and one that your customers are using every day. It stands to reason that WhatsApp marketing should be another communication channel between your hospitality business and your customer. As a hospitality business owner you need to take every opportunity to gain a competitive advantage. WhatsApp Marketing and other marketing tactics like capturing email on a WiFi Hotspot or Social WiFi give you the edge you need.

Some facts about WhatsApp

Before we explore some interesting use cases for WhatsApp marketing in the hospitality environment, there are a few facts important facts to be outlined. WhatsApp is a realtime messaging platform with over 1 billion daily users globally and is owned by Facebook. Built as a one to one or group messaging platform it is available on all major mobile platforms. What is not so commonly known that it is quite easy to link your WhatsApp account to a laptop for a more controlled and easy to use experience. With laptop or PC you can type faster, add more images, and in general have much more control as a group admin. You can set up as many groups as you like but groups have a limit of 256 members which will limiting certain use cases, enhances others.

WhatsApp is not email

It is really important to recognise that WhatsApp is very much an “opt-in” platform as opposed to email, while technically being a permission based tool, is widely used like a broadcast tool. WhatsApp is intimate and personal and should not be abused. There are two broad use case categories for WhatsApp Marketing in the hospitality industry as detailed below:

  • Group Messaging – Groups or sub-groups of your existing and best customers, who are actively engaged or want to to be actively engaged with your venue
  • One to One – Transactional communication like taking bookings and customer service

WhatsApp Group Messaging Use Cases

As outlined above, WhatsApp Marketing to groups should only be between groups or subgroups of your existing customers and a direct line to them at that. Examples of potential groups and/or sub groups are listed below, with some notes on best communication practice

  • General Group for very best customers – First to try new products
  • Lunchtime group – your best lunchtime customers. Send menu daily, only if it is worth it
  • Wine Club
  • Monday night Football

WhatsApp Transactional Use Cases

WhatsApp is very useful for simple communication between you and your customer. The lines are very much blurred in terms how customers engage with their local restaurant or bar. WhatsApp is an ideal platform for quick instant messaging. An interesting recent development by Facebook, allows potential customers to “Click to WhatsApp” on boosted organic posts. This functionality will surely develop into the future. Other transactional use cases for WhatsApp  in the hospitality industry are:

  • General Customer Service Enquiries
  • Making and managing bookings
  • Sending menus and specials

WhatsApp Marketing as a tool for Hospitality

WhatsApp Marketing to your customers has a lot of potential, however it is still at the very early stages. Any new approach with WhatsApp marketing should be managed carefully. The technology is an excellent communication platform, however it is uniquely personal and requires a measured approach. It is ultimately all about communication, and with so many platforms out there you need to be active where your customers are active. WhatsApp and other instant marketing platforms will develop in time, to become a big part of how we do business.

Peadar Gormley

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