A few months back, I was standing on a trade show floor being shown a demo for a new form of e-marketing: targeted text messaging. With this technology, retailers (hotels and restaurants included) could have an unprecedented opportunity to send highly-customized promotions to an audience that has expressed real interest in receiving them.
Consider this scenario: a restaurant guest provides the restaurant with a cell phone number for their CRM profile, and opts in to receive targeted information sent via short message service (SMS), otherwise known as text messaging. The customer would choose what type of messages they were interested in receiving (coupons, special promotions, upcoming events, and so on) and how often they'd want to receive the messages (daily, weekly, or monthly). The SMS message is sent, and the customer then has the coupon with them at all times, making it nearly impossible to forget the coupon at home or neglect to print it out from their e-mail. Taking it one step further, as consumer devices enabled with near-field communication (NFC) technology grow in popularity, the SMS message could serve as a fully-virtual coupon. An NFC-enabled cell phone could be swiped past a reader (similar to RFID technology) and the coupon would be redeemed.
To further my demonstration, the techs input my cellular number into their system and sent a test. A few moments later my phone buzzed with an example coupon message. Nifty, I thought, as I imagined all the retailers and restaurants from which I'd like to have exclusive deals tucked in my pocket.
The solution from this particular vendor was in testing phase only (proven very loud and clear several weeks later when my cell phone starting buzzing at 5 a.m. as their system sent a series of tests).
HT considers this a trend to watch, and will report on consumer interest with these and other cutting edge technologies in its upcoming Self Service Study. Watch for the study to be released in June. And in the mean time, I'd like to opt out of 5 a.m. text messages, please.