Mobile Marketer has re-launched! Click here to learn more!

Days Inn finds SMS is key to CRM strategy

NEW YORK -- A senior executive from the Wyndham hotel chain revealed the mobile commerce test strategy for its Days Inn brand, using mobile for customer relationship management and to increase revenue.

The hotel giant tapped Ping Mobile to formulate the two-fold strategy which included an umbrella campaign that covered 54 of Days Inn's 1,800 properties, encouraging consumers to opt-in for monthly text updates and a site-specific campaign focused on customer service for in-house guests. Tina Perry, regional director at Wyndham Hotel Group and Days Inn Worldwide, offered her insight at Mobile Commerce Spotlight, an event co-hosted by Mobile Marketer and the Direct Marketing Association.

"Our goal was not just acquiring new customers, but retention was also key," Ms. Perry said. "We see a lot of people shopping on the mobile site and then calling the 800 number to book."

"We've actually established a separate 800 number on the mobile site to determine which have come through the mobile site," she said. "Right now it's obvious that there aren't many people who are comfortable giving out credit card information via mobile."

A sweepstakes was the first campaign run by Days Inn, with a keycard holder that customers got on check-in that had the text-in information and posters of two different sizes that were put on display all over the hotel.

The posters told guests to text keyword DAYSGO to short code 74642 to win a free getaway.

The company, paired with Ping Mobile, then began its umbrella test campaign to try and acquire numbers for its loyalty program database.

The acquisition rate of opt-ins for this campaign was slow, yet Ms. Perry claims that the opt-out rate is very minimal.

However, the results of Ping Mobile's IVR campaign for Days Inn bore results: 26 percent of the guests that were pushed a message responded by sending a text message back and 30 percent pressed 1 to be connected to the call center to book a room.

Ping Mobile has also usedits Ping Wizard for Days Inn's site-specific campaign set to launch this year.

That campaign is meant to use SMS to target consumers of a certain type and inform them on what they might want out of the hotel while they are on site.

"We try to target our guests as best we can to let them know what's up in the hotel," Ms. Perry said. "Our hotels are not cookie-cutter. Each property has different attributes to take advantage of. By working with Ping Wizard, we can do that."

Meanwhile, Shira Simmonds, president of Ping Mobile, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, walked the audience through the steps in creating and executing a mobile marketing campaign, beginning with client education.

After the brand and the agency are more comfortable with mobile, then the group as a whole should move on to setting goals and brainstorming ways in which to achieve those goals.

As many panelists stressed at the daylong event, Ms. Simmonds concurred that mobile is not just one channel, but many. As such, marketers should choose what is the best channel within mobile according to their specific brand or product.

"The last step is to test and learn," Ms. Simmonds said.

"Just because we set something up doesn't mean it will work," she said. "Mobile is a learning experience and what works for one brand doesn't necessarily work for another. It all depends on where it's being advertised, the frequency of the campaign, the call-to-action, and the tracking of the business."

After Ms. Perry and Ms. Simmonds revealed their Days Inn strategy, Eric Harber, president of HipCricket, Kirkland, WA, gave insight on his engagement model.

The model included customer acquisition, management, building, engagement and monetization, one leading to the next.

"This is about acquiring and retaining customers and using multiple vehicles for our clients to do so," Mr. Harber said.

"It's not all about brand awareness," he said. "Of course, it's important but at the end of the day we're talking about mobile commerce which means driving revenue."