A guest enters your water park and is greeted by name. A photographer shows up and takes their photo, which soon appears on their mobile phones for purchase. As they walk toward their first ride of the day, a notification pops up on their phone — it’s the queue times.
Everything about their experience has been personalized, and both the guest and your business will benefit from this.
Gone are the days where guests find ads or marketing offers annoying. This kind of targeted marketing, when personalized and done well, is welcomed by visitors because the information is relevant to what they’re experiencing.
Attractions around the world are deploying this kind of technology to gear their guests through their visits and assist them every step of the way. At the center of it all is contextual messaging, a concept that we’ll explore further in this post.
- Disney’s MagicBands
- HotelTonight’s GeoFencing
- KLM’s personalized customer experience
- The Natural History Museum’s customer experience app
What is contextual messaging?
A contextual message is one that speaks to a guest’s specific needs at the right time and the right place.
Think of the scenario presented at the beginning of this article. The guest received information like ride queue times that was relevant to their current experience.
Contextual messaging is always driven by customer data, including what’s known about a guest before, during, and after their visit. From a marketing standpoint, it involves studying your guest’s behavior, interests, location, and wants — and then using that data to target them with the most relevant offers.
A theme park could, for example, send a push notification to a guest’s mobile phone for a special discount to the gift shop as a guest is nearing the end of their visit.
When you know where and when to best target your guests, you can tailor your offers to real-time information and better drive conversions.
What is the difference between notifications and push notifications?
A notification is a message that automatically pops up on a user’s phone, and they’re one of the main vehicles used for contextual messaging. The message is typically sent by a mobile app to notify the user about an update. This could be social media activity, emails, or special offers.
There are a couple of different mobile notifications:
- Push notifications: These notifications are “pushed” through to a user’s phone screen automatically, without them having to be on an application. The goal behind push notifications is to bring a user into the mobile app that sent them. If the notification is not opened right away, it will sit on the user’s lock screen until they engage with it.
- In-app notifications: This is a message that pops up within an app while your guest is using it. The notification will be related to the user’s behavior on the app and will likely guide them to the next best action. In-app notifications will only pop up when the user is in the app.
Push notifications are commonly used to promote an app and deliver location-specific information. It can also be used to remind guests to return to an app to finish what they were doing, such as completing a travel booking, for example.
In-app notifications can be used to offer personalized recommendations, ask for feedback about the app, and get the user’s consent to send push notifications.
What is contextual customer service?
You can take the idea of contextual messaging and apply it to your customer service.
Contextual customer service is the process of offering personalized support to your guests on whatever device they’re using. It’s customer service but with more context provided.
Your response to a customer query, for instance, should be based on their current request as well as their previous interactions with your company. Again, it’s offering the most relevant and up-to-date support to that particular guest.
This might involve your staff revisiting previous conversations the guest has had with your staff, as well as looking into whatever customer data is available before responding.
The more you know about the guest, their specific needs and any prior interactions, the better customer support you can provide.
4 examples of contextual message targeting
Let’s take a look at how four travel companies are using contextual marketing technology to offer a more personalized experience for their guests.
From ordering food ahead of time to queuing for a ride, Disney leverages the Internet of Things technology to deliver an ultra-personalized guest experience at their parks.
Their MagicBands specifically are wearable bracelets that can act as an entrance ticket and a credit card. But the true magic behind these internet-connected bands is that it keeps guests connected to a web of technology throughout the park — which allows Disney to target them with the right messaging and services as they go about their visit. It is also completely contactless.
A guest could, for example, make a reservation at a restaurant and order their food ahead of time through Disney’s mobile app. Upon arrival, the guest will be greeted by name and seated at a table. Their food will arrive moments later, without the guest ever needing to repeat their order.
The bands are connected to the mobile app that the guest ordered food on, as well as to location beacons in the restaurant that tell the waitstaff where the guest is sitting.
For the guest, it may seem like magic, but really, it’s just Disney’s customer experience technology in the works.
Accommodation booking app HotelTonight uses a customer’s cell phone GPS data to target them with location-based hotel offers.
If a guest is traveling in New York City, for example, the app will notify them of nearby hotels currently offering discounted rates.
The app also offers a location-based discount feature that applies when a customer is a few miles away from a participating hotel. The discount will appear around check-in time to persuade the user to book the hotel right then and there.
KLM’s personalized customer experience
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines uses several channels like a mobile app and WhatsApp to communicate and assist its travelers at every point of their travel planning journey.
The airline will learn about a particular traveler based on their behavior on its mobile app and will then personalize their experience going forward. For example, if a traveler always chooses the window seat on a flight, the app would offer to place them at the window on their next booking.
The airline also uses WhatsApp to send travelers their flight confirmations, check-in notifications, boarding passes, and flight status updates.
The Natural History Museum’s customer experience app
The Natural History Museum in London created a customer experience app so that guests could manage their visits via their mobile phones.
The app allows guests to purchase exhibit tickets, find places to eat, and browse through offers from the gift shop. It also helps the museum target visitors with relevant ads based on their journey through the museum.
The museum pinpoints where visitors are standing in galleries, what they’re looking at, and where they’re going. It then sends them relevant information about the galleries they’re walking through, highlights nearby exhibits, and offers special upsells to paid events that the visitor could be interested in.
In conclusion, contextual messaging is a strategic way to improve your guest experience through personalization.
It goes beyond basic marketing and provides the guest with content based on their previous interactions as well as what they’re experiencing in real-time.
This can be a major benefit for attractions who want to guide their guest’s journey before, during, and after their visit.