The efficiency of SMS notifications in local and long-distance public transport

Every day, millions of travelers use public transportation to get to their destinations. Not all of these journeys go smoothly. Problems can be caused by delays, detour, train cancellations, track changes, etc. When they occur, prompt information is the key to resolution. The sooner a problem is communicated by the transportation provider, the greater the customer’s ability to respond. 

With the widespread use of smartphones, it is now possible to notify the user as soon as new information about the situation becomes known, keeping the traveler up to date with travel-related messages. This allows the traveler to react to changes as early as possible and make well-informed decisions. Due to the large number of travelers, real-time monitoring of all current and future (i.e., booked) trips is a challenging task for the transportation provider.

SMS are well suited to send real-time updates (e.g., a delay) to the relevant people. 

On the one hand, customers always want to be up to date on the status of their trip. On the other hand, no one wants to bother customers with updates about a trip they are not interested in: while some customers may be interested in any notices about upcoming changes, others may only want to receive essential information about the feasibility of the trip. Here, the time remaining until the relevant event (e.g. the arrival of a train at the destination) is important: a traveler is probably not interested in a predicted change in arrival time of 2 min when there are still 2 h left until the change.

Changes can also affect all future trips that have already been booked by customers. For example, a schedule change due to planned construction may change the arrival time at the destination, which should be communicated to all affected customers who have already booked their trip.

When you think of transportation, text messages are not the first thing that comes to mind. But in fact, they can be used by companies to communicate with customers and increase visibility and therefore engagement.

According to Statista, 73 percent of German adults own a smartphone. Many rely on their phones as their primary means of accessing the Internet and communicating with others. Consumers highly value text messaging. Whether for personal or business purposes, mobile messaging should and can be used by businesses in a variety of industries – including transportation.

In an IDC Info Brief, nearly half of all transportation companies believe mobile messaging has a measurable impact on overall customer experience and retention. About 33 percent think SMS is effective for customer surveys.

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Possible uses of SMS in public transportation

Now that SMS notifications in the transportation industry have been explained in general, we will look at specific ways that companies are currently using SMS technology to improve their organizations’ communications.

Schedule changes and cancellations

SMS can be used to notify public transit customers of schedule changes or cancellations. This is far more effective than email or even dedicated apps like Deutsche Bahn. Text messages are short, concise and instant. There is no delay and multiple people can be notified at once. Text messages prevent frustration and provide more transparency and clarity.

Notifications to customer service

One of the most effective uses of SMS is customer service. By enabling two-way communication between your business and your customers, you can free up your customer service representatives and free up time and resources. By giving customers the ability to send simple text messages to your business, you can reduce response times and ensure that customers receive the right information at the right time.

Two-way communication

From a very practical perspective, SMS can be used within an organization to streamline communication between cab drivers and customers, for example. Companies can send all the important information such as address, time and destination for an order to the drivers. Drivers can inform their companies about unforeseen delays or mechanical problems. The possibilities are almost endless.

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6 ways airlines can make travel more relaxed with SMS

Whether for business or pleasure, it’s hard to imagine a world without air travel. Many of us flew for the first time as children and have been frequent flyers ever since. As much fun as flying is, there are some frustrations that can arise when traveling by air that could be mitigated with quick and transparent communication.

Not everything needs a smartphone app like Eurowings. Many simple travel annoyances can be solved with a simple 160-character text message – or less.

Why SMS? Not only are SMS messages fast and reliable, they also don’t require Internet access. Customers who don’t have a data plan (or are traveling abroad) will still receive a text message, and more reliably than an email or even a voice call.

Check-in reminders

Online check-ins make travel easier for many. Customers get a sense of security once their seat has been selected and boarding passes have been created or even printed themselves. That is, if customers remember to check in on time. If not, the airline can now send a short SMS reminder to check-in with a link to the online portal.

95% of SMSs are read within five minutes. So when people receive an SMS, it is very likely to be read, and if that SMS arrives on their smartphone within the crucial “24 hours before flight” window, they can check in for their flight and check one more thing off their pre-trip to-do list.

Flight and gate updates

Everything from weather to air traffic congestion can delay a flight. Instead of checking with the airline over and over, simple text messages solve the problem. Getting a message a few hours before the traveler was supposed to leave for the airport that the flight is on time and departing from gate 23D alleviates another headache. If something changes, another text message does the trick.

Information about the connecting flight

The first leg of the flight has been completed. Most of the time, people then have just enough time to reach their connecting flight and panic when the way there is not immediately apparent. Once you land on the first leg, you get a message with gate information and even some instructions on how to get there. Maybe even an average walking time between terminals. Just a little extra information to help travelers get to the next flight.

Baggage carousel information

Most of the time, the first thing customers want to know when they land (besides where the restroom is once they get off the plane) is where to pick up their luggage. In the mass of screens and flights, it’s hard to find the information. As soon as the customers land and turn on their phones, with a short SMS notification, they will immediately know where your luggage will be and they can go directly there.

Information about the destination

From how much a cab will cost to get to the city center, to public transportation options, to things to do in the city while they’re there – while travelers are picking up their luggage, you can already be planning what they’ll do next. Airlines can share basic information with a text message for each city.

Simple information makes all the difference when traveling.

Reminder to check in for return flight

Remembering to check in before your trip begins is easy, but when you’re on vacation or a hectic business trip, remembering to check in for the trip home isn’t always so simple. This is where a simple SMS reminder can help.

It’s a bit more complicated, but the check-in process could also be handled via 2-way SMS. If one doesn’t have WiFi or access to a computer, the basic check-in questions can be handled with simple text responses. Even just confirming what’s on file, travelers now know they’re checked in and ready to head home.

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Good travel starts with good communication

These tips are all about giving customers the information they need to have a stress-free flight. Check-in reminders, weather updates, flight updates, connections, baggage and destination information are all things people want to know when they fly. Even experienced fliers want to know these little details. It relieves stress and helps people just enjoy the trip.

SMS can’t eliminate all the frustrations of flying, but at least they can provide customers with information to make the trip go more smoothly.

Message Networks: Partner for Mobile Messaging Solutions

Message Networks provides messaging solutions for the transportation industry. With integrated APIs that provide technically sophisticated and privacy-compliant SMS services, the company guarantees secure and direct delivery of these SMS to travelers’ mobile devices. Delivery meets the highest security and privacy requirements through technologies such as IPsec (Internet Protocol Security) and HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure). All SMS are reliably delivered via a direct connection to the messaging gateways of the mobile network operators and without any time delay.