The fastest rising method of communications throughout Northern Europe is without doubt the short message (SMS or text) via mobile telephones.
The first short message was sent in early 1993 from a Personal Computer to a mobile phone on the Vodafone GSM network and since, SMS messages traffic has risen to the astronomic heights of an estimated 16 billion sent globally each month. Utilising this technology with the obvious marketing potential is now a reality for one of Britain`s fastest growing tourism destinations - Southport.
Sefton District Council, within whose boundary Southport lies, and its technology partner Integra have jointly developed an innovative, exciting and cost effective method of reaching clients quickly and directly. Integra is committed to developing future-proof products and services and as such were delighted to be involved in this latest initiative. The system will provide for booking confirmation, destination information and targeted marketing on a request basis for the users of mobile phones. Utilizing the feature rich content held within the Integra destination database information can be sent automatically to those clients who require accommodation reservations, event data and regular updates as to what is new in the area.
Users have welcomed, according to recent research, marketing campaigns over mobile phones. A survey polled 5000 subscribers in a two-month test. Roughly one-fifth of the trialists responded, of whom 76% said they considered SMS information services added value. It is this sort of positive response that both Integra and Southport are looking forward to as Information of a “real” interest is sent dynamically across the airwaves.
Tony Corfield, Tourism Manager for Southport Tourism says “We view the move toward mobile information services as key to our future strategy. With the majority of adults in the UK now possessing a mobile phone it is an obvious and necessary route for us to take. We are delighted that we will be using the services of our long term technology partner Integra in the implementation of this project”.
When the information to be communicated is brief SMS saves valuable time in making a call and in addition saves on costs. Short messages are delivered to mobile phones where the information can be stored for later reference, SMS is often more convenient than email or letters to communicate amongst distributed and mobile groups of people. This is particularly true of one of Southport`s target markets: 18 to 24 year olds. By providing mobile phone customers with information about the event that they have booked or the date of the venue that they were interested in attending, the SMS system can help to supplement the need for person to person voice calls to Southport`s customer service centres.
Built into the Integra solution will be an allowance for the next generation of SMS. Proposals that extensible Markup Language (XML) should be used to convey messages between Web servers and SMS Centres are rapidly growing credibility in the market. This would make it easier to add SMS facilities to Web servers or other Internet-connected devices. The result would be a rapid growth in messages from non-mobile devices. For example, it would be easy to notify clients of news and there would be peace of mind knowing that messages are encrypted all the way. It will also become much easier to use delivery notification services to inform senders when messages are delivered.