I know what you’re thinking; another social media platform that is just going to take up more of my time. And while WhatsApp is now owned by Facebook, it is less of a social media platform and more a tool for communication. What’s more, WhatsApp Business isn’t something that you need to be updating every day, week, or month like other social media platforms but rather, something you can set and (almost) forget. WhatsApp Business has a host of service features that many business owners in the tour and activity industry aren’t aware of. So here is a brief rundown of why you should be using WhatsApp Business, how to use it, and what you can do with it once you have it up and running.
WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app in the world with over 2 billion active users(opens in a new tab). That alone is suggestive of the power and potential reach that WhatsApp could provide your business. Facebook purchased it in 2014 for $19 billion(opens in a new tab) and we can safely assume that Zuckerberg had big plans for it. In 2020, they announced various business concepts for the application after efforts to monetize it through adverts failed. A big drawcard for WhatsApp users is its end-to-end encryption, which has also become a drawback for Facebook. This is even more crucial in an age when consumer privacy(opens in a new tab) has become not only a hot topic but enforceable with laws throughout Europe and the US. To counter that, they have recently said to be upgrading their business services(opens in a new tab) to now include a shopping feature, also known as Catalog, various Facebook hosting services, and even a sales feature.
As of October 2020, more than 175 million people were using the application to message a WhatsApp Business account. Knowing that customers are much more likely to purchase a product, tour, or service after they have received assistance from a business has also been a major motivation to implement a sales feature within the application. As of November 2020(opens in a new tab), the Indian government approved the expansion of payments within WhatsApp. This essentially means that users can send money through the application to friends and family, but more importantly, it means they can make purchases directly through the app. It almost begs the question, is WhatsApp Business going to be a booking software player in the future?
How To Get Started With WhatsApp Business
WhatsApp Business has a free and straightforward set-up process; and if the pandemic has shown us anything, having an easily-accessible online presence is more essential than ever for small businesses. All you need to do is to create an account using your mobile number, verify the account, and then put in place all of the features that you are looking to use. They have a very detailed guide and FAQ for both iPhone users(opens in a new tab) and Android users(opens in a new tab) if you need a little more clarification. If you already have a WhatsApp account, it is possible to migrate your contacts over to WhatsApp Business as well. Once you’re all set up, you can begin exploring the range of new features available on the platform. For a run-through of the different options, keep calm and read on.
WhatsApp Business Features
There are more than 3 million companies already using WhatsApp Business to communicate with their customers and according to a study by Twilio in 2016(opens in a new tab), 9 out of 10 consumers would prefer using messaging to communicate with businesses. It is worth noting that you shouldn’t immediately rule out using a live chat service on your site. While WhatsApp Business has an incredible array of features, it requires you to be available to reply. If you’re a tour and activity operator who is particularly stretched for time, we would always recommend using a live chat service such as Tawk.to(opens in a new tab) so that your business can be contactable 24 hours a day. Nevertheless, here are some of the features that are available on WhatsApp Business:
Respond to Customer Queries
The most basic and fundamental aspect of WhatsApp is its messaging platform. There isn’t much to explain about this feature other than that it provides a quick reply option for questions that you might get frequently asked such as ‘what is your refund policy’ or ‘how can I pay?’
Share Product Information
Catalog is where things start to get interesting. It is described as “your mobile storefront” where you can essentially showcase your products and services to potential customers. Additionally, it allows you to respond to queries that are specific to a product, tour, or service that you’re offering.
There is nothing worse than waiting by your letterbox or inbox for a product or receipt to arrive. Or worse, imagine buying a tour and forgetting what date and time you had purchased, or where the pick-up or departure location is. On WhatsApp Business, you can provide your customers with updates, maybe a message a week before the tour to remind them of the time and location, or a message after the tour to ask for a review or for feedback. How you use the application is really up to you.
We love email marketing(opens in a new tab) but we will be the first to admit that it isn’t for everyone. Younger generations are using email less and less and turning to social media to communicate with businesses more and more. For example, on many occasions, I have communicated with my bank or with shops through Facebook and Instagram, and WhatsApp as well. WhatsApp Business provides a cool feature that allows you to send a message to everyone on your list who has saved your number. This can allow you to send out a new tour or activity, a discount, seasonal promotions, events, or share information about a new team member.
It seems that WhatsApp Business has taken a few cues from the reliable email world. The application also allows business owners to create an away message so that customers are immediately notified if you’re away, closed for the day, on a lunch break, or in a meeting.
A final fabulous feature that we couldn’t miss is the WhatsApp API. This allows you to connect your account to your website for a seamless user experience. To see an example, take a look at one of our more recent sites in Croatia: Pula Outdoor(opens in a new tab). If you’re looking to upgrade your own site to take advantage of many other new online features that are constantly evolving, get in touch(opens in a new tab) with us for an obligation free quote or take a look at our portfolio(opens in a new tab) for more examples.
If you take away anything from this article it’s that WhatsApp Business means business. With an array of impressive features already available, this application is one to look out for in the future as they continue to grow and build their service for businesses in the tour and activity industry and beyond.
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