The word omnichannel marketing is more than a little off putting – it practically has ominous built right in after all. However, while its name may be more than a little imposing it actually has a very common sense meaning and a host of mission critical applications.
At its core, omnichannel marketing simply means offering a multi channel approach to the customer with an integrated approach across the board. Whatever the touch point, the user experience should be seamless. It sounds complicated but actually, it fits very neatly into what should already be ingrained within your marketing processes. If your hotel has its own website and a social media page such as Facebook or Instagram, a mobile version of its site for those who want to book a room on the go, an app perhaps and maybe a printed brochure at a reservation desk or booking desk at an airport, it’s carrying out multi-channel marketing.
Converting this into omnichannel takes the activity a step further – it means you’ll be conscious of joining them all up so however your customer comes to find out about you and eventually takes that step to making a reservation, the experience is seamless. You’ll be consistent with your messaging for example and your design, goals and objectives will be the same across channels and across multiple devices.
To offer a true omni-experience regardless of how many different avenues you use for marketing is to have a truly integrated and totally seamless presence across all touch points. Your mobile app
will have the same look and feel as your website’s booking engine,
the style of your images, language and tone of voice will continue through all of your social media platforms and a user will find the same deals, descriptions and offers on your mobile site while browsing on a tablet or smartphone as they would if they came back a few hours later on their laptop device to complete their user journey by actually making a room reservation.
Why is omnichannel marketing important?
Omnichannel marketing is gaining in importance across most business sectors but it’s particularly crucial for travel brands. Not only is the travel industry hyper-localised, fragmented and hugely competitive, the proliferation of mobile use for travel related discovery and intent-rich services means an omnichannel approach is absolutely vital.
Google recently revealed that travel shoppers lead the way in mobile but also conceded that buying habits and the customer journey take place across devices and across channels. While 63% of millennial travellers are confident using their mobile device to find hotel information, only 43% of customers over 35-years-old feel the same. 64% of millennials will book a hotel on a smartphone, compared with less than one in two of the over 35 market. This split means that there is a lot of channel hopping before a reservation is actually made. And it’s not just in terms of devices either. Travellers will also check out a hotel’s social media followers, look on booking engines, check out customer reviews and conduct research away from the hotel’s own website before making a final decision.
All of this means that the customer journey to booking is very fluid and will take in a range of touch points. You can’t rely on a guest simply visiting your site and making a booking in a single action and on the same device. Savvy guests shop around and do their research so they’re likely to come across you in a range of different formats and across a number of channels. Consistency of messaging helps your hotel to be recognisable and a seamless experience removes barriers to booking – if your mobile booking engine wasn’t as user friendly as your web site’s booking engine for example, you’re likely to send at least the millennials (who favour mobile bookings) to a competitor.
What do marketers think?
Most marketers already see the benefit of getting omnichannel right.
Neustar’s Omni-Channel Marketing Optimization Infographic makes a business case all of its own with a series of compelling statistics that hint at what omnichannel adoption could do for your revenue:
- 70% of companies recognise an omnichannel strategy as being either critical pr very important
- 78% expect an integrated and omnichannel strategy to deliver a sales lift
- The ability to deliver personalised and satisfying customer service experience is the number 1 priority
Who’s getting omnichannel marketing right in the travel sector?
As you’d expect, some of the biggest names in travel have clearly defined omnichannel strategies and are succeeding in offering their customers an integrated experience whether they’re browsing, booking or trip-planning.
Disney is one such example – its mobile website reflects its desktop site, it’s easy to book on the go and it has a trip planning app that has exactly the same look and feel as its other assets. From the research stage through to booking and then counting down, there’s a clear cohesiveness and consistency.
Thomas Cook has really stepped up its omnichannel game and strives to deliver a seamless experience across a host of platforms and channels – on a mobile site, desktop site, over the phone, in store at a Thomas Cook travel agent. It has even developed in-store virtual reality and video content with ‘Discovery’ stores which reflect consumer behavioural and search changes.
Omnichannel experiences are not easy to implement. They require lots of strategic input, clever design and a clear understanding of the customer journey. Omnichannel marketing does however offer lots of possibilities to increase ROI and drive more bookings through existing channels.