Hospitality Industry cannot afford to ignore omni-channel opportunity

Author -  Vaughan Reed

Competition within the hospitality industry is tightening as guests continue to demand more for less. This is forcing operators to find new and innovative ways to compete on experience, not price. According to Vaughan Reed, Owner of Labyrinth Solutions, omni-channel marketing could be just the ticket to a five star review.

Disruptive changes usually happened only periodically– the online booking system for example, which revolutionised the consumer experience and continues to be central feature amongst today’s hospitality operators. Now, disruptive changes occur on a much more regular basis driven by consumers whose expectations are shaped by continuing technological advancements, globalisation and changing social norms. Omni-channel marketing is a product of this disruption. 

What is ‘Omni-Channel’ and why should the hospitality industry take it seriously?

Digital marketing has been undergoing rapid advancements at stomach-churning speed. Now marketing teams have to contend with a number of digital touch points to satisfy the demands of today’s tech-savvy guests (and potential guests) who expect information at their fingertips across any device, at any time, whether they are online or not. 

‘Omni-channel’ therefore implies the delivery of a seamless, integrated, and consistent guest experience irrespective of the channel or device. For example, before going on holiday a family is likely to use their laptop or desktop computer to make a booking and then later switch over to their tablet or mobile phone to view their booking, redeem loyalty points and access helpful information about their intended accommodation. During their stay, the family may need to book dinner at the hotel restaurant, view their current bill and book a local activity, which they would do via their mobile device or perhaps an interactive kiosk within the hotel foyer. The family would expect the same experience across all devices.

You can begin to see why omni-channel marketing is so important. It offers businesses in the hospitality industry the opportunity to get an edge over competitors by delivering an enhanced guest experience. And since it’s been proven that people generally buy based on emotion rather than price, you take yourself out of the ‘race to zero’ i.e. being forced to compete on price until you are left with no margin.

Using omni-channel marketing to enhance the guest experience

A guest’s experience may begin with their first visit to your website and continue right through to the communication following their stay. Examples of how technology can be used across multiple touch points to automate and enhance the contact you have with your guests, include:

  • Improving the speed and efficiency of your online booking facility. This sets the tone for a guest’s experience so ensure it is frustration free. 
  • Satisfying your guest’s appetite for pre and post booking information. Guests should be able to easily find all the information they need when researching your accommodation, its facilities, the region and local attractions. Take it a step further by sending a reminder email that includes helpful travel advice, the weather forecast and details about the check-in process. 
  • Facilitating vital ongoing communication. When you send through a confirmation email in response to a booking why not include options that encourages them to go through to your website to plan their stay, such as giving them the ability to add local events, places to visit and activities to their wish list. 
  • Developing mobile applications to help nurture the relationship you have with guests. ‘Apps’ are great tools for encouraging guests to order room service, make repeat bookings, take-up incentives, manage loyalty programmes, update their wish list and generally keep your business top of mind. 
  • Introducing touch screen kiosks. If you have good quality information on your website about the region, events and local attractions, then kiosks are a great way of providing guests with easy access to this during their stay. Kiosks can also provide guests with the opportunity to view and manage their wish list, avoid check-in queues, make dinner reservations and book activities direct with local tourism operators. 
  • Introducing digital displays and signage. Why not present helpful information on digital screens located in high traffic areas such as your dining area, foyer and bar. The five day weather forecast, local tour operator specials and incentives for repeat bookings are just some examples of the type of information that can be displayed.

Yes much of the information viewed by guests in the examples above is similar, but remember that they want the flexibility to access it on their terms. The obvious question is how do hospitality operators ensure consistency and manage communication across these different touch points? You’ll be glad to know that the solution is not, ‘get a bigger marketing team.’ Technology again comes to the rescue, this time in the form of purpose built platforms that allow content to be centrally managed across multiple digital touch points. Omni-channel technology is alive and well on our shores – more hospitality businesses just need to leverage this technology to deliver on the growing expectations of their guests.

Labyrinth Solutions are the leading omni-channel platform provider in Australasia, which centralises the management of content across the four primary omni-channel touch points – Website | Mobile Application | Kiosk | Digital Signage.

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