In a nutshell, to be a multichannel business means that customers have more than one channel to communicate, interact or buy, but each channel works separately. An omnichannel business means that not only do customers have more than one channel for their disposal, but also all channels communicate among them.
In fact, few people actually understand what omnichannel means. However, talking about a multichannel and omnichannel experience in the hotel industry has some significant differences.
Here, I will focus on online channels. There are three areas where the multichannel and the omnichannel can be applied in the hotel industry:
- Customer Service.
I will explain the difference between multichannel and omnichannel and how omnichannel is indeed the technology that you and your client will get more benefits from.
Why should your hotel be available on different channels anyway?
Source: We Are Social and Hootsuite
The modern traveler is spread over many channels and it is important that your hotel be where your potential clients are. The problem is that many hotels are using social media only for Marketing to reach new users through ads.
Clients, on the other hand, use those channels also for communication. Unfortunately, hotels are not prepared to answer clients’ queries on social media. With no answer from the other side, clients move on.
So basically, the same clients you invested money in to attract, are the ones you are not prepared to serve. It seems like a waste of money to me!
That is why it is important to be available on different channels and not use them only for Marketing. All channels should be integrated into your customer service experience.
In a multichannel approach, it is understood that the bigger the number of channels, the wider the hotel’s range, and consequently, the bigger the number of interested travelers. With this in mind, multiple communication channels are offered to clients, such as:
– Social Media
– Text Messaging Channels
Inside the social media, we can highlight a dozen of different channels. Most travelers prefer the following social media: Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Youtube.
Furthermore, multichannel means also which source the communication comes from a mobile, desktop, tablet, or any other device connected to the internet.
By being multichannel, you increase the chance of getting new customers and make it easier for clients to reach you when they need. But every channel is treated separately and customer experience can be compromised because customer data is not shared among the channels.
Your hotel probably uses a CMS (Channel Management System), right? Basically, what this system does is centralize all sales channels of the hotel, from all possible sources. When you update a room rate, all channels are updated as well, without having to check each one of them manually.
An omnichannel customer service management follows a similar logic. All communication channels are centralized on one single screen. Consequently, reservation agents won’t need to divide themselves to be able to answer all demands. They will be able to manage all service channels in one platform.
So, your hotel may have many communication channels for travelers’ disposal, but if these channels don’t talk to each other, it is not an omnichannel service. Remember that clients want their experience to be seamless.
In an omnichannel approach, it doesn’t matter which attendant was in charge of the customer service or where the initial inquiry took place. All channels are connected and data is shared, making it easier for the customer to engage and to build a loyal relationship with the company.
The Impact of the multichannel and the omnichannel in the hotel industry
Nowadays, travelers demand an omnichannel experience. Omnichannel can be a tricky concept. Many hotels and resorts work with different channels, but very few of them can be considered omnichannel.
The truth is that the bigger the number of channels is, the more complicated it is to manage all of them simultaneously. In a simple multichannel, one attendant needs to jump from one communication to another: answering website requests, while Facebook users wait for their requests.
Moreover, there is the matter of keeping service standard in all channels. That means that the more fragmented it is multichannel management, the less uniform will be the answers.
The omnichannel experience is the strategy to charm clients and makes them loyal by giving them an integrated and standardized experience in every channel. So whatever journey the customer chooses to take, the experience is consistent and unified.
Hence many hotels are using an omnichannel strategy combined with automated customer service. That way, clients are answered in different channels, managed in one single platform. In addition, it is possible to create standards for images, greetings, ways to get around clients’ objections, and more.
The hotel industry still has ways to embrace new technological changes and to become omnichannel is definitely one.
Wanna know more about the challenges of an omnichannel strategy in the hotel industry? Check out this presentation our Marketing Specialist, Paula Carreirão, did at Tourism World Summit: