The 18-34 Millennial age group now makes up over 25% of the American population, the largest single group in the United States according to the census bureau. Since this generation is gaining buying power, inherently digital, and also the U.S. cohort most interested in traveling, hotels realize that they need to adapt their marketing and advertising strategies to maximize the possibilities of omnichannel.
So. Beyond booking sites, virtual travel agents, and so on, here’s how hotel chains are unlocking the power of omnichannel to try to reclaim their audience:
1. Increased smartphone/tablet connectivity:
Free wi-fi and charging stations are obvious answers, but hotel chains like Starwood are experimenting with apps that allow customers to skip the front desk, use their phones as room keys, and communicate with the front desk.
What hotels do: This is about being able to check in on your smart phone, direct message your concierge on Twitter, and use a reward app such as the one put out by Marriot to take advantage of a list of services and chat with a person for requests. All of these services eliminate “pain points” that slow down the customer experience.
2. Start booking on one channel, finish on another.
People tend to use different platforms depending on factors like time of day and location: PCs are for work, smart phones are for moving around, and tablets might be used more often at home. If booking websites can identify users and save their form information, the site could provide a more seamless experience that doesn’t force customers to re-input certain details.
What hotels do: Expedia’s Scratchpad function allows customers to begin booking at home on their PCs, and then use another channel to finish what they started provided that they’re signed in to their account on the website.
3. Showcase on social media:
Unfortunately, hotels don’t always do well on social media and instead of being shared, they’re probably being put on blast by an unhappy guest. They’re treated slightly worse by customers than restaurants on social channels, but maybe slightly better than airlines.
What hotels do: Hotels like the Starwood chain have invited social media influencers to visit their locations so as to document them on Instagram. Every tweet from the Hilton includes a widescreen photograph of someone having a great time at one of their locations. In 2013, the Four Seasons Hotel in New York entertained a brief social media campaign called #MaxineTakesManhattan wherein they took pictures of a stuffed animal at certain locations that customers could guess for a chance to win gift cards and vouchers.
— Four Seasons NY (@FSNewYork) May 4, 2013
The changes brought by the digital age have disrupted how several industries and businesses operate, including hotels chains and travel sites. Fortunately, omnichannel offers businesses of all sorts the chance to attract and reclaim their customer base by connecting people with the services they want.