In short, 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 customers have more than one channel for their disposal, but also that all channels communicate between them.
Few people actually understand what omnichannel means. It is often mistaken for multichannel. But to talk about a multichannel and an omnichannel experience in the hotel industry has some significant differences.
The “channel” part of those words is both physical and online. Here, we will focus on online channels. There are three areas where the multichannel and the omnichannel can be apply in the hotel industry:
In this article, online customer service is the focus. I will explain the difference between the multichannel and omnichannel and how omnichannel is in fact the technology that you and your client will get more benefits from.
Why your hotel should be available in different channels anyway?
Fonte: We are Social and Hootsuite
The modern traveller is spread over many channels and it is important that your hotel is where your potential clients are. The problem is that many hotels are using social media only for marketing to reach users with social media announcements.
The thing is that clients use those channels for communication as well. So they contact the hotel by inbox, but the hotel is not prepared to answer fast clients’ queries. With no answer from the other side, clients move on.
Basically, the same clients that you invested money attracting, 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 for marketing. They should be integrated to your customer service experience.
In a multichannel approach, it is understood that, the more the number of channels in which the hotel is available, wider is hotel’s reach, and consequently, the bigger is the number of interested travelers. With this in mind, it is offered to the client multiple communication channels and sometimes sales channels:
– Social Media
– Text Messaging Channels
Inside the social media, we can highlight a dozen of different channels. The social media travellers like the most are: Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Youtube.
Furthermore, multichannel means not only which channel of communication traveler use, but also which source it comes from: mobile, desktop, tablet or any other device connected to the internet.
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 to centralize all sales channels of the hotel, from all possible sources, so when you update a room rate, all channels are updates 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 in 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 travellers’ disposal, but if these channels don’t talk to each other, it is not an omnichannel service. 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 to customer to engage and to build a loyal relation with the company.
The Impact in the hotel industry
Nowadays, travellers demand for 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 need to jump from a communication to another: answering websites requests, while Facebook users wait with their requests.
Moreover, there is the matter of keep service standard in all channels. That means that the more fragmented it is multichannel management, less uniformed will be the answers.
The omnichannel experience is the strategy to charm clients and make them loyal by giving them an integrated and standardized experience in every channel your hotel is available. So whatever journey the customer chooses to take, the experience is consistent and unified.
Hence many hotels are using omnichannel strategy combined with automated customer service. That way, clients are answered in different channels, managed in one single platform. In addition, its is possible to create standards for images, greetings, ways to get around clients’ objections, and more.
The hotel industry still has space to embrace new technological changes and to become omnichannel is definitely one.