This week I'm speaking about sales and marketing, in particular the idea of an Omni Channel Activation Strategy. In a recent blog, I shared with you that I was at a very interesting event organized by Ennis Chamber and AIB on the topic of Changing Trends in Retail and Hospitality.
I learned so many things on the night. One of the things that I really took away was insight on the changing Path to Purchase that both retail shoppers and tourism visitors are going through.
So I heard a lot of interesting statistics, in particular from the retail speakers, I'll share a quick overview of those.
I learned that 81 percent of shoppers are doing their research online before going in store.
Despite that a lot of shoppers are continuing their online research while they're in the store. Still other shoppers do their research in-store and then go and shop online, maybe to get a size or a particular type of product.
50% or about half of the shoppers expect to buy online and to be able to pick that up in-store. More than 50 percent.be able to return an unwanted item to the store.
So an ongoing theme was that there was a blurring of the lines between the different channels in retail in particular and that the the challenge for retailers was to bridge the gaps between the different channels. The term that came up again and again over the course of the evening was the idea of an Omni Channel Activation Strategy. That got me thinking about how that might apply to tourism.
I'm pretty sure that there are similar behaviour patterns and similar changes in the Path to Purchase happening there too. So, let's have a look at it. There are two ways to look at your channel strategy.
There's Multi Channel Activation and there's Omni Channel Activation.
Multi Channel Activation is probably where the majority of people are right now or where it has evolved into. So, say, for example, if I owned a visitor attraction, I might be able to sell a ticket at my desk when you arrive at my attraction. I might sell another one online through my website. It might be available in a third place through a third party website for example. So I might have three parallel channels, through which the customer could buy my ticket. It's all sales from me to the customer.
Omni Channel Activation takes account of the kind of behaviour that I just described there. If you put the visitor in the center on their Path to Purchase what they're doing is they're grabbing pieces of information from lots of different sources or it's coming at them from lots of different sources.
So they may be able to get information on your website, through your emails, through a telephone call.
They may get it on your social media or on app, customer reviews.
They get it through virtual chat, through live chat, through virtual tours that you might make available.
So there's a whole lot of different channels that your customer is picking out of.
Omni Channel Activation requires you, as the seller, to stand there in the visitor’s shoes and look at those moving channels all around them and figure out how you can blur the lines between them, and how you can ensure that your business comes across in a cohesive and consistent way across all of those channels. It's no small feat. The reality is the Path to Purchase is changing and an Omni Channel Activation Strategy tries to mirror that Path to Purchase, and to ensure the visitor is able to keep moving along it to
eventually make the purchase.
The Path to Purchase in Tourism has changed, much the same as it has in retail. There are two areas in particular that have become amplified.
The first is the Inspiration Stage. We know that people are spending longer looking for holiday ideas. Many people start in December around Christmas looking for their summer holiday break. Club Med shared some interesting statistics on their visitor path to purchase, people who may be deciding which Club Med resort to go to and which particular package to choose. They found that on average, it takes 96 days and that the visitor might come across 11 different digital and physical touch points. So that's a long Inspiration Stage.
The second change in the Tourism Path to Purchase is the Consideration Stage. With so many sources of information available to them, visitors are actively reaching out, looking for information that allows them to compare. They compare prices. They compare products. They compare reviews. They compare special offers so that they make the best decision for this holiday. We also know the 94 percent of our visitors are still looking for information while they're in destination after they've got there. At that point, they're looking to get that through word of mouth and through the people they meet.
So Omni Channel Activation is not just about digital. It's about knowing the path to purchase your visitor is on, all the touch points they’ll come across and then being sure that you show up at each of those touch points in a cohesive and consistent way. As I say that I realize that that really is quite a challenge and quite a mindset change if you're currently in the multi-channel model.
So what can you do about this? I can offer you I guess three questions, just to get you thinking and to think about this strategy:
So the first question is, what is your mindset right now, your business mindset? Are you Multi Channel or are you Omni Channel?
The second one is, if you wish to transition to Omni Channel, can you identify all the physical and digital touch points that your visitor would come in contact with?
And the third question? Once you know the touch points, how can you bridge those gaps?
So they're big questions.
It's an area that's evolving all the time. I'd be really, really interested to hear your experiences and your ideas on this.
Please do leave a comment below and I look forward to being in touch on this further.