The toughest challenge organizations face in Customer Engagement Management nowadays is multichannel management. Multichannel management refers to the organizations ability to interact with its customers through multiple channels which can be both online and offline. Some examples of these channels are websites, smart phones, retail stores, mail order catalogs, direct mail, email, social media etc. – and enabling customers to take action in response – preferably to buy your product or service – using the channel of their choice (SAS, 2015).
The past decade the online marketing channel has grown tremendously in the tour operating industry. Which is why many tour operators tempt to put a complete focus on the online marketing strategy. Though this may seem antiquated, but your business needs both channels in order to survive. Rezdy explained, “most tour and activity bookings come from offline sources, because tours and activities are seen as being an afterthought, so they are booked in-destination. People will book through their hotel’s concierge, local VIC (visitor information centre), or just stumble upon a tour or activity when walking around.” Which is why the offline channel is still of high relevance for tour operators. It appeals to consumers who value personal relationships and expertise from a travel specialist.
The use of multiple channels will increase the level of customer engagement significantly. According to several researches, nearly 40% of online searchers make a purchase after being influenced by an offline channel. Using both marketing channels doesn’t mean separate campaigns but rather a marketing mix where your offline marketing strategy is supported and complemented by the marketing you are doing online, and vice versa (A. Cleaver, Strategy Consulting LTD).
Use the following example as inspiration on how online and offline marketing channels can support one another and increase customer engagement. At present there are 900 TUI Travel stores, of which 130 are in-house. When asked whether these stores will ever completely disappear to point zero, the answer is ‘no’. According to TUI, it is necessary to provide their customers both an online and offline experience. The shops did get a completely different function over the past decade; now they are mend to support the online marketing channel, whereas they used to be a sales point. This can be subtracted by the many up-to-date technology used in TUI Travel stores. In the center of each store they integrated a massive touch screen monitor, in order to show digital brochures, (travel) movies or the actual holiday destination. Furthermore, they installed a video wall at the entrance, which brings customers directly in the holiday atmosphere, offering real-time deals. TUI Travel is creating a place where employees can inspire and where customers can get information (Elbers, L., 2015). TUI Travel creates online and offline places where consumers can directly engage with their business.
Despite the increase in online activity, we still live in an offline world. As this is how your customers interact with the world, it is how you should be how tour operators are reaching customers – both online and offline. Offering customers a unique experience via multiple channels makes a significant impact on the level customers engage with your tour operator.
Cleaver, A. Strategy Consulting LTD. A Marriage Made In Heaven: How To Combine Your Online & Offline Marketing. Retrieved October 10th, 2016, from [ <http://www.strategyconsultingltd.com/how-to-combine-your-online-and-offline-marketing/> ]
Conrady, R. & Buck, M. In Trends and Issues in Global Tourism 2008 (Vol. 3, pp 165-169). Springer Science & Business Media, 15th of March 2008.
Elbers, L. September 30, 2015. Arke, oh nee TUI. Hoe gaat dat zo’n online en offline merkverandering? Retrieved October 10, 2016, from [ < http://www.travelnext.nl/arke-oh-nee-tui-hoe-gaat-dat-zon-online-en-offline-merkverandering.html> ]
Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. Part IV Marketing. In E. Peelen, & R. Beltman, Customer Relationship Management (Vol. 2, pp. 216-225). United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited.
SAS. (2015). Multichannel marketing. Accessed September 8th, 2016 [Retrieved from: <http://www.sas.com/en_us/insights/marketing/multichannel-marketing.html>]
Rezdy, May 19, 2015. 3 Types of Bookings All Tour Operators Need. Retrieved September 9th, 2016, from [ <https://www.rezdy.com/blog/3-types-of-bookings-all-tour-operators-need/> ]