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We have spoken in detail about the omnichannel retail trend in our Spring 2016 newsletter and the impact that it is having on the buying process and consumer journey. The trend towards omnichannel communications is perhaps greatest in the retail sector….but the same trend can also be seen in the leisure and hospitality sector.

As with the retail sector, consumers looking to book a table at a restaurant or stay the night at a hotel are informed and in control of the buying process; consumers can purchase what they want, when they want and on whatever device they want to do it on.

Living in an omnichannel hospitality world

Scott Sanderson, Partner at Hawsons, commented: “Using digital technology to create a unified consumer experience will be very important for hospitality operators over the coming years. This is what is meant by omnichannel communications – blurring the line between online and offline; digital and physical – creating one consistent consumer experience.”

Some omnichannel hospitality examples

“We live in a world where our mobile devices have become a big part of our lives and they are transforming almost everything we do. I think one of the biggest trends in the leisure and hospitality sector is towards a greater use of social media, both from the consumer and the business. Consumers are increasingly likely to share their perceptions and experience online, and the business needs to be prepared for dealing with any potential complaints that the consumer voices on social media. Social media is also becoming more of a selling platform for businesses – partially thanks to the launch of shopping functionalities like ‘book now’ buttons on Twitter and Facebook. This is particularly important for hotel operators and travel companies.”

“Click and collect and pre-ordering online or in an app are two ways where restaurants and pubs have seen some big benefits through omnichannel communications. Other things like QR code scanning to online reviews from a flyer, reserving a hotel in an app or booking a table online are quick and easy ways to provide consumers with a consistent consumer brand experience.”

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“Technology has come a long way in the past few years, making it possible for even the smallest of businesses to engage with their consumers across multiple channels, at multiple times, in a cost effective manner. I think businesses in the leisure and hospitality sector are now starting to get to grips with the complexities and opportunities that come with omnichannel communicating and it is good to see.”

Omnichannel hospitality challenges and opportunities

Although omnichannel communicating brings complexities for the sector, it can also open any number of new opportunities.

Scott added: “Omnichannel communications is all about improving consumer experience – delivering a more consistent, personalised brand experience – and with that comes opportunities for leisure and hospitality businesses.”

Increasing sales and enhancing brand loyalty

“There are many examples where an integrated, unified experience has led to increases in sales, more frequent sales and a move back towards brand loyalty. With competition, regionally, nationally and internationally at an all-time-high, those businesses that do not embrace the omnichannel movement will likely very quickly fall behind.”

“Omnichannel does however also introduces a lot of complexities, in terms of operations, order fulfilment, increased costs, IT infrastructure and of course cyber security and fraud management. These are areas that you should definitely not overlook and you should seek advice on before embracing the omnichannel approach.”

More from our leisure and hospitality experts

You can find all of our latest hospitality sector news and newsletters here.

If you are looking for advice in a particular area, please get in touch with your usual Hawsons contact.

Alternatively, we offer all new clients a free initial meeting to have a discussion about their own personal circumstances – find out more or book your free initial meeting here. We have offices in Sheffield, Doncaster and Northampton.

Scott Sanderson began his career with Hawsons and trained as a Chartered Accountant, becoming a partner in 2015, specialising in the healthcare sector and small businesses. For more details and advice, please contact Scott on [email protected] or 0114 266 7141.

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