Omni-channel marketing may be a new word in the marketing vocabulary of tourism organizations yet is it not a new concept. It is what tourism marketing should have been all along – the perfect marketing approach for destinations which have a combination of physical locations, digital marketing programs, websites, multiple social media platforms and more, all ways in which they get their message out to, and interact with the visitor community.
Most destination marketing organizations are still at the multi-channel environment stage, where visitors access a variety of communication platforms, but the messages and operations are not necessarily synchronized, connected, or coordinated. Many DMOs have great mobile marketing, engaging social media platforms, and well-designed websites. But if they don’t all work together, all platforms don’t recognize the same visitor in the same way and the messages aren’t consistent from one platform to another. Yet, when visitors become repeat visitors, they want the destination to know they have been there before. In the omni-channel environment, all of the multiple channels are connected, so that visitors can move seamlessly between them.
Technology innovations have rebalanced the entire marketplace to the point where any DMO supplier – and any business for that matter – can now reach visitors directly employing their own either free, or low cost, electronic tools, and visitors can find anything they want without ever accessing the DMO website. The number of electronic communication avenues have now expanded so far beyond the traditional social media platforms that visitors in some destinations can walk down the street and be presented with comprehensive information, offers, ticketing and directions, right on their smartphones, all delivered, not by the DMO but directly by suppliers.
It’s going to be very important for DMOs to embrace the omni-channel marketing environment, to coordinate the marketing of suppliers for greater synergy and marketing reach, as well as handling visitor conversations, while maintaining a single view of the visitor. They will once again have to become the “keeper of the information” and utilize the data that is generated by an integrated analytics platform to reveal strategic information about visitors that can be used to make their experience at the destination better. This comprehensive approach to destination marketing will make the DMO a critical player in experience delivery to visitors and a linchpin in economic development success.