By Paul Hadida, General Manager, APAC at SevenRooms
For generations, on-premise venues acquired customers through organic foot traffic and word of mouth. Those with prime locations and plenty of foot traffic – meaning more opportunity to get in front of potential or recurring customers – thrived. While these acquisition channels still exist, clubs that rely on them alone will struggle to compete against competitors who meet the needs of today’s ‘omnichannel’ consumers.
Today, venue discovery often begins long before a guest wanders past, or into, a venue. Research from Google reveals that searches for a business + “near me” increased sixfold over recent years. If a club isn’t there during this discovery phase, they don’t exist. But it’s not just Google they’re taking to. SevenRooms’ Direct Discovery & Booking Behaviours research shows there has been a significant diversification in how Australians discover and book venues. In addition to those traditional channels, Aussies use Google (62%), a venue’s website (50%), Facebook (21%), Instagram (18%) and even TikTok (8%).
And with two in three (68%) Aussies agreeing that as a result of cost of living pressures, they’re focusing more on the quality rather than the quantity of their visits, venues must adopt an omnichannel approach so they’re active everywhere their customers are, making the most of every opportunity. But how can clubs deploy and master an effective omnichannel strategy? And how does it enable them to boost acquisition, retention and revenue?
Essentially, an omnichannel marketing approach focuses on being present everywhere your guests are – from social media and Google, to your website and email. So wherever they discover and engage with pubs and clubs, you’re present. It’s also about creating a seamless customer experience across all those channels that creates one clear and consistent message: visit our venue. Through consistent, positive experiences and an omnichannel approach, you can boost your club’s brand recognition and make more money, attracting and retaining guests in the process.
Omnichannel is about more than just online and offline. It’s about ensuring you have a strategy in place to reach your guests across all channels, leveraging the data collected through those channels to build long-term relationships with your guests. With consumers focusing more on the quality rather than the quantity of their visits, direct omnichannel relationships are particularly valuable. Not only do you have the ability to connect the dots with data, but you maintain greater control over the customer experience and journey to make the most out of every interaction.
When using the data collected throughout the customer journey, operators can inform automating marketing at scale, whether through email, social or in-person, guaranteeing consistent, reliable revenue in the future. This is how the next generation of hospitality leaders are building more sustainable hospitality businesses.
Every channel, from social media to foot traffic, direct relationships to third party marketplaces, are opportunities to reach and retain customers. Today’s venues need to be looking at all the potential avenues through which they can drive business and make more money. Omnichannel marketing lets venue operators look at their overall strategy through a wider lens, so they can double down on what’s working, and determine where improvement is needed.
There is space for marketplaces in a venue’s marketing strategy, but club operators shouldn’t be entirely reliant on those systems to drive revenue. They also shouldn’t be completely reliant on PR and social media to ‘go viral’ or plan to stay relevant through word of mouth or foot traffic. Simply hoping you’ll be discovered does not work, particularly if you are limiting the channels you can be discovered and booked on. With competition higher than ever before, standing out from the crowd requires a holistic approach that puts you in control of your relationships and guest experiences.
Omnichannel marketing is a fundamental part of a venue’s acquisition strategy, but discovery and acquisition is just the beginning. Retention is what drives real revenue. Consumers want experiences that are relevant and personalised – and by bubbling up the right data at the right time using technology to automate this process, clubs can generate more money from their existing book of business. This means understanding who your customer is, what they want and how they want it. Then using that information to create marketing campaigns focused on those wants and needs – like a wine tasting experience for oenophiles, shellfish specials for oyster lovers, or booking incentives for those making a reservation during a less busy time for the venue.
Irrespective of economic pressures or individual consumer habits, an omnichannel strategy helps clubs reach guests where they want to be met. So while a high street location will always be important, venues that rely on that alone will struggle to compete against venues that acquire members and guests through multiple channels, engage with them through meaningful guest experiences and retain them through personalised marketing.
Keep an eye out for the Spring issue of Club Management to be published shortly, which will include articles on marketing strategy.