From multi-channel marketing to cross channel marketing: true examples in the travel industry

10 jan. 2010 | Written by Julia

Statistics say that 80% of the French customers (the figure is certainly the same in other European countries) want to have the possibility to shop as well on-line as in brick-and-mortar shops, and want to have the possibility to use and cross the distribution channels as they want. Moreover, the on-line research about a product contributes to 74% of the off-line purchase (Sterling Commerce, 2008).

Using this study, it is interesting to wonder about the way it happens in the industry of the leisure travel.

First of all, we shall remind you that multi-channel distribution is only a first step during which a company is able to interact with its customers through several distribution channel. The next step is the cross-channel distribution, which is more valuable, because it sets up a real complement to the distribution channels. The company can then get a unique view of its customers and can improve the customer experiences.

We  shall notice that in the travel industry, the setting of this complement would be  easier in an integrated tour-operator. Indeed, the products available are the same on the company website and in the travel agencies, prices are harmonized, and the long-standing relationship between the tour-operator and its distribution network should optimize (and bring peace in) this off-line/on-line relationship.

So, here are some concrete examples that improve the customer’s experiences by making easier his navigation through the company’s distribution channels.

Geolocation of the travel agency

The most common initiative, whatsoever we are in the travel industry or in any other sector, is to let the customer, from the company website, geolocate the closest physical point of sales. So, this brings customers from the online channel to the physical channels.

Awarding of sales to an off-line travel agency

This case is also very common in the travel sector. Customers, although there are getting more and more used to ordering on the Internet, still need to be reassured when they are booking a travel. Moreover, this usage is also a way to bring peace inside the distribution network, between the agencies and the head office piloting the on-line sales.

This also helps to deal with complex demands, which cannot yet be handle through an  automated process.

Thus, on Selectour French website, we can find a call-back button that gives the possibility to the website visitor to be called back by the off-line travel agent of his choice. As for Thomas Cook France, the website visitor can make a pre-booking and finalize it in an agency.  Recently, within the framework of Lastminte France and Jeancarthier partnership, the group quote made on Lastminute website have been available in Jeancarthier’s physical points of sales (in return, Jeancarthier’s travel agencies promote Lasminute products).

Interactive advertising

Finally, one side on which the interactions between the physical world and the numeric world are booming is the interactive advertising.

For example, the new billboards currently tested in train and metro stations in Paris display digital posters (see a TV report in France24). So their content can be modified depending on the time or the influence. They also enable to measure the performances of campaigns (with captors recording the eyes movements of the watchers) and to interact with bystanders by exchanging content through their mobile phones.

This billboards are quite close to the interactive shop windows that are developing in the fashion industry (Morgan, Ralf Lauren), the leisure industry (Fnac) and as well the tourism industry (CorsairFly).

Finally, the last innovations are coming with the mobile phones.  These devices can be at the same time a marketing channel and a distribution channel through the use of 2D barcodes, RFID technology and/or the mobile web.

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