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The Green Sheet Online Edition

April 08, 2024 • Issue 24:04:01

The importance of an effective digital hospitality strategy

By Matt Ryan

A financial institution’s (FI) brand is about so much more than just its logo, tagline and social media handle. It is about the experience it gives to its clients. This is the primary way its clients and customers are truly able to connect with it.

While many leading FIs have invested in state-of-the-art office spaces designed to wow prospects and give the best first impression, this experience often falls short in the digital realm.

Take for example an investor meeting or an annual general meeting (AGM). In many cases, FIs might default to generic virtual platforms or online conferencing tools that clearly pale in comparison to the prestige they've carefully cultivated when it comes to their physical spaces and experiences. So, what is the best strategy to enhance this area of the brand? Let’s explore.

Digital hospitality under the microscope

The importance of a digital hospitality strategy accelerated during the pandemic. During this time, many companies utilized a myriad of virtual tools to ensure effective operations and minimal disruption during a team when the broader world shut down. It had a monumental impact on how we work and collaborate.

But are these tools still relevant today? I believe users have higher expectations of the brands they engage with. They expect a seamless experience across all digital touchpoints. That's digital hospitality. When done well, digital hospitality creates on-brand, personalized, frictionless and engaging experiences. The benefits are infinite: greater customer satisfaction, differentiation from competitors, and enhanced brand loyalty.

That is the positive, but I must be clear that many digital experiences do fall into the trap of being scattered and inconsistent. Many FIs today utilize multiple platforms and channels that don’t always integrate with each other. This means limited control over branding, analytics and, ultimately, experience.

Similarly, many organizations also operate in silos, with different departments using disparate platforms, such as one tool for webinars, another for surveys, etc. While an audience engagement platform might be seen solely as a marketing solution, it can add value all across the business from training and onboarding to sales demos, thought leadership content and communications. If FIs take a holistic approach to audience engagement, creating unique experiences for both internal and external audiences, they’re able to gain access to valuable insights and make better data-driven decisions.

Defining a digital hospitality strategy

The first step in shaping a digital strategy is to create a single online destination for all content, whether it's live, gated or on demand. By implementing a single sign-on solution and removing the need for users to fill in a new form for every piece of content, institutions reduce friction at every stage of the journey to build a smoother, richer experience.

The next step is to allow audiences to explore content on their terms. By removing rigid, predefined marketing funnels, brands put their users at the center of the experience. The easier it is for visitors to access what they want, when they want, the higher the chance they could dig deeper.

Staying with the content theme, people enjoy a wide range of diverse types of content. We’ve seen how the media landscape has shifted over the years, and people now consume news in a multitude of ways. The same can be said in financial services. Customers, partners, prospects and investors must be engaged in different ways.

My advice is to develop a diverse multimedia library, including videos, webinars, podcasts, courses, live streams and interactive workshops. That’s not to say it all has to be new. Content can be worked and reworked in multiple ways to engage audiences – a video can be turned into a blog post, for example. Then it is possible to track user behavior across all digital touchpoints to gather rich intent data, and personalize experiences going forward.

Staying ahead of the competition

Digital Hospitality holds enormous opportunities for FIs to differentiate from their competitors and be market leaders. But if they do not invest in this area of the digital experience, then there is a real risk that competitors will run with it and use it to their advantage.

Digital hospitality done effectively means a better brand experience for audiences and more value delivered across an entire organization. end of article

Matt Ryan is chief transformation officer at Reef, powered by Totem. Matt has more than 15 years of experience working with and alongside world famous brands to deliver transformation at every level. After a highly successful exit as an entrepreneur, he has since set about elevating companies ranging from long-standing NASDAQ behemoths to exciting startup and scale-up businesses. His industry-agnostic success is founded on a demonstrable and innate ability to identify and understand a marketplace and its customers, often in very different and nuanced ways. This results in a strategy, a construct and a narrative that consistently deliver unprecedented results. To learn more, visit: https://wearetotem.io/financial-services/ . Reef is an award-winning audience engagement platform designed for events, webinars, communities, and courses. Totem has been supporting some of the world's biggest financial brands and delivering the sector's most prestigious international events for over 20 years. To learn more, please visit: https://wearetotem.io/

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