Texting Makes Real-Time CRM a Reality for Hotels

By Matt Schvimmer Chief Marketing Officer, Zingle, Inc. | March 05, 2017

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a tried and true method of connecting with guests and customers across a number of platforms including websites, social media, apps, live chat, email and phone. Selecting a CRM software solution is notoriously laborious and the software itself has the reputation of being expensive and hard to implement. Hotels and hospitality organizations who operate at a local level, and thrive on the relationships they have in the community, need a nimble, real-time CRM solution to engage with their guests and be responsive to their service needs. Although mobile technology has certainly equipped hospitality teams with more on-the-go solutions such as apps and responsive websites, customer relationship solutions that are truly real-time for both the organization and the guest, have not been available.

The need for real-time CRM is definitely a product of todays society. Today, people expect instant gratification and near instant responses from the companies and brands they interact with. A 24-hour response time is no longer acceptable for any inquiry, and of course in the high-demand environment of hospitality, response times are measured in minutes, not in hours.

The widespread adoption of texting and ubiquity of mobile devices has now made real-time CRM a possibility. Ninety-seven percent of texts are opened and read within the first three minutes. The benefits of this instant connection with guests are numerous. Hotels and clubs alike are experiencing benefits that include more personal and frequent engagement with guests, better operational efficiency, more income and the coveted goal of increased guest loyalty. Texting platforms are also scalable and approachable for 100-room properties or 1,000-room properties and beyond.

Personal, Ongoing Text Conversations Are Key to Guest Engagement and Decreased Calls
Texting allows you to interact with your guests in the moment and in a more conversational tone, while establishing two-way communication. An ongoing, threaded text conversation mimics how people interact with each other in their everyday lives, which also means that when guests are texting their hotel, restaurant or club they are building a more personal connection than ever before.

For example, Hotel Del Coronado, the 129-year-old legendary oceanfront beach resort located in San Diego, adopted texting as a real-time CRM tool last year. In less than four months, the number of texts they received from guests doubled, which reduced its inbound call traffic and response times. The efficiency of texting with guests is tremendous. Staff members using a texting platform can manage multiple conversations at once, compared to phone calls that last much longer and can only be managed one at a time. Since the record of the text conversation remains stored in a platform, other team members can pick up the same conversation when their shifts start. The customer records stay with the property, despite any staff turn-over that may occur.

Guests Relationships Thrive on Communications Continuity

Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.