Extending the Value of CRM Investment

By Bernard Ellis President & Founder, Lodgital Insights LLC | March 29, 2015

According to Gartner, the customer relationship management (CRM) market is projected to increase to $36.5 billion by 2017. Businesses across all industries are looking to improve customer interactions through technology, but this is particularly critical for hoteliers who are losing ownership of customer relationships to online travel agencies (OTAs) that are outspending them on CRM technology and marketing. CRM applications have the ability to enable real-time connections between hospitality companies and their customers, and benefits are only compounded when solutions are integrated with advanced platforms for revenue management, mobility and business intelligence.

Targeting the Right Guest with the Right Offer

Long gone are the days of "spray and pray" when sending customers every marketing offer imaginable, despite its relevance, was the best way to maximize return. Today's generation of guests expects a more personalized experience that allows them to interact with the hotel property in real-time. This is where CRM technology plays an essential role. By selecting the latest in marketing management solutions to help drive multi-channel and multi-wave campaigns, hoteliers can deliver promotional packages that take guest preferences, demographics and relevance into account. In today's increasingly competitive market, delivering the right offer to the right customer with the appropriate timing is essential to facilitate higher acceptance rates. Increased acceptance indicates greater guest satisfaction, ultimately impacting both revenue and the overall guest experience to help boost top line profits.

When selecting a CRM application, hoteliers should look for functionality that will allow the organization to build interaction profiles in real-time as customers engage with the property or chain. By automatically storing information on individual preferences and past responses, hoteliers have the necessary insight to send offers that are most likely to elicit a response. This makes the guest feel as if they have a more personal relationship with the property because offers are always timely and applicable, which helps to drive the customer's loyalty to the brand. A CRM system that simply automates email creation is no longer adequate. Communications must be meaningful and dynamic versus static, and "learn" from each interaction in order for hoteliers to maximize the return on offers and realize their full benefit.

Consider this illustration. Mr. X is a VIP guest and frequent patron at a luxury resort. Almost any property management system will display his VIP status and preferences to resort employees, and some more modern ones will show purchase history. However, without an integrated CRM application, that is usually where the information stops. Without more guidance from a CRM application, employees will miss opportunities to present him with offers during multiple interactions throughout the day. If the property equipped users with a real-time CRM system, information on this guest would not only be displayed, but it would also be accompanied by recommendations for relevant deals or experiences of interest.

Synchronizing Marketing and Revenue Management

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.