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 today's 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**

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.