How to Drive Hotel CRM Without Increasing Your Costs

By Shayne Paddock Vice President of Product Development & Innovation, TravelClick | April 22, 2018

Do you remember the last time you went to your favorite restaurant, did the host give you a special table? Did your waiter bring you your favorite cocktail? When you went to get your last haircut, did the stylist remember how you like your hair done? What color you want it dyed? When you get your coffee at Starbucks each morning, does the barista on the morning shift remember your name and place your order without asking to speed you through the line? Do you ever go to your favorite restaurant and the server simply asks, "the usual"? How good does that make you feel?

Whether you're at a favorite restaurant, a coffee shop, or your salon, you expect personalized service and benefit from the relationship you've built up over time. The bottom line is they make you feel welcome, special and appreciated. The hospitality industry is no different. And, in fact, the expectations are even higher. But unlike your favorite restaurant, your local hair stylist or your regular Starbucks, it's much less likely that a hotel's associate will be able to recognize a particular guest on sight and give them the personalized experience they yearn for.

Why does this matter? Personalized service is a huge driver of customer loyalty. This seems obvious, but the question is, why don't most hotels do a better job of it? Some hotels do it by adding staff. But how can you - and your staff deliver a personalized experience without growing your employee and cost base? It starts with knowing your guest.

Each and every interaction with a guest is an opportunity to learn more about how to delight your guests and ensure that they return. It begins with their reservation. Whether they pick up the phone, or reserve online, each touchpoint is an opportunity to learn more about a potential guest. Whether it's a particular type of room preference or a special request, everything can be recorded in your guest management system and made accessible to your associates.

According to Camille Filiol, CRM Manager at AMAN, "Guest recognition is first and foremost a question of identifying your guest at each step of their journey with your brand so you can treat them as individuals, personalise their experiences and cater to their unique needs at that point in time of their journey with the brand. The main enabler of recognition is a reliable guest database with complete and accurate information that is accessible by key people in the business and can be continuously enriched via two-way integration with our PMS system."

In the old days, long mail surveys were the primary way many businesses collected customer information, and totals from a sample population were aggregated across customer segments because it wasn't feasible to develop a 1:1 relationship. Today, computing power means that every screen, armed with a browser, has access to your guest records and can take actions based on this data. This means that you don't need to rely on the once a year nature of a paper survey, and you don't need to generalize the guest experience. Instead, you can use every interaction as an opportunity to get more information about your guests and leverage that data to serve them better. You just need to give your associates the tools they need to do their job and empower them to take actions based on the data.

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Coming up in June 2019...

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.