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 April 2019...

Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.