While customer relationship management (CRM) is a term that encompasses both human interaction and software, some references to it might refer exclusively to technology but very few mentions of it would encompass both. For the successful hospitality operator, a CRM system is an essential piece of software that enables them to provide the perfect experience for a guest, no matter what channel they came through, what their reason for travel is, or who they are travelling with.
The software layer simply resides where the human layer of CRM cannot: in front of the customer when he or she is not in residence at a brand property, whether that be online, mobile, or email; in the back office, storing guest records and strictly maintaining the privacy of that information; in the marketing department, helping to formulate personalized campaigns for greater revenue and loyalty; and with the customer in between visits, reminding him or her of the affinity he or she has for the brand, and when the next stay might be.
In order for CRM in its full capacity to be successful, a hospitality operator must get to the heart of what drives all these touchpoints and what will ultimately enable them to provide a perfect experience for every guest – their data.
So, what is the aim of gathering all of this data? And what will the hotel do for the customer once it has been collated and analyzed? The aim is to learn about the guests’ behavior and use it to predict what they may pick/do in the future. The hotel will identify opportunities to surprise and delight the guest, ideally during their first stay which in turn would encourage them to return and become a loyal customer.
For example, a standard urban business hotel in Singapore may not have a golf course or a swimming pool and the guest may have had the hotel chosen for him by a corporate travel agency. While this property may not have originally been the business traveler’s first choice, using even basic data that the guest provides, the hotel can work to improve the stay of the new customer and begin generating loyalty. This new guest can be offered the opportunity to register for the brand’s loyalty program, and made aware of any incentives and special promotions available to new members, be they discounts, upgrades, or other incentives.
First timers may also be made to feel at home with even the most basic orientation – location of local amenities should they have extra time during their stay, reminders about operating times for dining outlets, including the availability and hours of in-room dining, if available; laundry services and cut-off times for same-day return of garments; location and hours of operation for fitness, spa and pool facilities.
Providing this information may also elicit responses from the guest that will indicate their leanings (such as preferring to handle one’s own laundry rather than use cleaning services). It’s also a chance to notify the guest of reward-earning activities, such as declining daily housekeeping services in exchange for a daily loyalty points award. All of this information on preferences will be stored in the guest’s profile so if/when they do return, the hotel is empowered to tailor the experience to align with their wants and needs. This data can also be used in marketing automation to entice the guest to return with personalized and relevant offers and promotions.
For returning or premium-level customers, expectations will be higher, but the ability to offer rewards will also be greater. This is true not just for hoteliers, but in other areas including airline and car rental, the same basics apply. Using a more comprehensive profile demonstrates clear patterns of behavior and guides the hotel on how to serve the customer better. There’s no point in offering a welcome cocktail to a guest who has never visited any of the chain’s bars or ordered an alcoholic beverage during a meal.
Using a CRM to garner this level of detail on each guest is one of the simplest ways to improve the guest experience, make sense of all their data and focus on building long lasting relationships that generate satisfaction and brand loyalty. To find out more about what CRM can do for you, request a consultation.