As the contemporary hospitality industry expands to include more vacation rentals, apartment shares, and other kinds of stay-over locales, hotels are radically changing to keep up with current trends. They are revamping services to set themselves apart from other types of accommodation, becoming more technologically savvy, unique, and personalized. Customers are starting to value experiences that connect them to local culture and connect them to regional sensibilities. For example, upscale, boutique hotels are displaying contemporary artists and using local vendors. In Manhattan, the Renaissance New York Midtown showcases work by New York City artists that evoke the famed garment district in which the hotel is located. The Hilton Orlando (Florida) espouses a ‘farm-to-fork’ philosophy at its premiere restaurant, using ingredients within a 100-mile radius and highlighting regional flavors.
In addition to making larger hotels unique and creating a more experiential brand, hotels are using innovative technology to gain customer loyalty, create a smoother customer experience, and boost sales as well as overall revenue. Expectations of hospitality technology have changed; online travel agencies now bundle flight, hotel, and car expenses together in one package. Likewise, digitally-enabled guests are interested in other online services including digital check-ins and virtual tours. Hotels are responding with updated technology. Using data from customer histories, for example, hotels are developing personalized guest experiences around lighting, temperature, and refreshments. Comprehensive mobile apps are allowing guests to streamline cumbersome processes and minimize check-in time. Moreover, hotels are developing stronger digital brands to increase brand visibility. Because online sites like Travelocity, Orbitz, and Expedia emphasize their own brand, hotel brands are less visible in OTA (online travel agencies) websites. Now, hotels are finding new ways to emphasize their brands through loyalty programs and elite services. Hospitality CRMs (Customer Relations Management) can create that loyalty and enhance customer experience, effectively increasing sales more broadly.
As hotels grow their digital capacities and work to maximize mobility, hospitality CRM software is helping them gain a stronger online presence and increase customer satisfaction. Hotel CRM software helps businesses create smooth customer interactions, manage and analyze data, and improve business relationships with clients, customers, and suppliers to increase customer retention and drive sales growth. CRMs are available at all price points and for any size business; both SMEs and large enterprises can use CRMs to create online databases of customer profiles, analyze what works and what doesn’t, or give customers a more pleasurable service experience. CRMs allow hotels to conduct reservations, check-ins, and other customer interactions through the web, and different CRMs are helping hotels create their own digital brand. In addition, a good CRM platform can help hotels understand their customer base and work toward capitalizing on that base.
Here are nine specific ways that CRMs can help hotels manage clients, create efficient and elegant digital profiles, and create a more productive service experience.
Elegant customer interaction platform: Hospitality CRMs let customers interact with hotels long before they arrive, giving hotels the option of confirmation emails, pre-arrival questionnaires, and optional mobile guest check-in. CRMs also can customize the interactive platform to give hotels a sleek, elegant look associated with the hotel’s brand. Platforms can also offer room upgrades and other amenities before guest check-in, to assure guests have what they want reserved.
Develop online concierge services: Online concierge services help guests plan their itineraries before arrival and can contribute to an effortless guest experience.
Give employees more access/create employee mobility: With mobile devices available to both guests and staff, hospitality CRMs can encourage faster and more efficient communication. Now staff, guests, and other users can communicate via voice, video, or text. Additionally, mobile devices free staff from the desk; staff members can rest assured they are not missing important communications, whether they are on- or off-site.
Retain guests/customer loyalty: By creating those on-target marketing campaigns and connecting with the right guests, CRMs can help hotels generate customer loyalty and retain guests. CRM software can create and market loyalty programs and monitor the success of those programs. A customized platform can optimize loyalty programs by developing key ratings and reviews pages and making “refer a friend” links. By creating mobile apps and websites that maintain brand stability, customers will be able to connect with staff and make reservations worldwide.
Increase broader sales and develop marketing strategies: One of the most crucial elements of a CRM is that it can seamlessly link service information with hospitality sales and marketing. In other words, CRMs let users monitor and craft revenue strategies by interpreting trends and data. Also, CRMs can analyze data and create tailored, last minute mobile promotion or market to locals for staycations or as space for out-of-town guests. CRMs can collate data to link customers with events to market the right rooms to the right customers. Pre-stay emails can reduce unexpected cancellations and no shows.
Track, manage and troubleshoot upkeep and maintenance: With a mobile app and an integrated CRM across divisions, CRM software can monitor facility maintenance and upkeep. Staff and management can list tasks by importance or rearrange tasks in real-time so that users are all updated. Mobile apps keep management and staff in touch, even if they aren’t in the same location.
Data Acquisition: Robust analytics help hotels understand their customer base and build relationships. CRM software can create robust guest profiles that include a customer’s address, interests, visited locations, and other pertinent information that lets users address a guest’s potential needs directly. Whether a guest likes a particular spa or needs specific room accommodations, data can help staff personalize the guest experience. Moreover, CRMs can use data to create and distribute email marketing lists and analyze markets and advertising campaigns. CRMs can track how web traffic flows and let that information inform ad choices.
OTA collaboration: Online travel agencies are becoming one of the most significant ways that guests book hotel rooms. A 2016 survey found that, in developed markets, between 61-75% of hotel guests book their rooms using an OTA. Their popularity stems in part from the OTAs ability to compare prices across a market and robust loyalty programs. However, CRMs let hotels and OTAs collaborate; CRM software can create marketing for OTAs and cash in on the ‘billboard effect’ in which potential customers see the branding link from the OTA site.
Align organizational objectives: Hospitality CRMs allow seamless integration across all departments, including sales, maintenance, service, and management. Because the software works across divisions, all departments can access the same information simultaneously. Customer service, for example, can be linked directly to maintenance, so that problems are taken care of quickly. Sales can look at customer profiles, as can the service staff. With an all-inclusive platform, users can allocate tasks, perform quality control, and move supplies efficiently.
In the hospitality industry, a great CRM cannot replace a caring, efficient, and imaginative staff. What it can do, however, is help that staff function optimally. By automating certain tasks, CRMs free up employees to manage the personal side of service. More importantly, customized CRM software can keep a hotel current, seamlessly integrating personal service with mobile efficiency. Today’s customers expect a certain level of online service, from booking rooms, to making upgrades, to virtual check-in. Digital apps can actually give guests a more personalized experience, keeping records and building brand loyalty. While a device can’t replace the human touch, it can smartly augment a hotel’s professional staff. The staff gives guests personal attention, while CRMs enhance customer experience and keep track of current and potential customer needs. By linking local experience and modern amenities, hotels can offer an elegant, twenty-first-century experience that supersedes that of other types of accommodation.