Developing true guest relationship management

Customer relationship management often falls short for hotel brands – what can be done to create true guest relationship management?

When it comes to customer relationships, not all industries are created equal.

The hospitality industry is a case in point.

There’s no sales pipeline. The engagement cycle is shorter, less structured, and less predictable. Guests have immediate visibility into pricing and availability across the entire market. And the guest relationship is truly omni-channel spanning web, mobile, native apps, call center, and on-site interactions.

So, how can a hotel brand avoid the shortcomings of conventional CRM tools iin managing this relationship, and embrace true Guest Relationship Management?

Personalisation 2.0
Using a guest’s name in an email offer may make that offer or interaction personal, but it isn’t personalization. Effective guest relationship management requires the 1:1 marketing that takes into account the guest’s history, preferences, survey responses, loyalty/rewards activity, the list goes on.

Simply targeting different offers or recommendations to different guest profiles isn’t enough. Each interaction needs to consider the entire context of each guest’s experience, both online and on property. Small details make all the difference.

Think outside the Inbox
To create a rich, relevant, and personalized relationship with guests, hotels need to do more than deliver enticing email offers. They need to engage guests across every channel they may use, including email, app activity, on-site interactions, reward/loyalty accounts, and the call center — and those interactions need to be consistent, relevant, and meaningful. And the brand is only as strong as the weakest link in this chain.

Centralize data
Guest interactions are a complex phenomenon. They can occur almost anywhere, and no single system will house all of the data a hotel needs to engage, nurture, and convert prospective guests into paying customers. That’s why it’s so important to have a single, integrated platform that consolidates all of the needed data to assemble a complete and nuanced picture of each guest.

Today’s consumers have high expectations and access to a wider range of choices. When they interact with a brand, they have little patience for inconsistencies resulting from a brand’s enterprise silos, each with its own processes, systems and data. Guests see their experience as a more holistic interaction with a single entity – and they expect consistency. Centralized data is critical to providing that consistency.

Keep eyes on the KPIs
In the race to engage guests and get them to book a stay, it can be tempting to rely too much on the response to a specific promotion or campaign. The hospitality industry operates under tight margins and intense competition, so hotels need to balance attractive offers with their own profitability and performance on measures such as REVPAR, average daily rate, and occupancy percentage.

To do that, they need the capability to adjust offers and promotions in real time and see how those offers and promotions ultimately affect the bottom line. After all, like any relationship, guest relationships are a two-way street. They need to work for both parties to be successful.

Add intelligence

Succeeding in all of these areas requires the ability to identify patterns, spot emerging trends, and isolate the nuances hiding in raw data. This demands advanced tools in capabilities in areas such as data science, predictive analytics, and machine learning. It also means using the broader context of a guest’s peer group to determine how best to engage an individual guest.

Managing the guest relationship is more than marketing. In hospitality, the guest experience is the product — and the engagement cycle is a critical phase of the ongoing relationship. The more intelligent, personal, and relevant a hotel can be in its interactions with guests, the greater the likelihood of turning a onetime booking into a brand.

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