Unlock your data with hotel CRM
For hotels, data is a gift, but to get your data working for you, let’s look at how best to collect, store and utilize it. The term data is so overused these days it’s lost its meaning, but really it’s quite simple. Data is facts and information. Customer relationship management (CRM) data is the information hotels store related to guest behavior and interests, from basic contact details to precise preferences like a king bed and hypoallergenic pillows. Ensuring that your data is captured and processed by a CRM will enable you to utilize it and understand it in a way that works well for you and your hotel.
Why is data so valuable?
Should you believe the hype—is data more valuable than oil? For hotels, perhaps, because it helps you make more informed decisions. Data tells you who your guests are and how to connect with them in meaningful, memorable ways. It also helps you identify your most valuable guests, entice them back, and find others like them.
All of which advance the three ultimate objectives of hotel management: driving profitable revenue, increasing guest satisfaction, and earning guest loyalty.
For hotels, there is a constant ebb and flow of guest data:
- DATA IN. Data flows into the hotel from multiple sources.
- DATA STORAGE. Data is collected and stored in various systems.
- DATA OUT. Data is extracted for use in operations and marketing.
“Data is a hotel’s most valuable asset to personalize marketing. Unfortunately, too often that data simply sits there getting stale while nobody does anything with it. We need to unlock the power of that data, making it actionable in an intelligent way so that data can be used to drive real business results” says Tim Sullivan, Chief Revenue Officer, Cendyn.
While the concept of data is fairly simple, the process of data collection is more complicated. We can divide the customer journey into three phases. In each phase, the customer leaves data at various touchpoints—clues about who they are, their behavior, and their likes and dislikes.
This phase encompasses trip planning, booking and preparation. Touchpoints along the way may include Google searches, visits to an OTA and your website, a booking through central reservations, and an email confirmation.
This phase begins upon the guest’s arrival and continues through to checkout. Touchpoints may include check-in at the front desk, calls or texts to guest services, drinks in the bar, activities like spa or golf, and breakfast.
This phase starts the moment the guest departs and lasts through to the next reservation. Touchpoints may include a post-stay survey, connections by social media, online advertising, e-newsletters, and email offers to return.
Over time, the accumulation of a guest’s stays at a hotel or within a brand represents the customer lifecycle. Depending on how effectively the hotel uses the guest’s data, the lifecycle may be short—just one stay—or long and prosperous, with multiple stays and lots of extravagant spending.
As the hotel collects data, it must find somewhere to store it. The challenge here is that guest data is scattered across multiple systems within and outside of a hotel, including the website, CRS, PMS, POS, survey tool and social media, just to name a few.
If these systems don’t communicate well with one another, the data sits trapped in silos.To use it, hotel staff must find ways to extract and aggregate it. But in the process data often comes out “dirty”—rife with duplicates, discrepancies, and incomplete information. Cleaning it up takes time, is prone to error, and can result in sketchy data.
The CRM data warehouse
To be truly useful, guest data must be aggregated, cleansed and stored in one central database. Traditionally, the PMS has played this role, but if your PMS is hampered by outdated technology and limited capabilities, as many are, you won’t be able to build and extract the rich profile data you need.
As an alternative, many hotels are turning to the CRM as the central repository for guest profile data. With built-in integration capabilities, the CRM can:
- Connect with a range of hotel systems, including the CRS, PMS and POS
- Integrate marketing, loyalty, sales and catering, food & beverage, and spa data
- Pull in data from third-party sites
The CRM also facilitates the cleansing of data, creating one comprehensive profile per guest—the single version of truth.
Profile data capabilities go well beyond the typical PMS fields to encompass the guest’s photo, links to social profiles, the reason for their stay, reservation history, preferred room types and amenities, transactional information, loyalty program information, feedback from previous stays, and much more.
Now that all guest data is consolidated and tamed, it’s time to take it out to play.Here are just a few of the basic functions you can perform with the help of your CRM:
- Send automated confirmations based on reservation and preference data.
- Send automated pre-stay emails inviting guests to start planning their stay.
- Personalize segmented offers to upsell to higher categories of rooms and amenities.
- Recognize guests upon arrival with detailed profile information.
- Provide a tailored check-in experience.
- Offer personalized services and amenities.
- Segment guests based on behaviorand interests.
- Entice guests back with customized, personalized email offers.
- Track expenditures throughout the customer lifecycle.
- Identify the most loyal and valuable guests.
- Find other travelers with similar traits and behaviors.
- Send post-stay surveys and integrate feedback into the guest profile.
Once you have the basics down, it’s time to learn new tricks. Here are just a few of the advanced functions you can perform with your CRM:
- Manage marketing automation and guest intelligence at the enterprise level, including multi-property and multi-brand implementations. Ensure your guests are recognized and treated as loyal guests regardless of which hotel they stay at within your group.
- Analyze booking patterns, purchase history and sentiment for advanced targeting and higher guest satisfaction.
- Automate and segment communications based on a multitude of data points such as spend per stay, frequency, booking patterns, and reasons for travel.
- Automate website marketing, display advertising and social media marketing activities to drive more traffic to your website and improve guest retention rates.
- Match guests with any publicly available data across any social network and gather information about their behaviors across a range of channels to further personalize their experience.
- Build multiple best guest personas (e.g., mid-week, business travel, weekend, leisure, etc.) and target campaigns to each group.
- Find potential best guests based on demographics, lifestyle, behavior, preferences and travel history and target them with social advertising.
- Manage your loyalty program and integrate it with other CRM capabilities.
It’s time to start unpacking. When you take an integrated, centralized approach to CRM, data truly is a gift. Now it’s time to unpack your guest data and get it performing for you. Want to find out more? Take a look at the entire guide – Unpack your data with CRM.