Guest Relations Manager guide to hotel CRM
Hotels use CRM to engage guests from the moment they book a room, throughout their stay, and on to every return visit. Every touch point along the way, from personalized marketing emails to confirmation to survey or post-stay offer, tells the guest, “We understand you, we value your business, and we’re here to help.” But CRM doesn’t just happen naturally. Whether you work for an independent boutique hotel or a big-brand resort, you need a clear understanding of goals and responsibilities. You also need fast, reliable software that works quietly in the background, automating guest communications, collecting data, and building rich guest profiles.
Behind every successful CRM program is a team of committed staff, for many hotels, they are made up of:
- Marketing Manager/Director of Marketing
- Front Office Manager
- Guest Relations Manager
- Revenue Manager
- General Manager
To ensure that no opportunity is missed and no guest is overlooked, all members of the CRM team should have a clear understanding of their individual roles and responsibilities. In this article, we take a look at the important role the Guest Relations Manager plays when it comes to CRM.
Not every hotel has the luxury of a dedicated guest relations manager. For those that don’t, responsibilities are shared among departments, with the front office manager often taking the lead role.
The guest relations manager is primarily concerned with guest satisfaction and advocacy. While every manager plays a role in listening to and acting on guest feedback, the GRM takes primary responsibility for managing feedback.
This includes monitoring feedback channels, disseminating information to appropriate departments, coordinating responses, and tracking performance.
KEY AREAS OF RESPONSIBILITY
- Planning. Works with the general manager and CRM team to set annual guest satisfaction objectives, responding guidelines, and key performance metrics.
- Survey design. Works with the CRM team to design guest surveys to maximize completion rates and elicit insights into key areas of the guest experience.
- Guest arrivals. Reviews the daily arrivals list, looking for return guests who completed a survey or review on a previous stay and require special attention. Takes action to avoid recurring issues, accommodates preferences and surprises guests with thoughtful personal touches.
- Monitoring feedback. Tracks guest surveys and online reviews as soon as they are received, flagging items that require attention and taking action where needed.
- Sharing feedback. Brings important feedback to the attention of appropriate managers for follow-up with staff and guests.
- Responding. Creates templates and personally responds to surveys and reviews or coordinates responses with the general manager or designated department head.
- Reporting. Tracks guest satisfaction metrics, including survey ratings, Net Promoter Score and review ratings. Prepares weekly, monthly and annual reports for distribution to the management team. Shares performance and pertinent guest comments on the staff bulletin board, by email and in departmental meetings.
Did you know that guest surveys can have a powerful influence on TripAdvisor ratings? Hotels that include a review prompt in surveys report more reviews and higher ratings. At Pacific Crest Santa Barbara, after setting up a TripAdvisor Review Collection Partnership with Guestfolio CRM, the property jumped from #41 of 52 hotels in Santa Barbara on TripAdvisor to #1 in just 3 months.
CRM TIPS AND BEST PRACTICES FOR THE GUEST RELATIONS MANAGER
- Make surveys short. Generally, the shorter and simpler the survey, the higher the completion rate. Focus on areas where guest feedback is most needed.
- Target segments. Consider customizing surveys for different segments of guests such as conference attendees, corporate travelers, and leisure guests.
- Send a reminder. To increase completion rates, send an automated reminder to guests who do not open or click on a survey request—but leave it as one reminder to avoid unsubscribes.
- Ask the ultimate question. The most important question you can ask guests? “How likely are you to recommend our hotel to a colleague or friend?” The answer forms your Net Promoter Score, a key indicator of guest satisfaction and advocacy.
- Fine-tune questions. If survey answers aren’t providing the insight you need, try modifying the questions. Bear in mind, however, that keeping questions consistent will help you compare ratings over time.
- Don’t delay. Respond to complaints in surveys and on property as quickly as possible to prevent them from escalating to negative online reviews.
- Show your problem-solving might. Guests judge hotels less on things that go wrong than on how staff responds to the issue. Take every complaint seriously, offer a sincere apology, and show that you understand and are here to help. When expertly handed, your toughest customers can become your strongest advocates.
- Never let a guest leave unhappy. Scan the departures list each morning to look for guests who had a complaint or incident during their stay and reach out to them. This may be the last opportunity to win them over before they post a bad review!
- Personalize responses. Use response templates to save time, but personalize messages where possible by speaking to specific comments. When appropriate, call the guest personally or ask the general manager to do so.
- Thank your advocates. Don’t focus only on negative feedback; respond to promoters and advocates too. They’re as important as detractors, if not more so.
“Our guest relations team engages with guests to find out more about their preferences and interests and enters it into the CRM. Our other teams look at the CRM and act on this information. One example is a guest asked for a Diet Coke at the hotel restaurant, our dining staff [alerted] housekeeping to change the products in his mini-bar to Diet Coke. He left us a really nice TripAdvisor review.”
– Patrick Sin, Director of Sales, Marketing, and Revenue Management, Hotel ICON, Hong Kong
“Using Guestfolio CRM, we send automated emails to upsell to guests and ask for their preferences before they arrive. They can reserve our free bikes or order wine, breakfast, and other amenities. We get a lot of repeat guests and use the guest profile system to keep track of their preferences. We make sure that when they return, they have everything set up to their liking. For example, the foam pillows they requested last time are already in the room.”
– Justin Bisa, Guest Experience Manager, East Hotel, Canberra, Australia