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Hotel CRM, the customer relationship management tool par excellence

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software does exactly what it promises to do: manage customer relations. It is sometimes (wrongly) regarded as a simple emailing tool, or as a solution for managing business proposals. 

In actuality, it is a combination of tools and connections which manage all of the hotel’s interactions with each guest through different channels:

  • On a customer portal
  • On the hotel website
  • In marketing and transactional emails
  • On social networks
  • By SMS
  • Through customer satisfaction surveys

A good CRM offers a consistent and personalised customer experience thanks to an extensive and continuously updated database. 

The need to communicate via multiple channels makes it difficult to manage customer relationships manually, and ensure uniformity between the different people involved and points of contact. Closing channels is also not a solution as it can impede contact with certain customers. 

The statistics are clear; the mobile phone is the best medium for interacting with guests at all times during their stay. In 2019, more than half of travellers used a mobile device to book their hotel room and 70% of online travel bookings were made on a mobile device. 

Being “mobile-friendly” is therefore no longer optional, you have to: contact (and be able to be contacted) by SMS, offer your services on mobile, have a website and a customer portal on mobile, be responsive via chat, offer a check-in or check-out on mobile, etc.

 

A CRM, WHAT DOES IT ACTUALLY DO?

Centralising customer data

A hotel has at its disposal a quantity of customer information among all of its tools, which it cannot exploit due to lack of time or functional limitations. The interest here is therefore to extract this difficult to access information and, if possible,  with minimal manual intervention (through export or connection).

 

Processing this data

The point of data collection is not to collect all the data but to select only that which is useful. This process consists of removing duplicate, redundant or even obsolete data (such as an e-mail address that is no longer active). These data are then consolidated to retrieve more complete and “cleaned” information.

 

Allowing it to be interpreted

Great data presentation is essential for proper use of the tool. For example, knowing that a guest is a repeat customer is not information that is always known to hoteliers, however absurd it may seem; and yet it is crucial in customer relations. This information can take the form of a visible tag on the customer file that would indicate that the customer is a regular guest. Or that a customer who stayed on 11/01/2020 is a ‘weekend guest’.

 

Exploiting it

It is one thing to have classified and cleaned customer data at your fingertips, but you have to be able to do something with it. First of all, having search functions in your customer database is an important first step. Hoteliers must be able to easily access a list of their regular or business customers to create effective emailing campaigns for those customer segments. 

These customer lists must be able to be exploited within the tool with personalised and automated campaigns. The tool can then go even further by proposing a cross-channel scenario with triggers based on customer behaviour. If, for example, the customer has not opened the pre-stay email offering pre-check-in, the system should send them an SMS reminding them to do so before their departure to facilitate their arrival at the hotel. On the other hand, a guest who has already completed the pre-check-in by e-mail should not receive this SMS.

Failing this, it must be possible to export these customer lists for use in other tools. While this can work out, one loses the advantage of centralising customer interactions and automatically scripting paths according to customer behavior. 

 

FOR WHAT PURPOSE?

Putting the guest first

Hotel processes often focus on the hotel and not the guest. A CRM makes it possible to create a highly personalised experience, even on the scale of a large hotel chain. At every moment of the trip, the customer must feel accompanied by the hotel. They must have the instinct to turn to the hotel as soon as they have a particular request. To do this, the hotel must first show them that it is available on the channels the guest uses. 

A regular customer must be valued and their experience each time different and adapted to their preferences (welcomed by name, favourite room, restaurant table, tailored services…).

The formula is no secret, a hotel’s success comes from the satisfaction and comfort of its guests, and undertaking a digital transformation to enrich the guest experience is no longer optional.

 

Helping the teams

The entire hotel team benefits from the tool: from the receptionist for (re)familiarising themselves with the guests arriving that day, to the owner who can better understand the typology of customers, to the Marketing and Communication managers who can use it to upsell and increase the average customer purchase.

Everyone can access customer information and share it with other team members. 

The team’s manual notes are important and should be valued in the tool: “Mr. Smith prefers a room with a view, a difficult client especially with regard to his bed, is vegan”. 

The advantage of the system is the sharing of all customer data with the team. However, it can be wise to have several levels of administration allowing you to limit access to customer data to certain members who would not need to have access to the entire database. This is as much for a simplified management for the user as for securing the customer data. Or simply restrict the customer data of an establishment to the latter and not to other establishments in the same hotel group. 

 

Supporting sales and marketing initiatives

The great benefit of a CRM is to be able to perform customer segmentation on the entire client base, whilst also saving them for regular consultation and, if necessary, exporting them in a format that can be used manually or automatically.

The CRM is the perfect tool to script the entire customer journey and offer additional services at the right moment during the customer’s stay, and to adapt them according to the customer’s preferred channel. The idea is to approach the customer exactly when they need it, and not bother them with unnecessary requests or irrelevant solicitations.

The aim is also to increase customer loyalty and increase the value of loyal customers. For example, by sending a promotional code to your customers who stayed at least 3 times in your hotel during the year and who had a satisfaction score of 4 to 5 out of 5.

 

A GOOD CRM IN A NUTSHELL

‣  It enhances your customer knowledge and allows you to customise the customer experience without limitations

‣  Data is centralised on a single interface for easy access

‣  You sell more additional services and increase customer value

‣  You keep an eye on your customers’ satisfaction

‣  Your customers feel they are closer to your hotel.

‣  You know who your regular customers are

And to make sure you choose the right solution, follow our checklist for choosing your hotel software ↗️.

 

THE QUESTIONS YOU’RE PROBABLY ASKING YOURSELF

Are all CRMs the same?

Many solutions claim to be a CRM but not all are of equal value. Some only send e-mails or manage business proposals. In addition, the majority are generic solutions (not adapted to the requirements of the hotel industry) which are not suitable for managing a hotel and even less for managing multiple properties with sometimes several PMSs to connect.

 

Why a CRM when I have the Cardex module of my PMS?

Simply put, a PMS is not a CRM. The PMS is specialized in room planning and billing management, so the customer data it contains is mainly used for billing purposes. As a result, there is a lot of duplication because the customer data is linked to a reservation and not to a single customer. 

In addition, there is a lot of customer data outside the PMS that is not accessible from this interface (history of e-mail/SMS/chat conversations, metadata, multiple phone numbers and e-mail addresses, history of booked services, interests, public data, …). 

As for the search functionalities in the client database, they are mostly extremely limited or even non-existent. 

 

What about the GDPR in all this?

Consolidating customer data allows you to ensure the traceability and security of customer data and thus, to be in compliance with the GDPR. 

Obsolete and non-updated data must be deleted and your customers’ opt-in/opt-out must be properly managed. 

Moreover, faced with a customer who asks you to delete the data you have on them, without a CRM consolidating the data in one place you may have to spend several hours looking in each software program to find the data concerning them and make sure that it is not reused by any other tool. 

 

How does one avoid bothering guests too much?

The value of a CRM lies precisely in this objective: not annoying the customer. Thanks to the access to customer information (most of it already present in your tools) you can adapt your messages and not address all your customers in the same way with the same frequency.

 

Examples of typical customer grievances due to excessive requests by hotels :

Providing information already given to the hotel (contact details, bank details, …)

‣ Having to fill out an extremely long form without benefit

‣ Receiving services and offers that do not interest them at all (family offer, non-vegetarian restaurant, …)

‣ Not receiving services and offers that interest them (tourist recommendations, hotel services, …)

‣ Having to look for basic information on their own (timetable, rates, services, facilities, …)

‣ Wanting to book a service but having several intermediary steps to get there

‣ Being inundated with “just for you” discounts following a stay, without any interesting discount

‣ Being uncertain about the price of offered services (hidden prices)

 

In conclusion, customer relationship management is an important topic for the hotelier who wants to improve customer satisfaction and offer a personalised customer experience. You already have most of the customer data in your software, but it is difficult to put it to good use manually. That’s why it’s important to use a technological tool to automate this time-consuming task. The trick is to choose the right tool that fits your specific hotel requirements and doesn’t use customer data at your expense – all at an affordable price. 

 

Further Reading:

❯ HospitalityNet : Hotel CRM Reality Check