The hospitality industry has become the great personalization race. With so many on-demand consumer and e-commerce platforms, today’s travellers are used to interacting with their favourite brands and services at the touch of a button and at their convenience. They expect no less while traveling, seeking more unique, tailored, and tech-driven experiences on the go.
As hoteliers look to satisfy heightened guest expectations and differentiate themselves in a crowded market, they are increasingly looking for new avenues to better understand travellers and what matters to them. But an effective personalization strategy goes far beyond just gathering data. To realize value, you need to be able to act on the information.
Today’s savvy hoteliers know technology is the best option to manage guest data in ways that will deepen the consumer-brand relationship and personalize every phase of the traveller journey – from inspiration and shopping, to the onsite experience, to post-departure. With so many technology options available, how can hoteliers identify the right fit for their business?
Hotelier’s leading technology systems
Amadeus and other leading technology providers partnered with h2c research company to learn how hoteliers are using technology today to enhance the guest experience. Perhaps not surprisingly, when looking at the current state of their business, most survey respondents identified their PMS as the leading solution for managing guest profiles. What is interesting is that when looking three years into the future, hoteliers anticipate a shift in technology use – a significant decrease in the focus on PMS and an increase in focus on both CRM and the introduction of new technology systems.
While the PMS has historically been considered the heart of hotel operations and will continue to be a key system, this shift suggests it hasn’t proven ideal for guest management. As the desire for personalization increases, the CRM and new guest management solutions are emerging as an essential technology tool, comparable in value to the PMS.
The trend is further substantiated by hoteliers polled in h2c’s research. 82% of respondents say they plan to increase their CRM and guest experience budget over the next three years, while only 2% plan to decrease it.
Why the focus on CRM?
One could infer from this shift in priorities that the enhancement of CRM guest management capabilities has outpaced the development of PMS capabilities leading hoteliers to reprioritize their investments. Today’s savvy hoteliers recognize that an effective CRM has progressed from the initial “digital rolodex” type of solution that merely collects guest data to a more sophisticated offering that allows for comprehensive reporting and execution of sales and marketing initiatives such as targeted email marketing and loyalty programs.
In the research, respondents identified that today’s CRM is “the heart of everything,” a statement reflective of the availability these expanded capabilities. Hoteliers have acknowledged the need for a solution that powers their strategies with clean and accessible guest data, enabling them to identify and attract new guests to their hotel and create loyal fans.
CRM goals: now and in the future
What exactly does CRM mean to hoteliers? When asked, they commented:
- “CRM means building positive customer experiences to enhance profit.”
Additionally, 76% of h2c study respondents ranked, “Analyze my guests and their needs,” as their #1 CRM goal, followed by communicating with guests, and creating value and experiences to strengthen relationships.
When we asked hoteliers how they’re communicating today, the majority use guest data to send individual and group email marketing campaigns along with welcome communications. However, most of these messages are sent to a targeted, not personalized, audience. Only VIP guests regularly receive personalized welcome emails which means increasing loyalty and revenue from new or lesser known guests remains a challenge.
So why is there such a disconnect between expectations and reality? Guests clearly want personalization and hoteliers recognize the value, but a struggle to deliver remains. The tools of yesterday aren’t keeping pace with the needs of today’s hoteliers and achieving their goals for personalization, creating positive customer experiences and enhancing profit margins.
Identifying the right tools & strategy for success
To overcome challenges, hospitality organizations must transform their approach to managing guest personalization. Hoteliers worldwide agree that having a CRM with robust functional capabilities and extensive integrations to other business solutions enables the consolidation of quality, actionable guest data and is the key to providing a positive experience that enhances profit.
An effective CRM or Guest Management Solution (GMS) is much more than a simple database. It’s the key to acquiring new guests and engaging with them in a personalized manner to establish loyalty. The insight collected is priceless for hoteliers as they develop long-term revenue and marketing strategies to win more bookings and convert guests into loyal fans.
When asked their perception of available solutions, respondents in the h2c study highlighted the GMS solution offered by TravelClick, an Amadeus company, as the most innovative solution on the market.
Across all aspects of the guest journey, hoteliers are moving away from legacy technology and out-of-date models to embrace a tech-savvy and guest-centric approach. Using Guest Management Software to transform guest interactions in a highly personal and relevant way will help hoteliers cut through the noise and make an impact. This means moving beyond using CRM just for email marketing campaigns and instead harnessing the technology for its potential for personalized experiences, recommendations, and upselling opportunities.
Curtis Brewer, Senior Vice President/General Manager, Reservations, Guest Management and Web Solutions, Hospitality, Amadeus.
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