Written by: Antonio Andújar
Currently, CRM in hotels is a key element in addressing the challenges of the industry and the demands of an increasingly digital customer. The follow-up of customers throughout their cycle –traveller’s journey- is increasingly complicated for the marketing and sales departments of hotels. This is due to the millions and millions of megabytes of data generated in a short period of time, as well as to the multiplication and dispersion of the clients’ contact points with the hotel industry. Having full knowledge of this cycle is vital to optimize relationships and enhance customer conversion and loyalty opportunities.
The challenge for hotels is to identify and learn about each customer’s contact with the hotel, during the decision making process before and during the purchase, and during and after the stay. Any interaction through any channel (multi-channel experience), constitutes for the customer an experience. And his satisfaction and loyalty depends on this experience.
For all these reasons, we want to discover the necessary steps that your hotel must follow to successfully implement a CRM project:
First of all, if you are working in sales or marketing within the hotel, you should encourage a change in philosophy. Working with a CRM in your hotel means betting to have a direct relationship with your final customers –the guests.
This isn’t only the integration of a technological tool. It means changing the way of doing your job with the aim of creating a business models focused on your customers, user-centric. Your customers are the most valuable business assets for your hotels, although their value isn’t reflected in the balance sheets. Traditional management focuses on products and services, when not using a CRM, it can mislead its strategies towards the real objective: the guest.
SMART objectives determine the priorities for each team, help the company's results to be measurable, and serve as a guide for the company’s growth. The SMART characteristic was born by the acronym that refers to the 5 basic features that each objective must have in order to be considered an intelligent objective. So that you can see it clearly we list them associating them with an example:
The information and the data of interest, the guest data, in the hotels is very distributed in diverse systems and places that are known as data silos. Before starting with a CRM tool you should evaluate these silos in terms of quantity and quality, always prioritizing the last attribute.
Once the interesting systems and databases are detected, a more technological process is involved, since it’s necessary to study the integration of that information with the CRM system for the hotel, going from having silos to a single warehouse. In this way, since all the data is in one place, you can apply advanced context and segmentation to all your customer records.
The integrations are technical processes so make sure that the system you want to connect is connectable (usually because it has an API or web services for this purpose) and, at the same time, that the CRM to be implanted can be connected to these other sources of information.
A practical example of integration applicable to most hotels would be to propose a connection with the PMS to obtain all the new registrations or update the existing ones in the CRM each time a check-in happens.
The exercise of creating buyer personas’ profiles consists of giving name, ‘real’ features and personality to what was previously a type of guests. Thanks to the buyer personas we can clearly know how to connect with this type of customer for them to convert. It allows us to specify the abstract, allowing the whole team to know at a glance the needs and type of content that must be generated for each type of potential guest.
On the other hand, the buyer’s journey (or traveller’s journey) is the active search process carried out by a potential consumer until it becomes a sale of our product or service.
So knowing your buyer personas and the phases through which these users go through before completing the purchase process (buyer’s journey) is essential in order to prepare the subsequent deployment of your CRM project, because together with the objectives it will be the guide that will mark the relationship strategy with your customers.
In the CRM project for your hotel, you should consider migrating the information to the cloud (i.e. a digital environment), and you will have to review all the information collection and data processing processes at a legal level. Therefore, the first thing that must be taken into account when hiring a CRM service is that it complies with the personal data protection regulations. You will keep one of the most valuable assets of your hotel, your data, without which your daily activity cannot work.
Leaving aside the issues that must be taken into account when selecting the service model and the deployment model there are a series of questions that every company must ask itself and, consequently, be informed about them, prior to hiring, from the point of view of data protection.
In which country / countries will the information be stored?
Will the provider subcontract hosting services with a third party? In that case, in which country / countries are the servers located?
What information is processed in the hotel (basic, medium and / or specially protected data) and which data will be uploaded to the cloud? Does the provider guarantee the security measures that the company needs according to the type of data it deals with?
Do the General Contracting Conditions of the CRM provider comply with the data protection regulations?
It’s time to take action. The first step of any CRM project is to import customer data that has been previously collected. When it comes to hotels, they usually collect and store date in two systems: the PMS and the manager of email marketing campaigns.
For the importation of data, most CRMs have assistants that will facilitate the importing process through a csv. Anyway, it would be even better if you leverage this opportunity to debug or clean the records:
Detect and eliminate duplicated data.
Delete generic emails and inactive users for a long time (more than 3 years is an eternity in the digital world).
If you have several hotels, it is also important that you consolidate all the data in one place.
Now you have integrations that connect data from different systems and you have also made a first importation of historical records, so it's time to start segmenting your customers. Basically there are two ways to segment or at least the CRM you choose should offer the two options: smart lists and static lists.
Smart lists update themselves, adding new contacts that match the requirements of the list and eliminating contacts that no longer meet those requirements. Static lists are like snapshots that don’t update. Therefore, they aren’t automatically updated by adding contacts that meet the requirements originally described at the time the list was created.
In order to carry out an effective lead nurturing process that guarantees an important volume of sales and return on investment, one of the most important factors that you must understand -and that you must constantly update- is a clear vision of the different situations that each of your leads go through. This is where the segmentation is important. You must take your databases and start creating groups that have a certain number of characteristics in common and that, little by little, facilitate all the marketing tactics that you carry out within your hotel.
After the segmentation of your data in the CRM of your hotel and taking into account the defined objectives and the buyer’s journey you can begin to define the automations and customizations that your CRM will execute. That is, the rules that will be responsible for relating to your database in order to improve conversions, reservations, and loyalty.
Use the segments created to send emails, customize website content and enhance marketing automation campaigns, and effectively track your sales opportunities as they go through the funnel.
That’s it! A CRM tool should allow you to design automations (workflows) that go beyond the automation of email to help you boost your growth and spend less time on repetitive tasks. Use workflows to configure webhooks, qualify sales opportunities, easily manage your bulk data by updating properties or schedule the sending of internal notifications for your team when a contact performs a remarkable action.
Also, a utility that includes the latest CRM that you must value is the smart content. Thanks to this functionality, you can customize the content on your website, landing pages, calls to action (CTA) and emails to provide a truly relevant marketing experience. Personalization is no longer something that is out of reach, but is now available.
Ultimately, based on the objectives that you marked with the CRM, you must be able to monitor the entire life cycle of your customer, from being an anonymous visitor until he becomes a customer. Analytics should allow you to discover key trends in your data over time or add event tracking to links, buttons and purchases to understand visitor behaviour.
Also, don’t forget to measure the closing of the cycle of your marketing efforts with income and attribution reports so that you can duplicate the activities and actions that contribute to your final result.
See much beyond the basic data, such as names or jobs. All interactions should be stored in the CRM in an orderly manner to include, for example: calls, emails, notes, visits, content consumed, etc.
Although it may seem like an arduous task, don’t forget to follow these nine steps to ensure a successful implementation of your hotel CRM. If during the process you have any questions, you can always ask us! If you prefer that we speak now, you can ask for your free and non-binding consultation.