This guest post comes to us courtesy of Nexon Hospitality!
Within the last few years, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has become a buzzword in the hospitality sector. But what is it? And how can businesses utilise the full benefits of CRM in 2018?
CRM in hospitality
The hospitality industry is encountering a lot of competition, both globally and locally. As competition has intensified, customers are faced with many choices, a state of affairs which has pushed hotels to find ways to differentiate themselves from competitors. They can do this through CRM.
CRM gives hotels the ability to acquire deep knowledge of customers’ needs and preferences. This had enabled organisations to understand and tailor how their services need to be delivered to exceed customers’ expectations. This customer-centric approach is significant in the hotel industry as it attempts to retain customers and build a long partnership with them.
Hotels must focus on developing CRM strategies that aim to seek, gather, store and share guest information throughout the organisation to create personalised and unique guests experiences. So what are the key things hotels need to know about CRM in 2018?
Using social media as a component of CRM
Social media has impacted the hospitality industry in a huge way. Consumers are using these channels throughout their decision journey.
In the UK, smartphone penetration has risen to 85% of the adult population, while the total number of social media users in the UK has reached over 39 million users, with estimates of up to 42 million users. If you haven’t already invested time into social media and mobile, now is the time.
Use of CRM in social media includes answering questions and offering support and advice on the platform. Your engagement may be about a booking enquiry or handling a complaint. A great example is Sol Wave House in Mallorca, guests can use Twitter to do just about anything! They can check into their room utilising the designated app on the hotel’s Twitter page, or they can order a meal to their room by using a hashtag.
Source: Site Reminder
Hashtags are one of the best ways for brands to discover conversations, mentions, and even users. This is just one way that social media can lead to customer engagement. With this information, you automatically get valuable context around your brand’s relationship, customers, leads, and prospects.
The Four Season Hotels are great at capturing customer information via social media and engaging with every conversation. They have a strong social media presence. 78% of their clients are using social networking sites to connect with the company and make their reservations.
Social media has improved CRM by creating an environment that makes it easier for customers to interact with previously neglected or unknown hotels.
Hotels handle guest information at a large scale, managing names, addresses, dates of birth, and credit card details. For this reason, the hotel industry is considered one of the most vulnerable to data threats. Combine this factor with the GDPR regulations coming into effect in May 2018, and it is clear how hotels that are working with CRM solution providers must ensure that they are in compliance with the new regulations
How will this impact CRM?
GDPR will affect how you handle, collect, and process data from your customers. Currently, hotels often enrol customers in their various newsletter and email campaigns. Generalised consent requests can be used to sign people up to any number of subscriber lists, resulting in numerous ways that a hotel group can reach potential guests.
However, this is all changing. Hotels must now explain to customers all of the following:
- What data you are capturing (the nature of the data).
- Why you are capturing that data (the purpose of the data).
- Who is requesting that data (the identity of the data controller).
- Who else will have access to this data.
Only once you explain all of this can the customer give you unambiguous consent.
The GDPR is also cracking down on unsolicited email marketing. Currently, one popular way to capture data is to source an email address once and then reuse it across campaigns. However, with the new GDPR laws coming into place, this is no longer the case. If you have captured the email for a newsletter, then you have to ask for explicit consent again for the email campaign.
Managing customer relationships is one of the most critical elements of gaining and increasing loyalty. Employees cannot be overlooked when implementing CRM since the success of CRM implementation relies on the active involvement of the employees in the organisation itself. Frontline employees, for example, interact with customers on a daily basis and have a profound impact on the experience of customers.
You need to train employees to understand the value of CRM, and they need to know the specific benefits. Tell them about how much time CRM will save, how the system will improve customer interactions, and what personal benefits they can expect. Employees are more likely to respond if they see both corporate and personal benefits.
This year the role of CRM is becoming more apparent as guests become savvier and demand more from their experiences. Organisations need to stay ahead of the curve and use data to improve communication, learn more about guests’ interactions, and maintain brand presence in the mind of customers.