Using CRM to reopen and engage with every guest
Communicating has never been so important. It has become the cornerstone of our lives as we watch, listen, learn, share, and collaborate. Across the industry, this engagement is enabling us to adapt like never before and ensure that hospitality and travel will come out of this stronger than ever.
NB: This is an article from Cendyn
As we rally to build out frameworks for our ‘new normal,’ we must prioritize this level of engagement. Platforms like customer relationship management (CRM) and business intelligence (BI) tools are the most powerful ways to ensure that this is done in the right way.
Simple CRM capabilities can expand your reach and enable you to tailor your response to each guest down to the letter. By using data capture, automation, segmentation, dynamic content, triggers, campaign journeys, and interest tracking, hotels can target their audience with extreme precision and have confidence that the right message is getting to the right person.
Here are just a few ways that you can leverage CRM to ensure you are opening up the dialogue between you and your guests and giving them the confidence they need to travel again:
As plans for re-opening begin, it’s important to strategize about what segments will be the first to be able to travel. Will it be for leisure, business, or both? Will it be hyper-local, or do you anticipate travelers from further afield? Either way, map this out in a staged approach with your defined audiences under each phase. This will allow you to determine whom you should communicate with, in each phase.
Reliable segments from the past may have changed drastically since the global pandemic, so strategizing with the right tools means you can get the message out effectively.
Be prepared for some phases to last longer than others. This planning will directly impact your revenue forecasting as well, so stay aligned with your revenue team to ensure a collaborative approach. Below is an example of how you can build out these audiences across the different phases.
Once your segmentation plan has is complete, you are ready to start marketing to your different lists. Hopefully, you’ve been in contact with your database since the outbreak, if not, now is the time to break the silence.
People need confidence before they travel again, so share what you can with them about changes you’ve made to ensure their safety. Safety will be a huge deciding factor for those thinking about booking, so keep your communication efforts on this top of mind.
If you are re-targeting those who have recently canceled their bookings – email marketing is a great way to inspire them to re-book. As before, think about the different scenarios and the right approach for each segment.
Success! Bookings have slowly started to come in again. This is great news, but how do you continue to instill confidence with your upcoming guests about their stay. Things will most likely be quite different when they get there, so now is the time to let them know.
Pre-arrival emails can be the best way to excite guests about their upcoming trip. It’s a great channel to communicate about dining options, activities, local tips etc., but they can also be used to communicate about important changes:
- New restaurant opening times
- Restaurant seating arrangements and changes to access
- Check-in process changes
- Airport shuttle restrictions/adaptations
- Room cleaning schedules
The more transparent you can be about these changes, the better the overall experience will be for each guest. Remember, the guest experience is about the whole customer journey, and now, more than ever as an industry, we need to keep guest anxieties to a minimum.
To ensure you are maintaining the right level of personalization, use segmentation and dynamic content to tailor your messages for specific guests.
To help you prepare for new guests, you may need to gather important information from them, such as their arrival, whom they are traveling with, allergies, and transportation needs. What better way to field questions before arrival than with a survey? Pre-arrival surveys allow you to open up the dialogue with your guests to ensure they feel comfortable before arriving. Channeling queries and storing the data within your CRM will streamline your re-opening and the guest experience. Some example questions might be:
- What time do you plan to arrive at the hotel?
- What mode of transportation will be taking to get here?
- Do you require assistance with transport from or to the airport?
- Do you or anyone in your party need support from our staff during your stay?
Guest profiles are the cornerstone of CRM. The wealth of data that is stored and actionable within a guest profile enables hoteliers to improve the guest experience from the moment they make a booking.
From segments to interests, and preferences, having this data in one central place allows you to leverage what you need for marketing, revenue, and operations purposes. Use your guest profiles to build out your plan for re-opening. As well as market data, target those who are more likely to travel based on location and previous spend.
The human side of hospitality will always be what makes people travel, and that will never change. We are, however, faced with the need to reduce contact and keep a safe distance. This might feel like it will impact the guest experience, and it will, to some extent, but leveraging technology and automation will ensure the effect is minimal.
For example, while guests are onsite, automated emails can be used to communicate about:
- Changes to dining reservations
- Updated pool opening hours
- Revised cleaning schedule
Automation and other technology enabling contactless transactions will also have a hugely positive impact. Keep this in mind while you plan and budget.
Tracking and reporting
Last but not least is your tracking and reporting. If you aren’t able to report out on the success of your strategy, it may as well have never happened! While you ramp up, it’s imperative that you can track your progress and successes. Robust business intelligence allows you to prepare, strategize, build, and restructure for a strong recovery.