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Evolution of the Hotel CRM

Like the dinosaurs, hotel CRM platforms will become obsolete if they stay in their present form

The success of any hotel hinges on its ability to curate memorable guest experiences and lasting customer satisfaction. Of course, this mission rests heavily on a hotelier's shoulders when we consider the many competing demands associated with running a hotel. Maximizing revenue streams, empowering staff and training new employees, monitoring guest feedback, streamlining operations — these are just a few of the considerations on a hotelier's mind at any given time. So how do hoteliers ensure customer satisfaction is always top of mind in today's highly competitive hospitality industry? And in an increasingly connected world, how do hoteliers cut through the noise to effectively develop relationships with their existing and prospective guests? The answer lies in CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software. CRM platforms integrate into a hotel's operational structure to build a comprehensive database of guest information, playing a critical role in the cultivation of loyal, satisfied customer bases.

But, like the dinosaurs, hotel CRM platforms will become obsolete if they stay in their present form.

Customer satisfaction has always played an integral role in the success of any business — but none more than those within service-based industries (such as hotel, tourism, food, and beverage, etc.). In these industries, it's never just about the product or service; much of the consumer's impression of that brand or business will be derived from experience and relationships. With this understanding, the demand for CRM software quickly became paramount. The term "customer relationship management" was coined in 1995, paving the way for the creation of the first CRM software programs (which were mostly just filing cards with customer details). By 1997, CRM had already moved away from customer solutions to enterprise resource planning (product planning, manufacturing, marketing and payment functions). Then in 1999, Siebel launched the first mobile CRM (with PeopleSoft, SAP, and Oracle quick to follow suit), with the eventual advent of cloud CRM.

However, in a digital era of increasing competition, hotels need a more holistic view of the guest journey. The ecosystem has evolved from single sources of guest history information to secondary data available on multiple channels that can be leveraged for guest scoring, profiling, personalization, revenue management and forecasting. After all, to ignore or leave in proprietary silos the information available through all channels, including social media channels, would mean leaving an integral connection to the modern guest entirely untapped and under-utilized. Further, with the advent of AI, Machine Learning, and Big Data, hotels can now tap into unrealized trends, patterns, and discover guest and operational insights to optimize revenue, productivity and loyalty.

It's also no secret that employees are at the forefront of hospitality, and the drivers of any hotel property's success. Systems, guidelines and amenities aside, it's up to the staff who are constantly interacting with guests to ensure the guest experience meets and exceeds expectations. With the seamless integration of an advanced CRM software that is not only rife with competitive insights but is also visual and user-friendly in nature, ensures that the value of the modern CRM is never lost amongst frequent staff turnover. Instead, hotels can adequately prepare and empower their workforce at every turn, to enhance productivity and, in turn, guest satisfaction.

With innovation, easier implementations, and lower prices, the next-generation of CRM systems is moving from sales, marketing, and service to enabling frictionless, customizable guest experiences, and can facilitate a unique advantage. However, this is only the case if the implementation includes easy integration with other core systems and processes. Modern CRM solutions should have this in mind, creating a flexible, open technology that can interact with a hotelier's data and current systems.

So who is the person behind each reservation? The future of CRM should tell you exactly that… and so much more. Want to learn more about using technology to advance hotel - guest relationships? Let me know.

About the Author:

The capability to understand today’s hotel guest is a priority for Concilio Labs. Terri Miller and her team developed a way to leverage hotel and public data to help hoteliers provide exceptional relevant experiences to its guests. As CEO of Concilio Labs, Terri is responsible for driving the strategic and tactical growth of the company, while ensuring innovation is at the forefront when delivering solutions hoteliers truly need. Her wealth of experience in business, management, and technology guides all facets of the company’s success. Prior to Concilio Labs, Terri was the Vice President of MICROS eCommerce leading the creative, delivery, and technical departments. With a passion for delivering results, Terri continues to grow Concilio Labs with a focus on becoming the leader in developing and delivering smart hotel products and services.