Author: Mark Bedard
In times of decreased demand, the ability to segment, personalize and deliver outstanding customer service is even more critical. The proof is in the numbers. Personalizing guest interactions via Customer Relationship Management (CRM & ERP) solutions is shown to improve overall conversion rates by 50% through marketing automation (eMarketer), increase email conversion rates 3X (Campaign Monitor), and improve email click rates by 41% (Experian). These eye-opening numbers alone should provide perspective on the value of a CRM & ERP solution. And in times of crisis, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, a CRM & ERP’s ability to help you intelligently engage guests makes it a near necessity.
Notice we say “intelligently” engage guests. That’s an important distinction. Currently every brand or company you’ve ever done business with is bombarding you with messages that are in some way related to the crisis ̶ whether those communications have any real value to you or your guests at all. In engaging your potential or planned guests, it’s important to analyze every communication to make sure you don’t appear “tone-deaf” in the face of current events. Thoughtful, empathetic, and personalized communications regarding your property, the impact of the crisis, and the corresponding actions you’re implementing are paramount. Combined with targeted campaigns and offers to provide value to any demand that does exist (particularly in the local market), intelligent guest engagement can be accomplished without alienating your customer base.
Here are 3 specific ways your CRM & ERP can help you navigate a crisis by personalizing communications and demand engagement.
1. Update Guests on Safety & Security Information
Effective communications with guests (for upcoming or recent bookings, not someone who stayed on property once 3 years ago) are a vital component of overall customer satisfaction strategy and becomes exponentially more so in times of crisis. Guests want to know about any potential impact on their travel plans, the measures a property is taking to mitigate any potential safety or security concerns, and the latest news or developments that may impact their desire or ability to stay on property. Leverage your email center capabilities to minimize concerns by communicating important information and updates to guests in a timely fashion.
- Proactively send guests changes to your cancellation policy to remain flexible and allow guests to move their stays to a more desirable time.
- Distribute updates on potential stay implications impacted by the crisis, such as F&B availability, local or national travel restrictions, or health advisories.
- Create pre-stay welcome emails that highlight the specific precautions and safeguards your property is employing in regard to guest safety (deep cleaning efforts, intervals between room occupancy, additional staff training on cleanliness, etc.)
2. Make the Most of Any Existing Demand
While global travel and hotel occupancy are at an all-time low in the face of the current pandemic, there still may exist some demand in certain geographic markets. Your CRM & ERP can help you target any existing demand and support direct bookings through targeted engagement of guests in the local market.
- If your market is still open focus on local demand versus fly-in market, since there may be travel restrictions or influences that could reduce demand from broader geographical regions. Run special promotions to make bookings more attractive for the local market:
- Geo-Targeted Promotions focused on localized targets to drive any real-time demand in the local market towards Brand.com.
- Mobile-exclusive last-minute deals to target localized search.
- Personalize guest engagement utilizing CRM & ERP data for greatest impact. Assess the makeup of your typical target audience (transient, business, Baby Boomer, Millennial, etc.), seasonality of your bookings, and other dynamics and create specific target lists.
- Leverage your automated CRM & ERP tools to make the most of lower funnel demand from guests who are shopping through targeted engagement (and re-engagement):
- Create room or service upsell offers to boost incremental revenue and guest satisfaction from guests who are shopping.
- Offer value-added bundles that entices shoppers with complimentary additions (early check-in, free breakfast, spa credit, etc.) to your Best Available Rate (BAR).
- Setup abandonment remarketing emails to target potential guests who are currently shopping but have abandoned the booking process and drive them towards booking completion at a more convenient time.
3. Plan for the Market Rebound
Those properties and brands that are best positioned to take advantage of emerging demand as the market recovers will be the earliest to begin reclaiming revenue. Hoteliers that are opportunistic today and continue high-value work while there is free time will be more well-equipped to capture business once the crisis subsides.
Audit Your Guest Communications Strategy
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- Review your guest segmentation practices and explore new processes to enable more focused marketing to specific groups (business travelers, loyalty members, etc.) that are more likely to be earlier travelers as the market recovers.
- Determine your most valuable guests via Recency, Frequency, Monetary (RFM) score and put a plan in place to recognize them via an email promotion or personalized thank you.
- Review past emails and campaigns that have historically performed well and create a strategy that leverages any previously high-performing activities or messages to help boost bookings when demand returns.
Augment and Improve Your Guest Communications Strategy
- Build out workflows to operationalize/future proof a large portion of your guest communication strategy and do more with less resources in the face of reduced staffing levels.
- Create personalized emails specific to individual guest details (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) to engage and reward guests with personalized offers.
- Send re-engagement campaigns to guests who haven’t interacted with the brand in a while and invite them to return.
- Setup OTA winback campaigns to pivot bookings from partners to Brand.com.
- Develop post-stay satisfaction surveys to gain valuable feedback from guests for ongoing service delivery improvement.
- Invest the time to learn more about your technology solutions, including reaching out to your TravelClick Account Manager to learn about any capabilities you’re not taking advantage of at present.
More than 80% of hoteliers see their CRM & ERP investments increasing over the next 3 years (h2c). It’s becoming increasingly clear that these solutions deliver outsized value in improving the guest experience, driving direct bookings, and building sustainable loyalty. But in times of crisis, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, it is the CRM & ERP solution’s ability to intelligently engage guests and personalize interactions that is its most crucial benefit.