Hotel associates are an integral part of the CRM process| Interview with Michelle Bozoki, Marriott and Renaissance Caribbean and Mexico Resorts
According to specialists, it is important to understand that customer service is only one aspect of e-CRM and is primarily a reactive function aiming to improve performance and efficiency, while e-CRM as a whole is a proactive long term strategy.
Agreeing with the same, Michelle Bozoki, director of marketing communications, Marriott and Renaissance Caribbean and Mexico Resorts, says, "e-CRM is a model which continually builds and improves upon itself. The customer service piece must go hand-in-hand with the communication to ensure pull through of stated preferences and build loyalty and shift market share over time."
"A good CRM model will determine the potential lifetime value of a customer and work towards achieving that through a long-term strategy of communications and loyalty-based programmes," added Michelle, who is scheduled to speak during CRM and Loyalty Strategies for Travel USA 2009 Conference, to be held on 4-5 March in March this year.
Michelle, in an interview with EyeforTravel.com's Ritesh Gupta, also spoke about how should a hotel website focus on segmentation, the frequency of communication and much more.
EyeforTravel.com: In hospitality, different customer segments should easily identify areas on the hotel website that "speak to them". If you do not speak to each of these audiences, you will lose most of them to your competition. Which is the best way to address this segmentation?
Michelle Bozoki: The best way to address this segmentation is to append these profiles to your database using a variety of sources including: direct customer response, surveys, 3rd party national databases, profiling/segmentation, etc.
Once you feel comfortable that you have accurately identified your customers in terms of their key buying motivator, then you can set up marketing prioritisation models and rules based communications which directly address their specified preferences.
There may be several layers to this profile, for example, a meeting planner (level 1) who plans international meetings in Caribbean (2), and is primarily interested in golf destinations and packages (3). The more qualified data you have for each customer, the better able you are to create communications that are tailored to meet their buying preferences.
EyeforTravel.com: There is a definite, measurable increase in revenue from offers that allow a guest to customise their stay – pre-ordering amenities, requesting room upgrades, booking spa appointments before arrival, etc. But do you think the results of personalisation, however, are a bit harder to pin down, and those initiatives can be detrimental if the company does not obtain permission from the guest?
Michelle Bozoki: Yes, obtaining permission from customers is essential or you run the risk of alienating them rather than building loyalty. Some customers may have privacy issues or feel that this approach is intrusive; others will welcome it openly. Any challenges are easily overcome by simply inviting guests to be part of a CRM program and effectively communicating the benefits they will receive.
EyeforTravel.com: Which is the best way to engage your customers through personalisation, customisation and relevance?
Michelle Bozoki: Very simply - be sure to communicate to the right customer, at the right time with the right offer. Once guests have opted-in to a CRM programme then expectations are set. A good CRM program will not only meet, but exceed these expectations. Anticipatory communications will surprise and motivate guests. You want them saying "how did they know I was just thinking about this?"
Communications need to be frequent but not overdone, have creative appeal, and be content relevant. Desired customer action should be simply communicated and involve seamless execution. Proactive tracking, analysis and follow-up communications are necessary to ensure the highest levels of engagement.
EyeforTravel.com: What according to you is the key in developing true one-to-one relationships and customer experiences across a varied customer base?
Michelle Bozoki: Understanding who your customers really are and what truly motivates them to act in the desired fashion – and then making sure that your e-CRM program delivers upon this.
EyeforTravel.com: The biggest impressions made are by customer-facing employees providing great service. Experts feel hiring the right people and training them to care about the guest is really the best way to build relationships. Do you think this is happening in hotels?
Michelle Bozoki: Yes, this is true in some hotels and not in others. It comes from the top down. Marriott puts a great deal of emphasis on this philosophy. Nothing could be truer than Marriott International founder J. Willard Marriott's adage, "If you take care of your associates, they will take care of the customer, and the customer will keep coming back…."
This is our company's most important and enduring principle. The hotel associates are an integral part of the CRM process and it is important that they understand the complete "engine" in which they are involved from the very beginning, through ongoing training and incentives. They are direct ambassadors and have the potential to impact a customer much more significantly than an email communication. The best strategy is to have a thorough combination of both forces that work seamlessly together to have the greatest overall impact on a customer's preference and long term loyalty.
CRM and Loyalty Strategies for Travel USA 2009 Conference
Michelle Bozoki, director of marketing communications, Marriott and Renaissance Caribbean and Mexico Resorts is scheduled to speak during CRM and Loyalty Strategies for Travel USA 2009 Conference, to be held on 4-5 March in March this year.
For more information, click here: http://events.eyefortravel.com/crm/agenda.asp
Phone: +44 207 375 7216