Industry Update
Opinion Article 5 September 2018

Aggregating your hotel data with CRM

By Nicki Graham, Director of Marketing, EMEA & APAC at Cendyn

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It wasn't long ago that all the information hotels had on a guest could fit on a single registration card. In the late 1980s, the introduction of the property management system marked the beginning of the digitization of data.

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Since then, the number of platforms used by hotels to engage guests, streamline operations and drive revenue has proliferated. Today, a hotel may use a dozen or more applications, from revenue management systems to guest survey solutions to marketing automation software.

"Guests leave a tremendous amount of data in their wake at the various touchpoints during their stay—website, call center, PMS, mobile app, POS, activities, survey, loyalty program, just to name a few," said Sullivan of Cendyn. "The challenge is that each of these systems captures a sliver of information about the guest, and it's housed in disparate data silos." When you consider the entire lifecycle of a guest, which may encompass multiple stays at properties and brands within a hotel group, the amount of data increases exponentially.

The challenges arise out of the evolution of technology in hotels. New tools have been developed piecemeal over the years, some as standalone applications, others as add-ons. Because many of the systems do not communicate with one another, a hotel company may have multiple profiles of the same guest scattered across its properties and databases.

THE IMPACT OF MULTIPLE SOURCES ON STAFF MEMBERS

In today's competitive marketplace hotels need to know their guests and earn their loyalty. Customer relationship management utilizes a combination of technology and human hospitality to create rich profiles of guests and cater to their individual needs and preferences. By mining these profiles, staff can make informed decisions about the services, amenities and marketing campaigns they need to gain an edge over competitors.

For CRM to be effective, staff must work closely together in the pursuit of mutually aligned objectives—namely, guest satisfaction, engagement, loyalty, advocacy, and profitability. Hotels must invest in technology that facilitates the collection, sharing, analysis, and use of guest data.

Under the current fragmented state of technology, hotel staff are impeded from achieving these objectives. Without a complete picture of the guest, the front desk doesn't know if a guest is a first-timer or a frequent customer of the brand. Marketers are unable to segment guests based on behavior and interests and must resort to sending generic offers. With limited access to data, department heads are prone to setting unrealistic and unachievable forecasts and budgets.

To overcome the challenges, staff find workarounds. Front desk staff jump from one database to another to extract and input guest profile data. Revenue managers manually reconcile data from multiple sources on Excel spreadsheets. And marketers pool data from diverse silos in an attempt to segment guests and send targeted offers.

In the process, guests experience delays, lapses in service and frustration. Loyalty and preferences go unrecognized, and guests don't come back. Guests receive irrelevant email offers and opt out of the database. Rather than empower staff to achieve objectives, technology leads to inefficiencies, errors and lost business.

AGGREGATING THE DATA

Hoteliers understand that the current situation is untenable, but what's the solution? A first step is to integrate data across silos, but the process is not as simple as it sounds. "Data integration can be challenging if systems don't talk to each other very well," said Abdullatif Awadh, Senior Director of Customer Relationship Management at Dubai-based Jumeirah Group. "This leads to sources not being accurate, and you lose confidence in the information."

Prior to integration, brands need to standardize how data is input and establish common formatting, rate codes, market codes, and other data fields. After integration, data must be cleansed and deduped, and subsequent data-sharing must be frequent, if not in real-time. Only then can staff confidently use the data to guide decisions.

"To minimize these challenges, hotels need robust and solid integrations built specifically for their systems. We need to ensure we have the right data to communicate with our guests, whether confirming a reservation or managing the entire lifecycle of a customer. Our CRM and other systems need to be in sync."
-- Abdullatif Awadh, Senior Director of Customer Relationship Management, Jumeirah Group

THE POWER OF A SINGLE PROFILE

By integrating systems, hotels can take advantage of the many tools available to collect data and engage guests while at the same time working from a shared database. "The end goal is a single version of truth," said Sullivan of Cendyn. "A centralized, integrated database that provides a complete picture of your guests. That's when you can start doing exciting things with that data."

With a single view of the customer, hotel staff can ensure that engagement is meaningful and relevant at every touchpoint during the guest journey. Profile information may include the guest's photo, stay history, total spend, interests, preferred room types, links to social profiles, loyalty program status and feedback from previous stays.

The benefits of an integrated database are far-reaching. Staff members do not need to perform multisource data lookups or find workarounds. Marketers have at their fingertips all the information they require to send the right message to the right guests, through the right channels, at the right time. Managers can access the data they need to create accurate budgets, forecasts, and reporting.

For hotel companies with multiple brands, the benefits extend to the entire portfolio. "Food & beverage can mail prearrival information about activities on property that may be of interest to the guest," said Chetan Patel, Vice President, Strategic Marketing & Ecommerce at Bangkok-based Onyx Hospitality Group. "Operations benefits from feedback in guest surveys, which becomes part of the guest profile so other properties can prevent any issues from happening again. And ecommerce and marketing can use guest profile data to communicate targeted offers, cross-sell, upsell and encourage repeat stays."

"Because brands and hotels within a hotel group can vary, not all information regarding the guest is relevant. For example, the data needs of a select-service property are more limited than those of a luxury resort. The ultimate goal is to have a single guest profile that allows for micro-segmentation by brand."
-- Marcos Cadena, VP of Digital, eCommerce and Distribution, Minor Hotels

Want to learn more about consolidating your data into one central CRM platform? Our whitepaper The CRM Data Warehouse takes an in-depth look at the future of data management for hotels.

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Nicki Graham

Nicki Graham is the Director of Marketing, EMEA & APAC at Cendyn. She currently leads on all marketing and communication efforts for Cendyn within these growing regions, heads up our marketing strategy for all our global partners, leads on all product marketing efforts and is our brand ambassador.

    More from Nicki Graham

    About Cendyn

    Cendyn is the leading innovative cloud software and services provider for the hospitality industry. With a focus on integrated hotel CRM, hotel sales, and revenue strategy technology platforms, Cendyn drives sales, marketing and revenue performance for tens of thousands of hotels across the globe. The Cendyn Hospitality Cloud offers a complete set of software services for the industry, aligning marketing, sales and revenue teams to optimize their strategies and drive performance and loyalty across their business units. With offices in Boca Raton, Atlanta, Boston, San Diego, London, Munich, Singapore, Sydney, Bangkok and Tokyo, Cendyn proudly serves clients in 143 countries, delivering over 1.5 billion data-driven, personalized communications on behalf of their customers every year. For more information on Cendyn, visit www.cendyn.com.

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    Nicola Graham
    Director of Marketing, International
    Phone: +442080683195
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