Thursday, October 18, 2018

A hotel marketer’s guide to CRM

Typically, the marketing department plays the lead role in CRM, acting as the primary user and key operator of CRM software and managing guest communications and data.

As the guardian of the hotel’s brand, the marketing manager ensures that all guest communications are on brand and on message. Additionally, as a primary generator of demand, they use the CRM system to find opportunities to drive revenue and increase profits.

The marketing manager also acts as data scientist, extracting data and running reports to keep colleagues informed of trendsand patterns in guest behavior and preferences.

Key areas of responsibility for the hotel marketer

CRM administration: Oversees the implementation of CRM software, staff training, testing and maintenance, and acts as key operator and liaison to the CRM provider.

Planning: Works with the CRM team to set objectives, strategies and KPIs for the coming year and align them with marketing activities. Creates an annual calendar of marketing campaigns to keep the hotel top of mind, boost occupancy during periods of low demand, and drive higher ADR during periods of high demand.

CRM evangelist: Ensures that all staff understand the value of CRM to the hotel, use the software to its fullest capabilities, and input data correctly. Branding. Ensures that all guest communications are consistent with the hotel’s branding, including messaging, tone and visual appearance.

Messaging: Works with the CRM team to create templates and customised emails, including confirmations, pre-stay emails, promotional offers and newsletters.

Segmentation: Creates targeted subscriber lists based on variables such as location, interests, nature of travel, rate code, booking source, time of stay, stay frequency and total spend.

Marketing campaigns: Works with the revenue manager to identify revenue opportunities and sends customized offers to subscriber lists to achieve objectives.

Template updates: Updates email templates promptly to reflect changes to staffing, cancellation policy, check-in procedures and other details.

Loyalty programs: Oversees guest loyalty initiatives, including program membership, guest recognition, and tracking of stay frequency and total spend.

Guest feedback: Works with the CRM team to create guest satisfaction surveys and response templates and analyse results.

Internal communications: Ensures that front desk, reservations and sales staff are aware of marketing campaigns and can respond knowledgeably to guest inquiries.

Performance measurement: Monitors performance related to guest communications, marketing campaigns and revenue generation.

Reporting: Keeps staff informed of trends, opportunities and insights and recommends actions. Prepares and distributes monthly CRM reports summarising the results of guest engagement activities and marketing campaigns.

Compliance: Keeps up to date on laws and regulations regarding email marketing, privacy and data protection, ensuring compliance.

CRM top tips and best practices for the hotel marketer

Test, test, test: Before sending messages to guests, test them internally to ensure that they display correctly on all devices—desktop, tablet and smartphone. A great CRM solution has automated display and deliverability testing built in. Take advantage of it!

Humanize communications: Show there’s a person behind the brand by addressing guests by name and personalising messages from the general manager, concierge team or other hotel representative.

Upsell and cross-sell: Drive incremental revenue by inviting incoming guests to upgrade their room and pre-order amenities and services such as wine, flowers, meals, spa treatments, activities and recreation.

Slice and dice: With CRM software, there’s no excuse for “spray and pray” or “set it and forget it” marketing. Create targeted subscriber lists and send customized offers. The more timely and relevant the message, the higher the conversion rate.

Write compelling copy: The email subject line, heading and body text should answer the question on everyone’s mind: “What’s in it for me?” Keep messaging short, speak to emotions like desire, nostalgia and FOMO, and include a prominent call to action.

Experiment: Try creating variations of the same message, altering subject lines, leads, offers, calls to action and even imagery and colors to see which elements generate the best results.

Make loyalty a priority: It’s far more cost-effective to entice guests back than to find new guests. Loyalty programs are highly effective for driving repeat business, data collection and behavior tracking. Whether or not you have a formal program, track stay frequency and total spend to identify your most valuable guests.

Reach out to OTA bookers: Many OTAs withhold email addresses, but there’s a workaround. Send a message to the proxy email address assigned by the OTA, inviting the guest to pre-check in or provide their arrival time. When the guest replies, update the email address in the profile, and let the relationship-building begin!

Spread the love: Use cost savings from direct bookings to reward guests for direct bookings and to incentivize OTA guests to book directly on their next stay. Build contact lists. Display an email subscribe form prominently on your website, and include invitations in guest emails to follow your hotel on social media and join your loyalty program.

Mine guest feedback: Look for comments in guest surveys and reviews to use in sales and marketing messaging to highlight strengths and competitive advantages.

Give a gentle nudge: Program the CRM to send a second email with a more enticing offer if recipients don’t open or click on a promotional message. If you see a spike in unsubscribe rates, reevaluate the frequency and quality of communications.

Be a data geek: Obsess over subscription rates, email open rates, click-throughs and conversions. They are true measures of a marketer’s success.

Be safe, not sorry: Violators of laws regarding commercial email, privacy and data protection can face stiff penalties. For a list of spam laws by country, check out our infographic. As a best practice, follow the regulations of the strictest countries—Germany and Canada. If your hotel does business in the European Union, you should be familiar with the General Data Protection Regulation, which comes into effect on May 25, 2018.

About Nicki Graham

Nicki Graham
Nicki is the Director of Marketing, International at Cendyn.

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