“Where everybody knows you name” – the theme song from the 90’s hit show Cheers defines the importance of personalization. Personalization creates comfort, and at its core, the hospitality business is a comfort business.
At it’s core, Salesforce.com is an incredibly powerful database tool that can support customer relationships through building customer profiles based on activity and preferences. When properly implemented and maintained, it has the potential to be the foundation of maximized profitability through customer loyalty, retention and improved customer service.
But what if it isn’t properly implemented and maintained? What are the unseen hurdles of adoption and where does the magic of Salesforce.com end for hospitality professionals?
Maintenance, Maintenance, Maintenance
All productive business objectives are driven by strong procedures, but additional implementation policies to maintain new technology are often met with resistance, especially when the value isn’t immediate.
If Salesforce.com isn’t integrated with your other software systems—most importantly your Property Management System (PMS) & Central Reservation System (CRS)—then its success relies solely on Directors of Sales (DOS’s) and location sales teams to constantly update the status, activity and preferences of their customers.
In an industry with a broad range of customer demographics and a huge amount of customer turn over, manually keeping track of customers, corporations and prospects requires an incredible amount of maintenance.
Customer “Relationship” Management
The hospitality business is about establishing and maintaining relationships. Directors of Sales and their local sales teams need to solidify themselves as the go to resource in a region. Earning that “go to” relationship takes more than collecting and reporting on customers activities.
The superhero of General Managers would have the ability to sense panic in the hearts of Meeting Managers, Wedding Planners and HR Representatives across their region. Every time someone cried, “[Curses]! I need a hotel” or “[Swear word], I need a conference room” superGM would show up on the spot offering them the exact amenities and services they needed.
Assuming Salesforce.com has been implemented properly, that it integrates with all the existing hotel management software, and the hotel’s sales reps maintain the customer activity like pros, those sales reps are still only half way to super hero status with customers.
Knowing of a customer and their preferences doesn’t immediately create that magical relationship. In the world of online dating, that’d be the like saying you’re in a serious relationship with someone when you’ve only viewed the pictures on their online profile—making you a weirdo.
What About Net New Business?
Salesforce.com plays a small role in the growth of net new business. Until prospects become customers, they exist in Salesforce.com, but they aren’t being engaged, they aren’t being nurtured, and a relationship isn’t actually being established.
Most hotel brands have the marketing and procedures in place to drive enough business to make their hotels profitable leaving low expectations for their Directors of Sales to grow net new business. However, this reactive business model creates a major missed opportunity. Localized marketing presents a prime opening for increased net new business.
Localized marketing is rooted in providing local customers and prospects with location specific information personalized to their needs. Too many times GM’s and DOS’s are forced to establish local relationships with generic brand materials. These make the property feel like any other generic hotel instead of highlighting the features and amenities that are most important to that particular customer.
Less Weirdo, More Hero
CRM software has established itself as an essential tool for any hotel brand, and Salesforce.com is clearly the leader. However, as consumer preferences evolve, personalization and a customized experience will become the expectation of customers and prospects. In 2014, to build awareness, generate interest, establish a relationship, and create brand ambassadors your communication and interaction with consumers will have to move beyond your CRM and become personalized.
Photo Credits : quickmeme.com