All industries in the world have undergone many changes and the hospitality industry is not immune to it. Continuous technological innovations play a major role as they allow users to access information for each service or business for a few minutes. Then there is social media, which not only penetrates every industry, but also has the power to change trends and shape the future.
It is no surprise then that consumer expectations have also increased. Gone are the days when the ad was taken at face value. We no longer have to resort to dated practices designed to collect only leads, inquiries or visits. Today, the focus is on retaining consumers and building loyalty.
The hospitality industry is particularly thriving in this approach. After all, isn't all customer service here? Reputations depend on popular perception, goodwill and word of mouth. Hotel experience can be enchantingly irreparable if even the smallest detail is mistaken for guests who do not oppose the use of social media to express their displeasure.
CRM depends on the conviction that building a consistent, sustainable customer base is far more valuable to the business than indulging in erratic marketing practices. It also takes into account three key things in its fullest form: People, Processes and Technology. As the industry thrives on segmentation and uniqueness, the hotel's "personas" can be as distinct as their customer relationships allow.
This is all the more relevant when you take into account the competition of the hospitality rug. Unless you put your customer relationship at the center of all your planning and strategies, you'll find your audience hitting your brand on their list. Then there are other factors, such as rising costs of attracting customers, rising customer expectations, price-sensitive travelers, more complex customers, uncertain market and diminishing brand loyalty – all of which put consumer relations in focus.
Good CRM and solid identity
To improve customer relationships, you first need to get started with the foundation that is your brand identity. If your brand seems vague or vague, consumers may not listen to what you have to say in the first place. Your identity must be partly eternal (core values, long-term mission, etc.), but it also needs to be tailored to the context.
For example, millennials are looking for a brand that is effectively using current trends in their ad, or a brand that is socially aware and taking steps in that direction when using their services. They are looking for technology-enabled services and a wide variety of interfaces. In this environment, if you look traditional and old, you may be far short of their expectations.
Identifying your primary demographics is essential. Then you need to create a story and a tonal for the brand itself so that you can form a specific identity. This should be in line with your core values and company culture, because the way you treat your employees reflects to a large extent the type of service they provide to consumers. From now on, creating a healthy sound for your brand on social media, keeping your audience up to date with what's new in your hotel, encouraging reviewers and addressing their concerns will become more seamless.
Happy employees and a working culture
The hospitality industry must emphasize employee happiness in order to improve customer relationships. If your staff and other staff treat hospitality as a dull affair or are driven solely by fear and authority, they are unlikely to treat guests with warmth and abundance.
Hotels also deal with feature-based rentals rather than simply relying on technical skills. This means that you should look for people who find great value in their hospitality to others. The personalities are more difficult to acquire, the technical skills not so much.
For example, take the whole registration process. The "service" aspect is simple enough. The guest enters, asks for his ID, and is then handed the keys. Now, in this scenario, the receptionist can jingle with all those scenarios he chooses during training, but their behavior, mannerisms, the truthfulness with which they interact with the guest are very important. Here, their innate characteristic of being warm and friendly is enlightening.
An unlucky employee with a script can be harmed. Consumers are extremely smart and resourceful nowadays and can smell fake hospitality for a mile. If your staff only provides a scripting service, your guests will be fired. To set yourself apart from other establishments, train your employees to understand the value of emotion, warmth, and care.
But this cannot be achieved if they themselves work in a difficult work environment. So, be sure to nourish your staff with the same warmth and considerations that you would like them to extend to hotel guests.
Promoting good relationships with your users means that you will meet and exceed customer expectations at any point. Meeting expectations is much easier for brands that have a strong presence with a certain standard of service, but it simply does not reduce it. Consumers are actively looking for better experiences, and as we said before, the same old offerings and cookie cutter conveniences have no value to them.
So, how can you target consumer behavior? By applying the right tools and technologies, of course. Analytics software is particularly powerful in this regard. Google Analytics can help you determine the following and more:
Guest responses to specific services
Consumer interests in the current context
This means that you can identify exactly what your guests like and personalize your services accordingly. In fact, personalization is the key to differentiation in an already flooded market. Marketing campaigns also succeed if they are highly segmented and targeted. Even pricing strategies can be manipulated, as Marriott does. They used customer analytics and feedback to rearrange their rooms according to the type of travelers who would stay there – leisure, business or even families – where more storage was provided. They also armed their reception desk with smartphones and tablets so that they could know what to expect from customers along with their requirements.
Consumer relationships are also cemented through loyalty programs. However, most hotels do not offer programs that meet the requirements of the guests, because I do not know what specifically will increase the retention. With analytics, you can do all this and more, so you should definitely consider incorporating it into your marketing strategy.
Another thing to explore is split testing – you can use a sandbox to test your potential campaigns and determine their performance before applying them on a large scale. It always helps to have foresight so that you don't control damage later – with forums like TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet, even one mistake can sustain your reputation significantly.
Connection and external elements
Every interpersonal connection requires open and transparent communication. More importantly, it must be consistent. This is also true of your customers, especially in a difficult service industry such as hospitality.
When you talk about communication, you should talk about mobile – because mobile is the most prevalent channel used today. According to WOW Local Marketing, 52% of customers are less likely to engage with the company because of a poor mobile experience. These are more than half of them who probably spread the word about your disability. In addition, 55% of customers focus on your website to formulate their opinions – as scalable for both mobile and web networks.
Customers would also like more transparent channels of communication and would appreciate as little redirection as possible. Do you remember that you had to go through at least five representatives to solve a simple request? And do you remember being disappointed that you received it, but you had to grind it and bear it anyway? Well, don't make your customers go through that experience because you don't want them to bring back the negative memories of their stay with you.
Empowering your employees to make decisions is something I want to emphasize especially here. The more capable they are when it comes to solving guest problems without having to redirect them or seek permission from their bosses, the more confident the guest will be – and will certainly come back thanks to efficiency to your employees.
Communication channels also need to be expanded to collect reviews and deal with traffic problems. The guest or user can provide critical feedback that you will need to contact immediately. If they think their opinions and inquiries disappear into the void, well … that's where your business can head.
Finally, take a look at your activities in the local community. If you engage in activities that deal with social issues and give back to the community, your brand image is greatly enhanced. Not only will the guest look at your brand from a utilitarian point of view, but it will also make you feel better because they have chosen you, rather than another dispassionate establishment that shows no responsibility at all to society.
After all, we all know that strengthening customer relationships is not a one-day activity. It requires patience, timely responses, improvisation and accurate reading of the industry to be effective. However, if done correctly, it can take your brand beyond the traditional players in the hospitality industry.