Category

Hotel management

Automating room service

Is traditional hotel room service obsolete?

By | Automation, Hotel management, Room service | No Comments

Room service has always been costly and logistically complicated. Staff spend valuable time ferrying dishes to rooms and orders can be sporadic. Not only that, but the entire process takes longer than restaurant service. The extended transit time between kitchen to room means the food is likely to arrive cold or, if delivered in a heat-retaining dish, overcooked.

If the guest has an issue, resolving it takes even longer than in the hotel restaurant. On multiple course orders, members of staff have to deliver every dish simultaneously or lose valuable time running between kitchen and room. In short, room service is a pain.

As a result, hotels are shifting away from offering the service, but is it really the end of room service altogether?

How to develop an agile hospitality business model

The traditional room service model

Room service has been an established feature in hotels since the early 1930s. When the Waldorf Astoria opened its doors in New York, it promoted itself as a guardian of high society. The hotel wanted to shield its socialites, politicians and other wealthy patrons from the public. 24-hour in-room dining provided privacy and suggested an element of luxury absent from other hotels. The concept was soon picked up by other hotels and, like other ‘luxury’ features, began to filter down into more modestly priced establishments.

Since then, the basic process of room service has changed very little; guests order food and drinks through the in-room phone, kitchen staff prepare the dish and FOH staff deliver it to the room. Additional features like options to request flowers, and even a masseuse, have added strings to the room service bow.

Despite its enduring appeal, the traditional model room service is woefully impractical for a modern hotel. In an industry that relies on streamlining every process, traditional room service is proving too cumbersome for many hotels. 

Automating the in-dining experience

For an industry built on human engagement, automation seems counter to the very foundations of the business model. But it’s not just the hospitality industry that has undergone a seismic shift in the past decade. Guests, too, expect a more streamlined process and are willing to embrace some level of self-service to achieve it.

As technologies like AI, Automation and the IoT infiltrate daily processes, hotels are beginning to move away from features that require additional manpower. With the introduction of voice recognition technology like Amazon’s Alexa into hotel rooms, guests now have more power to order in their own way, with additional potential for personalisation and

For room service to survive, hotels must devise effective ways of automating order and delivery processes. Hotels across the US are experimenting with ‘robot bellhops’, with mixed results. Much better received, however, has been the use of data gathering to build a detailed profile of guests. These profiles can then be used to provide bespoke dishes to regular guests. This AI-fuelled approach to guest personalisation is rapidly finding favour in the industry because it can be implemented with little disruption to service. Additionally, the scalable nature of AI and it’s integration potential with the hotel CRM makes it doubly useful.

Woman using electric device in hotel room

Ordering with mobile

Due, in large part to the proliferation of smartphones, guests now have a world of choice at their fingertips. Even in a new city, guests are more likely to opt for an opportunity to discover local cuisine than they are to shell out for food in their rooms. The changing trends of travellers mean guests are more prone to seek an ‘authentic’ experience, one that’s much more likely to be found beyond the walls of their hotel.

Of course, many hotels are transitioning to a ‘mobile’ first approach. Unfortunately, guests often struggle to find their way to the room service from their own smartphone. Instead, they need a direct line to specific departments. Ordering from room service through legacy hotel phone systems (i.e. the hotel landline) has been in decline for the past decade. Despite this, when hotels introduce new technologies aimed at encouraging in-room dining, they see a boost in orders.

We live in the age of device-driven engagement – people prefer to use technology they are comfortable with, specifically one which already understands their preferences. In this hyper-personalised environment, only hotels

With a Genie device, guests can order directly from room service with options to list additional requests and dietary requirements. Hotels with Genie room service integrated into their CRM can automatically log and collate all orders to the system. This data can then be used to inform future menus and develop a better understanding of guest preferences.

Ordering from outside the hotel

At its core, room service is about maximising RevPAR while showcasing your hotel’s services. So, allowing guests to order food from outside the hotel is surely contrary to a hotelier’s instincts. After all, guests would otherwise spend that money in-house. But more and more hotels are partnering with local delivery services to provide in-room meals.

It’s only when you begin to break down the room service process that the logic behind this move becomes clear. A 100 room hotel where just 2% of guests order room service per night could find the service is less valuable than previously thought. Keeping your kitchen open all hours of the day, paying chefs and sending floor staff on delivery duties will all add up. Instead, hotels that don’t want to deprive guests of the option for food could instead partner with local food establishments. In this way, guests maintain the option for in-room dining, while the hotels take a cut of each order.

It’s not just restaurants that are partnering with hotels to broaden guest horizons; guests of the Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham in New York can order an in-room cooking program enabling guests to make meals in their rooms. Meanwhile, the Residence Inn, part of Marriott International, now includes an option for guests to order groceries in their suites. Hotel employees pick up the supplies, with the costs added to the final bill.

These new innovations come in response to a shift toward a more ‘home-familiar’ experience, mirrored in the rise of the sharing economy and ‘authentic-stay’ establishments.

Ordering healthy breakfast through room service

Of course, the hotel industry isn’t one single organisation. Some hotels will cling to traditional room service for some time to come. Simultaneously, this shouldn’t stop other hotels taking advantage of the growing list of technologies on offer. In this hyper-competitive market, hotels should consider any innovations that can further streamline hotel processes without diminishing service. To say room service is an outdated concept would be premature. The means by which it’s ordered, supplied and enjoyed, however, are in dire need of an update.

Using hotel guest data from CRM to develop hotel services

Data in hospitality is only as valuable as the insights you take from it

By | Analytics, Hotel management, Hotel technology | No Comments

Every hotel recognises the power of data in improving their services and marketing, so why do so few hoteliers use it correctly?

Of all the travel innovations of the past decade, data in hospitality could prove to be the most significant. Compiling quantified information on every aspect of the guest experience, data is redefining how the industry measures success.

Despite this, industry research suggests businesses are losing $62 billion per year through poor customer service. Meanwhile, recent surveys have also discovered that more than 40% of hotels have only a basic data analysis plan in place. It’s not simply a case of hotels failing to gather valuable data. Often, they simply just don’t know how to turn those numbers into actionable insights.

So how can hotels implement an effective data strategy? The path to data nirvana varies according from brand to brand, but there are some common elements every hotel should consider.

Using hotel guest data from CRM to develop hotel services

Making sense of the channels

In hospitality, data comes from a range of sources. It’s held within primary operational systems, secondary platforms, and online distribution channels. Simultaneously, data can be classified into three distinct groups.

First party data is gathered directly from hotel guests either through the hotel website, social media or in-hotel interactions. Second-party data, meanwhile, is collected from strategic partnerships with relevant companies such as airlines or credit card companies. Third-party data, on the other hand, is purchased directly from other companies.

To help make sense of the myriad channels through which hotels gather their data, we’ve broken them down according to the different daily processes of a hotel, both internal and external.

Hotel operations

CRM/PMS

Tracking the efficacy of your hotel amenities is made easier when your multiple technologies are centralised in one platform. Just like any hospitality business, hotels have numerous points of engagement that must be tracked, measured and optimised.

For hotels, tracking guest engagement can span from initial check-in to guest use of amenities to room service.

Each of these engagement points yields invaluable data. If they’re not analysed as one, they will only show a fractured image of your hotel’s true performance. Only a well-organised, accessible PMS and CRM model can prevent these disconnected sections of data – ‘data-silos’ – forming. As Andrew Sanders, VP, Travel & Hospitality of DataArt says, “Interoperability and integration will be our industry’s biggest challenge as innovation takes hold.”

Operational efficiency

Coordinating staff in a large hotel is a major logistical challenge. With so many different elements operating to their own time-frames, ensuring optimum efficacy requires a cohesive approach informed by measurable objectives. Thankfully, internal avenues rich in data abound in hospitality.

From data on electricity and water consumption to cleaning supplies, the analytics gained from internal operations can enhance efficiency and reduce expenditure. When this information is compiled into a centralised platform, hoteliers have a complete picture with which to develop actionable insights for planning, strategy, costing and decision-making.

Using data in hospitality to inform guest offers

Room pricing

Data is an essential element of yield management, ensuring each room is optimally priced according to the fluctuations in demand typical in any hotel. When combined with unstructured and semi-structured datasets such as weather and local events, hotels can accurately forecast demand. From this, they can begin to determine a value that offers both value for money and a good margin for the hotel. This is essential in 2018, where customers are willing to trawl the OTAs in search of the best deals.

The hotel chain Red Roof Inn is a great example of the value of anticipating demand through data. During the particularly snowy winter of 2013/2014, the company found that flight cancellations had increased by a pretty substantial 3%. This meant around 90,000 passengers were left stranded every day. The chain’s marketing and analytics team worked together to identify public datasets on weather conditions and flight cancellations. Following the launch of a targeted marketing campaign, Red Roof Inn hotels located nearby to airports saw a 10% increase in guest business.

Booking/pre-arrival

Approximately 80% of IT respondents indicated their budgets have grown over the past five years. Under increasing pressure to improve the customer experience, many have invested that budget in a range of customer relationship management tools. Despite this investment, many hotels still fail to track basic customer feedback. While customer service tools like voice recognition, live chat functions and AI have become more commonplace, the data gathered from these tools often languishes in outdated CRM’s.

That’s a crying shame – for hotel and guest – because so much of this information can be used to improve the experience. For instance:

  • Contact information – Guests begin providing valuable information even before they check-in. By compiling a guest’s contact info, hotels can begin to build up a detailed picture of guest statistics and tailor personalised marketing messages to develop mutually beneficial long-term relationships.
  • Reason for visit – Identifying the reason for a customer’s visit empowers a hotel to begin tailoring their service to their specific requirements. Is the guest travelling on business? Offering access to a meeting room or a wake-up call shows a hotel is willing to go that extra mile and builds brand loyalty.
  • Social profiles – Hotels that include social buttons in their digital interactions with guests open up a world of opportunity for data-gathering. Not only do social profiles give hotels an opportunity to reach new potential customers, they provide invaluable demographics on their guests. This information can go on to influence future marketing campaigns and provide more background on particular guests.

Using data in hospitality to optimise the booking process

Website

When it comes to tracking site metrics, the sheer volume of information can be daunting. It’s not enough to simply track on-site behaviour. Digging into how a guest engaged with content gives hoteliers a better understanding of the strengths and, more importantly, weaknesses of their current website marketing.

Likewise, knowing exactly how a guest found the site – i.e. organically, via an OTA, etc. – enables hotels to understand where to target future marketing campaigns.

With over 83% of bookings now made online there’s no shortage of data. This data can go on to inform almost every aspect of a hotel’s digital marketing procedure and enrich the guest experience.

Mobile

It’s 2018, so every hotel should have optimised their website for mobile. But a mobile optimised site isn’t enough. Even just looking at the different devices visitors use to access your website can shine a light on where to direct future marketing campaigns.

Likewise, the time at which your visitors book a room can tell the hotel a lot about the kind of services they may want upon arrival. If a guest books their room the day before check-in from another country, it’s unlikely they’ll respond to follow-up emails until they arrive. The same guest, however, may be more receptive to information about nearby venues and attractions, as they’re less likely to have researched the local area.

Social media

While most hotels are waking up the value of using social media as customer relationship builder, they still regularly underestimate the power of social media in its data gathering capabilities. In fact, less than 50% of the companies surveyed use tools to analyse and implement social media data.

That’s not to say there aren’t tools out there to fill this gap. Hotels have access to a range of social media analytics platforms. These media management tools can reveal which social posts received the most interest, how many times they were viewed and how many resulted in click-throughs.

Social media provides an invaluable opportunity for hotel brands not just to learn more about their guests, but to learn more about their own services and the guest experience.

Hotels can use social media data as a means of personalising offers directly to customers. Not only does this reduce waiting times, it builds brand trust through greater transparency and informs future services.

Using social media data in hospitality

Arrival

Check-in

Mobile optimisation isn’t just for your website. With some form of automated check-in, hotels can increase guest satisfaction and gather valuable data. This data can inform any number of actions, including upgrades, dietary requirements and the preferred check-in times of specific guests.

Of course, the amount of insight gained by studying the data from check-in can vary. Collecting standard guest information like name, country origin, room and check-in time keeps things simple. However, building a more nuanced picture of guest preferences requires a greater degree of grey-shading.

Knowing what kind of device a guest uses, preferences from previous stays at your hotel and the reason for their stay enables hotels to promote relevant services through the right channels.

With real insights gained from data, a hotel can identify not just the right guests, they can target that guest with personalised information at the optimum time and drive revenues through timely deals.

During their stay

Maximising room value – Every guest engagement with staff and request for in-room services provides an opportunity to learn more about guests.

RevPAR might give hotels optimum return on room rates, but that’s only half the picture. Hotels must also study what guests spend when in their room.

Look at what guests are spending on the mini-bar, in-room entertainment or room service. Hotels willing to integrate this data in real-time can develop personalised offers the very same day. The guest enjoys access to deals that enhance their stay while the hotel enjoys a boost in room-revenues.

Hotel amenities – Likewise, promoting in-hotel services and amenities like the restaurant or spa is a fool’s errand unless hotels track their success rate. With a Genie device in every room, hotels promote in-hotel amenities and gain invaluable metrics on guest behaviour. For instance, if guests tend to click-through on a certain dish around the festive season, the hotel can begin to tailor future offers around this dish and drive restaurant revenues.

Outside the hotel – It’s a question that has perplexed hoteliers for generations. Just what do guests enjoy when they’re not in your hotel? In this hyper-connected world, the answer no longer has to remain a mystery.

Today, there are numerous channels through which to engage a guest when they’re exploring a city, providing the hotel can provide an incentive to engage. With a Genie device, guests can explore the local area with unlimited data. In return, hotels have the opportunity to study anonymised metrics to gain a better understanding of guest preferences.

It’s a major challenge to hotels, but gaining insights on guest behaviour outside the hotel isn’t impossible. By supplying guests with a Genie device, hotels can help curate the guest experience while turning the observations into personalised suggestions.

Engaging with eco-travellers through eco-hotel resources

Upon leaving

Check-out

When a guest leaves the hotel, hoteliers might be forgiven for merely keeping their details on file, adding them to a mailing list and, at most, emailing a ‘thanks-for-staying’. But checkout doesn’t signal the end of the guest journey. Data in hospitality settings comes from every step of the guest experience, and that includes after they check out.

By registering data from other elements, including flight times, hotels can offer additional services like late checkout and post checkout-storage to the right guests. This, in turn, builds brand loyalty and lays the foundation to return visits. Likewise, if the data shows a guest has used a hotel amenity during their stay, a voucher provided on check-out can go a long way to enticing them back next time around.

Guest feedback

Everyone’s a critic these days. Online OTA’s and travel review sites have shifted the power dynamic to guests. Anyone can leave a review, and these reviews can have a major impact on a hotel. 88% of travellers filter out hotels with an average star rating below three. Every hotel now dedicates some of their marketing effort to increase ratings on online review sites, but very few dedicate any time to looking at the data behind these reviews.

But how do you quantify qualitative feedback? First, you have to develop a coherent method of collecting feedback. This requires deciding which elements of the guest experience mean the most to you.

After that, you’re going to need some form of automated natural language processing (NLP) to comb the feedback and pick out recurring themes. These NLP’s don’t always provide an accurate picture. After all, language is so diverse, it can be difficult to tell when a guest has mentioned a feature or service in a negative or positive light. That’s not to say it can’t provide valuable insights into commonly mentioned elements of your hotel. AI and machine learning are constantly improving the review quantification process. Hotels that are willing to invest a little now could reap invaluable insights from the wealth of data available.

Quantifying text reviews to gain data in hospitality

More than anything, it’s vital that hoteliers ensure their data focus aligns with their strategic objectives and goals. Charting a map through the jungle of metrics becomes significantly easier when you clearly establish your objectives beforehand.

With disruptive technologies like social media, Airbnb and mobile-first technologies shaking up the industry, it’s never been more vital that hotels take advantage of every available innovation. Data can provide that competitive advantage, but only if hotels know how to turn cold hard numbers into real-world actions.

Check in desk threatened by automation in hospitality

Is automation in hospitality rendering the hotel check-in desk obsolete?

By | Automation, Hotel management, Hotel technology | No Comments

Technologies are transforming traditional hotel practices. What does it mean for the fabled front-desk?

After some industry figures speculated the hotel of the future could do away with front desks altogether, there was an uproar from experts and consumers alike. But in an industry where any opportunity to reduce costs must be considered, doing away with the check-in desk could be the only option for hoteliers. So what does the level of increasing automation in hospitality mean for customer service, and are we losing the personal touch so integral to the hotel experience?

The check-in desk of today

Gérard Laizé, general manager of VIA (Valorisation de l’Innovation dans l’Ameublement) put it best when he explained the current hotel predicament – “As far as lobbies go, there are currently two concerns: a general exasperation with welcoming guests like bank tellers, a desire to offer a warmer welcome and a will for speed and efficiency.”

One of the key issues arising from the traditional ‘check-in desk’ setup is that most new guests don’t really want to engage with a member of staff. This is doubly true in hospitality, where guests often arrive from a long journey with tired children in tow. This makes it more challenging for members of staff to upsell hotel amenities, offer upgrades and generally make a good first impression. Designated check-in times can also lead to bottlenecks. When numerous guests try to check-in simultaneously, staff can be overwhelmed, leading to delays that could impact a guest’s overall perception of the hotel.

Many in the industry, however, still see the front-desk as integral to the overall ‘feel’ of a hotel. They argue that without it, guests would be left adrift on arrival, unsure of who to turn to when trying to find their way to check in. As Emma Crichton-Miller emphasised in an article for the Financial Times, ‘The overt function of the desk is diminished but its symbolic function remains’.

Hotel lobby with check-in desk resisting automation in hospitality

Automation and AI in hospitality

Of all the changes in the hospitality industry over the past decade, AI and automation will have the most significant impact on the day-to-day guest experience. Although not limited to the lobby, these technologies are already improving the check-in experience by giving more freedom to the guest, enabling check-in outside peak hours and freeing up staff to focus on providing additional services.

Although the check-in desk is still the preferred option for many looking to find information, guests increasingly look to digital solutions, including AI and in-hotel chatbots, for answers to an array of typical questions. Automated hotel services take the pressure off hotel staff while increasing upselling opportunities. After all, the easier it is for guests to check-in, order room service, and book tables in the restaurant, the more likely they are to use the service throughout their stay.

Simultaneously, technologies like Genie can act as a portable, personal concierge, giving tips on the best places to eat, drink and explore, regardless of whether the guest is in the hotel or exploring the city outside.

Using a hospitality CRM to manage hotel services & up-selling

Face-to-face interactions aren’t obsolete

Of course, the hotel check-in desk isn’t just for checking in. It’s also the go-to point for information about the hotel as well as a place to find tips on external attractions, restaurants, and venues. Hotels will find the most success in adapting the desk to guest’s changing preferences, including finding a means to keep hotel staff available – not to mention visible – upon arrival.

Guests are liable to be wary of any establishment where their presence isn’t immediately acknowledged. Hoteliers need to establish clear processes for guests to follow. Not only this, hotel staff will need to remain on hand to provide assistance as soon as guests step through the door. This means integrating visible ‘key touchpoints’ (i.e. social area, hotel services, etc.) into the lobby design. Ideally, these key touchpoints will be in open, fluid spaces that enable guests to move freely without ‘penning in’ new arrivals.

Efforts by established hotel brands to streamline the check-in process are still in their infancy, but there is no shortage of ideas for how the lobby of the future could look. Holiday Inn recently introduced Open Lobby, where the multiple functions of lobby, restaurant, bar and business centre are combined in a ‘coherent space’. The design was based on numerous studies into how people used space in their own homes, combined with a survey of travel perspectives by IHG (Holiday Inn’s parent company) into the changing preferences of business travellers. The study identified a growing trend away from the traditional office format and towards a more personal, mobile-focused interaction process.

Hotels competing with AirBnB and embracing automation in hospitality

The hotel lobby lives on

Hoteliers still recognise the lobby as key to nailing that first impression. Lobbies are where new arrivals orientate themselves, and the front desk is still integral to this. Particularly in the age of the Instagram traveller, providing that shareable moment is integral to gaining organic attention. Hotels have been slow to embrace these new opportunities (after all, redesigning a lobby is time-consuming, expensive and, above all, disruptive), but more hoteliers are beginning to recognise the power of a great first impression.

The lobby serves a number of purposes beyond check-in, however. A survey of French hospitality professionals found that, while most of those surveyed say the primary functions of lobbies clearly remain welcoming clients (86%) and providing them with information (75%), 46% also mentioned meetings, 41% relaxation, 19% catering and 16% work. Hoteliers are already taking steps to integrate more ‘socially centred’ features. As interior designers, Paradigm Design Group pointed out in a recent blog post, “Hotel designers know that the lobby will keep a variety of groups and events, and they try to make the space versatile and multifunctional. We have changed the perspective that hotels are only a place to check in and out. The rise of competition and social nature of guests demand so much more.”

Free-moving staff could still be on hand to greet new arrivals in the lobby in the check-in-desk free hotel of the future. This dispenses with the rigmarole of long waiting lines and static meeting points but requires hotels accept, as they are slowly coming to, that self-service doesn’t necessarily mean lack of service.

Using a hospitality CRM to manage hotel services & up-selling

The future of the check-in desk

Even with the rapid pace of change in the industry, hotels will maintain some form of check-in desk for years to come. The main changes to hotel operations, according to a report by Amadeus, will be in the back-office systems. Automation, cloud storage and AI will streamline services while brands experiment with different FOH options.

While these innovations streamline the check-in process for hotels and guests alike, they won’t mark as significant a change to the overall hotel experience as removing a universally recognised element like the check-in desk. So what would a desk-less vision of hospitality look like?

In a future without physical check-in points, guests check-in simply by entering their room for the first time. Patrons receive their room number, download an access code (either in the form of a QR code or through uploading a fingerprint scan), gather information on hotel amenities and make special requirements known in advance through hotel-provided handsets.

Hotels could include automated (and even robotic) check-in points dotted around the lobby, much like the ‘self-check’ luggage kiosks popping up in airports around the world. Guests can check in at their own pace and the kiosks can upsell room upgrades and spa passes as simple CTA’s (Call To Action’s).

 

Hotel check in desk with trees

Fairmont Hotel Lobby: Image courtesy of Pargon, CC.-BY 2.0

Conclusion

The ultimate aim of hospitality is to provide the same level of comfort guests achieve at home. As Rohit Talwar predicted in his ‘Hotels 2020’ report, “With no front desk to include, hotel designers will be able to let their imaginations run that little bit freer. And for guests, staying in a hotel could become that bit more like staying at a friend’s house, where you’re approached on entry, given a comfortable seat and a drink, and then shown your room.”

While the desk itself may become a relic of the past, digital innovations will never completely replace face-to-face service. Technology can never totally replace human interaction. Instead, technology should complement and enhance face-to-face engagement. The leaders of future hospitality brands will have to establish a balance between these competing interests.

Using a hospitality CRM to manage hotel services & up-selling

How to integrate a hospitality CRM into your Hotel Management System

By | Hospitality, Hotel management, Hotel technology | No Comments

.Customer relationship management is a constantly evolving concept. While the core concept remains the same across industries – managing every engagement opportunity to build and increase loyalty – each business has its own unique requirements.

In hospitality, how you engage with your guests is dependent on a number of factors. In-house amenities, location and historic/cultural significance should all play a part in defining the right kind of CRM for your hotel.

Putting these elements aside, there are some processes every hotel should consider before integrating a new CRM model. Thankfully, Genie is on hand to walk you through the process. 

New York hotel exterior with new hospitality CRM

Identify

Aims – What is the overall goal of the CRM? Introducing a new CRM to your hotel requires coordination between all departments, so it’s vital to consider why you are changing your approach before launching into anything.

Obstacles – What elements of your current setup prevent you from creating streamlined data-flows? Do yourself a favour; identify data silos before you embark on any kind of CRM implementation. From there, you can take steps to make every aspect as transparent, accessible and concise as possible.

Channels – Which channels do you hope to integrate with a CRM? How well do these different channels fit together? By identifying the weak spots in your current CRM system, you can avoid data blind-spots with your new system.

Of course, with all that data you’ll need a plan detailing how it will flow into your CRM. Draw up exactly how you plan to manage the data, along with how you plan to turn that data into real change in your daily processes.

Using a hospitality CRM to boost sales hotel restaurant

It’s not enough to harness the information from your hotel operations, you must turn that data into actionable insights. Coordination between departments is simpler with Genie devices in the hands of select staff. Meanwhile, identifying blind-spots becomes easier and guest behaviour data becomes infinitely more accessible with a Genie phone in every room.

Establish

Targets – You’d be amazed how many businesses begin the arduous process of CRM integration without considering what exactly they’re trying to achieve.

So, after identifying your aims, you should be able to draw up measurable targets. Looking to increase up-selling in room service? Take a look at the amount you make per room per stay and the current process of ordering room service so you can begin to draw up realistic targets. By giving your team access to quantified goals, upselling opportunities become more attainable.

Perimeters – It’s important to understand your limits when introducing a CRM. As much as you would like to, you can’t control every aspect of your guest’s behaviour. A multi-department CRM can, however, give you peace of mind that every accountable facet of the guest experience is being documented and shared with the right staff.

Milestones – Break down your CRM implementation into easy-to-manage, measurable milestones. This way your staff have a more digestible set of goals and, in the event of an issue, you can more easily identify where something went wrong.

Staff – Choose which members of staff should cover which areas. While this may seem like an easy choice – surely the restaurant manager is best to spearhead the food service side – there’s no guarantee all the different leaders will work well together. Identify each member of staff’s strengths and weaknesses and build your team around who works best together, and can best communicate when there’s a problem.

Vintage hotel hallway updated using hotel CRM

Introducing a new CRM can be a stressful experience but, if done in conjunction with Genie, hotels can provide a centralised, stable platform through which to draw up shared goals, develop measurable milestones and designate specific roles.

Instigate

In implementing the hotel CRM across your platforms, there’s an understandable urge to delay it until it’s absolutely perfect. Everyone wants to launch with a perfect CRM, but you can tweak elements as the system as you go.

As you put the system into place, bear in mind the key components of each section and how they work together. Areas to consider include:

Platform integration – Which platforms are you going to include? A consistent email platform (i.e. Gmail or Outlook, not both) makes integration simpler, while a single, hotel-wide instant messaging system means your staff are always in the know. If your hotel has its own app, make sure you can integrate the data gained from guest usage into the CRM.

Of course, the needs of your hotel should inform the integrations you choose. Simultaneously, it’s vital to take account of the external needs of different departments. The kitchen, for instance, will regularly require stock and equipment orders. Communication with suppliers, meanwhile, is integral to the efficient running of the cleaning department.

Information sharing – The rapid sharing of information between different departments should be integral to your hospitality CRM. Streamlining communications requires cohesive integration of your platforms and a robust system. Above all, this CRM must ensure the right people can access the information these platforms provide.

Sales forecasts – Data gained from everyday hotel operations will make drawing up sales forecasts simpler and more verifiable. After all, predicting how the CRM will influence ancillary revenues is a lot easier when you have all the information to hand. Likewise, developing a coherent sales strategy for the future becomes more straightforward when you can set measurable targets for every hotel department.

Guest analytics – Data is the oil that makes your CRM engine run. That’s why it’s essential your CRM provides readable, actionable analytics. When your team can easily understand how to turn the insights provided by your analytics into actions, guest satisfaction, selling-opportunities and inter-departmental coordination will all come that little bit easier.

Storage – By this stage, you’ve probably considered every option for your CRM, but where exactly your data will be stored often comes as a last consideration. Storing it on local files can limit access for other departments or members of staff. Meanwhile, purely Cloud-based storage can present issues for hotels in areas where connection is sporadic. Regardless of which you choose, it’s important to regularly check and update your CRM.

Using hotel guest data from CRM to develop hotel services

As with all hospitality CRM’s, the key focus is in maintaining a regularly refurbished, accessible database. This database should be a central column of information, collating guest data, outgoing costs and staff processes. With a Genie device in every room, analysing guest behaviour is easy and non-invasive. With integrations for hospitality CRM’s, anonymised data on every aspect of the guest experience can be gathered, saved and analysed with ease.

Measure

Reflect – How close are you to achieving the goals you set out in the Establish phase? It’s important to measure your failures just as much as your successes. Where did your CRM struggle to turn that data into real insights? Which areas of the hotel provided the least data?

Of course, your CRM is about making the most of the mountains of data provided by everyday processes, so it’s vital you look at just what that data is saying.

Compare – Did some elements of your CRM work better in the winter season? Perhaps room service sales decreased during a major local sporting event? By breaking down your data into categories, you can see which aspects of service work, and which require some tweaking.

Persevere – Measuring the effectiveness of your hotel CRM is a never-ending process and requires constant adjustment. To really find success with your hotel CRM, you have to be ready to listen to the numbers.

Using guest analytics to develop your hotel CRM

Image courtesy of www.seniorliving.org

Genie devices provide analytics on the most effective sales methods, as well as the browsing behaviour of guests. This gives you the freedom to study every aspect of the guest experience and build your services around quantified successes.

Refine

So, you’ve implemented your CRM, you’ve basked in the data and you’ve measured every aspect of your service. Now it’s time to fine-tune those services.

It’s by no means an easy feat. There’s no secret formula to complete success, so take your time and make incremental changes. This way, you can trace and rectify any drop in sales or guest satisfaction without upending other vital processes.

Managing guest check in using your hospitality CRM

Genie gives your hotel the freedom to trial new offers and services to a small group of guests. With the data provided through guest interactions with Genie devices, you can measure changes against other control groups.

Introducing a hospitality CRM will always be a challenge. With forward-planning and a strong understanding of your goals, hotels can increase guest loyalty, drive revenues and start anew.