I travel a lot for business (more than I care to admit). And I’m always amazed when I hand my ID and credit card to a check-in agent at one of the large, well-known hotels I frequent, and I hear, “Hello Mr. Garibay, is this your first stay with us?”

I want to ask, “Don’t you know who I am?” Not that I’m anyone famous. But as a messaging guy who knows a thing or two about integration technology, I would expect to hear, “Welcome back, Mr. Garibay. We have your favorite suite waiting, set to a cool 68 degrees, just the way you like it. Shall I send up your usual French press, black with Stevia on the side tomorrow morning at 6:30?”

Okay. Maybe that’s asking a bit too much after only three visits. But when hotels fail to leverage information they already have in their system to enhance my experience — things like reservation history, room service preferences and the like — they miss out on an easy opportunity to turn an occasional guest like me into a life-long, loyal customer.

80% of companies believe they deliver superior customer experiences, but only 8% of their customers agree.
- Bain & Company survey

Laying the foundation for an effective guest insight program

The vast majority of hotel properties have some sort of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system in place. But a surprising few have connected CRM to their Patron Management System (PMS). Probably because no one has ever shown them the enormous benefit such real-time integration brings in terms of capturing valuable insights about their guests.

Integrating CRM with PMS adds historical context to guest information. So instead of delivering a cool and uninformed “hello,” your staff can greet returning guests with a warm and enlightened “welcome back.” It’s a subtle yet effective way to keep those guests from walking through the doors of your competition the next time they’re in town.

Repeat customers spend 67% more on average than new ones.

– Inc. Magazine

Once you have a CRM/PMS foundation in place, you’ll be on your way to building a successful guest insight program. But make no mistake; that’s only the first step in achieving a truly integrated system.

The taller the program; the better the view

The hallmark of any successful guest insight program is the all-important 360o guest view. But that view remains out of sight until you bring all your guest history, preferences and interactions together in one place in real time.

The good news is you already have that information in your PMS, POS, CMS, Spa, Food & Beverage, Kiosks and every other system you may have on your property. The not so good news is, those systems typically aren’t connected. And even if they are, it’s likely in a proprietary, vendor-specific manner that only allows you to draw stagnant reports of the past. What you want is real-time information that paints a dynamic picture of your guests in the present, so you can anticipate their future needs.

Imagine building a guest insight program like a multi-story hotel, where CRM is the foundation, and each of your property systems is a floor. And by stacking your systems — and the vast amounts of guest information they contain — into one seamless, integrated high-rise, you achieve a guest view like no other. And the more systems you stack, the taller the program becomes, making your guest view even better.

If you build it, they will come (back)

There’s no limit to the kind of guest insight program you could build with any or all of your property systems talking to each other and to you in real time through customized guest profiles and CRM dashboards. You would certainly know when a guest has been to your property before. But much more than that, every transaction, interaction and preference of every guest would be available to you – not only in one place, but also in real time – allowing you to anticipate guest needs and create custom experiences that keep them coming back.

Consider the following scenario:

Your reservations staff is alerted the moment John, a regular guest, books a room online. A quick glance at John’s profile reveals he usually comes alone and typically eats lunch every day in your deli cafe. Only this time he has reserved a room for two adults. When John and his companion arrive, you present them with a 2-for-1 coupon to your 4-star steakhouse. They enjoy a bottle of fine wine and dessert with their steak that evening and are so delighted by the experience; they end up staying two extra days.

This is not the stuff of fairy tales. It’s very real. In fact, a resort casino in New York is delivering these kinds of guest experiences today using a fully integrated guest insight program that combines every property system and asset, including the casino. You can read about their story here.

When hospitality organizations leverage today’s technology to capture guest information, transactions and preferences in a proactive approach to guest management, they are able to tailor incentives and offers to create memorable experiences that keep their guests coming back for more.

Rick Garibay is a hands-on technology leader, speaker and published author focused on distributed technologies with 13 years’ experience leading the delivery of complex, high-impact business solutions on the Microsoft platform and heterogeneous environments. Rick is currently Vice President and Distinguished Engineer at Neudesic, working on a number of solutions in the hospitality and gaming space that leverage real-time information and turn it into real-life insight for clients.

The post Why don’t they know who I am?
How to capture and leverage guest insight in real time appeared first on Neudesic.

Show more