h2c, a hotel distribution strategy & hotel content marketing services firm, released its Global CRM Study to highlight the current state of hotel customer relationship and data management. It builds on detailed insights obtained from an online survey as well as expert interviews with hotel chains in Europe, Middle East & Africa, Asia Pacific and The Americas.
H2c’s research has a focus on (1) the chains’ satisfaction level with their current CRM activities and solution, (2) system features and functionality gaps, and (3) identifying major areas of improvement.
* Enhancing the guest experience is not daily business yet
Improving the guests’ experiences is among the top priorities of hotels. But achieving this goal requires personalized data and content management processes that target individual guest as opposed to whole client segments. While email campaigns build the backbone of most hotel chains today, personalized communication and services are often lagging behind expectations.
* Mastering CRM challenges starts with clean data
Getting the basics right starts with clean data, which requires a reliable data cleansing process. However, the respective data automation was identified as the single largest CRM functionality gap. As effective marketing messages build on relevant content, they will hardly reap the traveler’s attention.
* One-size-fits-all is not the right CRM tech approach
Hospitality CRM solutions often provide an overload in system functionalities, as one size fits all seems to be the most cost-efficient vendor approach. Even 24 months after CRM system implementation, the average utilization rate remains well below the head office and hotel requirements. Integration issues – often a reason for not using all functionalities - need to be solved so that the full-service offering can be used efficiently.
In part, the underutilization of functionalities leads back to the hotels’ limited skill sets or resources in general. Low staff proficiency is often a cause for unused CRM functionality. For example, 84% of the survey participants’ CRM systems enable personalized communications, but only 19% of their emails are personalized (see Figure 6). For successfully managing CRM operations, system functionality alone does not suffice—personnel qualification is the driving force. Only the combined efforts of human resources and system technology leads to better personalization services.
* Expect more to come in data-driven services
CRM systems are increasingly taking the lead in guest data management, mainly at the expense of property management systems. This projected system shift is expected to provide hoteliers with more structured data, enabling data-driven decisions for their marketing activities and pricing in real-time. While today’s success in ancillary sales is rather low, data-driven revenue management is posed to gain traction within the next three years.
* On the rise: CRM investments and company-wide engagement
More than eight in 10 hotel chains will increase their customer experience investments over the next three years (only 2% expect a spending decline). As a major differentiation factor, personalized services have a major impact on increasing brand value.
Although personalized services are on the road map of most hotel chains for many years, various problems continue to hinder a successful implementation. Spoilt by Amazon-like experiences, today’s consumers are awaiting similar services from hotels. Even though this is not a fair comparison, the pressure on hotels is continuously increasing. Especially for regional chains, enhanced guest services have advanced from a nice-to-have feature in the past to a must have now.
This study combines the findings from an online survey (completed by 62 executives of global and regional hotel chains), 25 executive interviews with hotel chains and, 11 interviews with technology providers including sponsors. Some findings are complemented by h2c’s secondary research. In total, the study includes the answers of 85 unique hotel chains and covers the following regions: Europe, Middle East & Africa, Asia Pacific and The Americas. The study participants are from various functions including the CRM department, marketing, guest relations, IT, Distribution, Revenue and, operations.
Designed on a global level, the study has a fair distribution across hotel categories by star rating and hotel chain type (global and regional). The surveyed 85 hotel chains represent more than 5,000 properties and 774,000 rooms worldwide.