In a world where hotels are at the risk of becoming commoditized, it is becoming increasingly clear that differentiation needs to move beyond thread counts, in-room dining options or the number of channels on the TV.
The product features of a hotel need to be communicated in an appropriate way to guests, particularly on-property. Even if the booking came through a third party, hotels have the chance to foster that relationship and interact in a personalized manner, reinforcing or creating loyalty.
Tim Sullivan, who was sales and marketing director for Cendyn at the time of the interview but is now its chief revenue officer, explained that this on-property relationship is more important than ever.
“Hotels are dealing in the world of commoditisation. They have ceded a lot of bookings to the OTAS, which are owning more of the customer relationship, so how do you differentiate, connect with someone?”
Part of the answer is to make sure that hotel staff – from the front desk, the concierge stand, operations, the person handling VIPs and top-tier loyalty members – have information “at their fingertips” which allows them to know the preferences and profile of the individual guest they are talking to.
This is the basis for its new eNgage product, which has been built out of Cendyn’s existing CRM and loyalty platform.
“We now have the ability to take the CRM data, which has been so succesful in driving marketing automation results for email campaigns and other digital initiatives, and then pushing that data to the front-line staff.”
Sullivan explained Cendyn’s approach in terms of “data, action and impact”. The former is about centralising all the data from hotel and third-party systems and cleaning it up to produce an enhanced profile of a guest.
With this in place, the next phase is action. Using the profile to automate relevant digital communications to guests is nothing new, but where eNgage takes the next step is in presenting the profile to front-line staff in a way that can be used to create a deeper and more meaningful relationship.
It suggests prompts to staff – he noted that if the person checking in booked through an OTA there is a prompt to collect the guest’s email address – and can be presented in summary or detailed form.
The final component is measuring the impact of the previous two stages using “advanced business analytics to track the whole cycle and make sure we are constantly optimising it.”
The net result is that the guest experience is better, staff are more engaged, loyalty is engendered and revenue increases.
“If you think about the guest journey – booking, check-in, the stay itself – parts of that journey have been optimised, parts of it still provide a lot of friction. We believe, and our customers believe, that we can do better at the check-in and check-out, things that actually happen at the hotel.”
Watch the video interview in full here: