A serious question: as a hotelier, are you in the business of managing rooms or managing guests?
Stated another way, when running your business, do you think about your 200-room hotel and how to fill it? Or do you think about the 100,000 potential guests that could come stay with you if you were to market to your ideal guests at the right time in personalized and targeted ways?
There’s a big difference between these two approaches. If you’re primarily managing rooms, then, at your business’s core, you primarily rely on an inventory management system. If you’re primarily managing potential guests, then you primarily rely on a CRM platform to carefully know, delight, and ultimately earn the guests in your database through personalized and professional communications across the guest journey.
In most other industries, this transformation from an inventory-centric approach to a customer-centric approach has already happened. Look at retail. Look at ride-hailing services. Those who have become customer-centric are winning.
Why you need to be a guest-centric business
Moving from inventory-centric to guest-centric is a real business transformation. Just saying you’re now focused on your guests doesn’t mean you actually are. In fact, if you think about it, making this change means running a different business. This new business requires a guest-centric system at its core: A guest data platform (GDP) with all your rich guest data organized into profiles and segmented by various attributes. It requires new methodologies, processes, procedures and new measurements of success. To become truly guest-centric is not a “flip of the switch”, it’s a journey. But in our view, it’s also not optional. It’s do or die, and the sooner you start, the greater the advantage you can create.
What’s particularly fascinating is that our industry already knows its all about the guest! Locked away in PMSs and other systems is a wealth of data about guests. The key to their satisfaction, their loyalty, and their friends coming too is already there. It just needs to be unlocked and enabled.
Until hotels complete this switch from inventory-centric to guest-centric, until they embrace the transformation and get on the next core guest-centric hotelier systems, it will be a struggle. It’s a mismatch: you know you need to manage guests, but you’re using a room inventory management system to do it. That just won’t work.
You need more than just a PMS
Great software is designed to help certain people do specific jobs and functions really well, with ease and success, while ideally being highly intuitive and user-friendly. It enables specific tasks to be done in a way that produces amazing results and saves time.
Property Management systems were built to manage room inventory and empower front line staff to manage guests. It does the job of managing inventory well. It’s designed for that function, and that function will always be important and have its own roadmap of needs for enhancement and improvements. That’s also why a PMS company will never be a GDP company. They are very different systems, serving different people who perform different jobs. A GDP is purpose-built for guest data and relationship management.
So, what are the core elements of a guest-centric platform? To do it right, we believe you need a specialized, integrated platform that combines three things:
1. Guest Relationship Management
A good data platform has a central place to control the entire customer relationship. In hospitality, the guest should be at the center of everything, so you’ll need a guest relationship management system (GRM), a CRM specific to the hospitality industry. This GRM should help you synthesize and secure guest data at the property and group levels. This provides the ability to segment your database of guests to market to them in a personalized and custom way.
2. Guest Journey Communications Management
You need a platform that makes it easy for you to drive direct revenue by creating and customizing personalized campaigns, offers, packages and communications for your guests at every stage of the guest journey. Each of those communications needs to be consistent, on-brand and relevant to the receiver. You need a platform that helps you to manage these communications, including creation, delivery and storage.
3. Guest Feedback Management
Your business succeeds or fails based on your guests’ experiences. So you need to manage those experiences and reach out to your guest in a way that’s comfortable to them. Your hotel should be actively managing that experience not just while the guest is on-property, but throughout the entire journey, from when they discover your hotel to when and how they provide feedback about their experience.
It’s the combination of those elements, those capabilities, delivered from a single platform that gives you a massive head start and ability to be successful.