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Best Practices for Seamless CRM Integration in the Hospitality Industry

Fierce competition breathes life into new business strategies — always has, always will. While a bit of an adage at this point, it’s worth emphasizing, as it’s been the general formula in our industry-centric world for decades. To manage a business, even in the hospitality sector, entails endless brawls with other competitors to drive revenue. But before someone can make breakthroughs in their hotel chain, for example, finding out what equals “proper guest satisfaction” comes first and foremost.

The Key to Understanding

This brings us to CRM – or, Customer Relationship Management, in non-abbreviated terms. While often confused for a type of software, CRM more broadly refers to a series of connected processes surrounding the analysis of customer-driven data. In other words, CRM (which has its dedicated software) allows businesses to get to know their target audience, but it’s not necessarily as clear-cut in practice.

To put it simply – you can’t make the mistake of treating the process as a one-time task. The reality is much more complex, requiring dedication, careful planning, and more than a bit of fine-tuning. Luckily, for today, we will touch upon the best practices that separate the good and not-so-great in CRM integration.

Pick Your Software Wisely

While the concept of managing customer relations dates to the 70s, it wouldn’t be until the software boom in the 90s that we’d start seeing CRM-specific software pop up in every corner. And like most digital solutions, the sheer number of services makes it tempting to opt for the “best and biggest” one, such as Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM. Right? Wrong. CRM software isn’t a “one size fits all” deal. What’s often deemed “best” depends on one company’s needs and capabilities.

Services like Pipedrive or Odoo are far more appropriate for medium-sized organizations due to their cost-effective, customizable, and open-source solutions. There’s also Salesforce, which seamlessly integrates with other apps — even other CRM solutions like Dynamics. However, expect to pay more for additional plugins, as forecast management and custom dashboards come at an extra cost.

As one of our biggest clients deals precisely in hospitality-centric CRM solutions, we can’t help but recommend that our readers consider these three aspects: budget, ease of implementation, and word of mouth. That last part is especially vital, as it gives you far more insight than a comparison chart ever will.

Automation is a Fickle Friend

As with most facets of life, efficiency is the key to a smoother experience. With modern digital solutions on our side, streamlining has become a matter of commitment to automation. By efficiently automating tasks such as reservations, individual booking confirmations, and feedback overviews, you significantly reduce room for human error. Or so you might think!

You see, while this is all good on paper, there is such a thing as insufficient CRM automation. In an attempt to broaden client reach, organizations make the mistake of deploying overly generic messaging, which disengages the customer. Moreover, you can’t expect the data to read itself, hence why having some human intervention can help you avoid inaccuracies and outdated parameters.

Automation should act as a tool, not as an additional team member who does all the work. By carefully utilizing specific subsets of customer data to send personalized recommendations and following them up with exclusive deals, you build loyalty while also rewarding it in the process.

Take Advantage of Platform Integration

It’s not immediately obvious, but CRM systems can often co-exist with and (more importantly) benefit other operational networks, such as property management systems or even entire marketing platforms. For example, some hotel chains combine CRM with property management to optimize their real-time update net so that guests receive more accurate responses than those of isolated systems.

Actively integrating CRM data into your marketing platform can also boost the effectiveness of targeted ad campaigns and deploy tailored offers and/or rewards. Additionally, centralizing guest data has subtle benefits in comprehensive profiling concerning feedback and past interactions, which your current CRM integration may otherwise overlook.

Prioritize Security and Compliance

Don’t be fooled into thinking that your customers’ data is a given, nor that it can be tossed around without a care throughout your organization’s network. Regardless of their size, companies that delve into hospitality must always invest time and resources into staff training and data security. Building trust is about giving, not just taking, after all.

While poor data security can lead to compromised trust, the problems may often run deeper than that. Failing to implement proper permission management for employees can expose sensitive data to other competitors in the field. The best way to mitigate this isn’t the easiest, as regular auditing and backups of your CRM data are essential. Keeping track of your employees’ training is, naturally, also necessary.

Putting Everything into Practice

When all is said — it also has to be done, correct? Everything up to this point has been a series of steppingstones you must tread carefully. While we’ve taken you closer to understanding your customers’ needs, it’s up to you and your team to gather every vital subset of data and create an experience that will flourish from then on. Seems overwhelming? Far from it.

With a solid understanding of your company’s scale and immediate goals, you have a frame of reference for which software will suit you. Once that’s settled, you can focus on segmenting and slowly determine what’s essential and what’s frivolous. With automation and multi-platform integration at the back of your mind, you can tackle new and exciting horizons for your journey in customer experience—as long as you remember to uphold security, of course.

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