to Create ‘Emotional Connection’ with Repeat Guests
The Kessler Collection Locks in Repeat Business with Enterprise CRM suite;
Grand Bohemian Rewards ‘Grand Performers’ based on Feedback
from 1,300 Guest Emails in Two Years
|June 19, 2003 - What do
you do if your property is the reigning number one Westin hotel out of
77 in North America and winner of the prestigious Best in Brand Award for
2002, and you want to repeat the achievement in 2003, a feat that has never
been accomplished before in Westin’s history? You provide “positively
outrageous service.” At least that’s what Stuart Newmark, General
Manager of the upscale Westin Grand Bohemian in downtown Orlando, Florida,
believes. The Grand Bohemian is one of eight luxury properties
in the Southeast owned and operated by the well-known Kessler Collection
of Grand Theme Hotels.
Newmark is referring to a sophisticated customer relationship management tool that uses graphical Web page-like HTML emails to affordably establish one-on-one personalized relationships with guests. Visitors automatically receive a series of four emails, tastefully customized: a confirmation right after the reservation is made; a greeting ten days before their stay inviting them to sample a property’s amenities; a ‘thank you note’ within 24 hours after checkout wherein they may comment on their stay and commend hotel staff; and a fourth post-stay email ninety days after their visit offering special packages, but not undercutting their current rate if they are booked elsewhere in the system. The Kessler Collection of properties includes The Westin Grand Bohemian, Celebration Hotel, Casa Monica, Sheraton Studio City, Doubletree Castle, Hampton Inn Savannah, Red Horse Inn, William Kehoe House, and The Mansion on Forsyth Park.
“Anytime a Grand Performer’s name is mentioned in an email, I send them a personalized Star Card, and their name goes into the monthly lotto of earning gifts - movie passes or brunch at the hotel,” explains Newmark. Both the Grand Performers reward program, and the commitment to use a CRM suite based on the Data2Gold e-Relationship ManagerSM product from Digital Alchemy came from corporate. Doug Smith, Director of Revenue Management, E-Commerce and CRM at The Kessler Collection, says that creating customer loyalty through personalized communication and having an enterprise solution are the chief benefits of the online system.
“We knew we needed an enterprise system, like the tentacles of an octopus that bring data back to the head,” says Smith, who immediately integrated the company’s E-commerce and CRM functions after his move from the property level to corporate in the fall of 2002.
Email Touchpoints Drive Repeat Business at Fraction of Cost of Courting New Customers
“One of the most important things any luxury hotel can do is maintain a relationship with its previous guests and capitalize on the positive experience they have had. The expense of attracting each new guest can be five to seven times greater than persuading a previous guest to stay again.” Smith says, and notes that, previously, hotels had to capture emails on their own or through their property management systems, if possible.
The CRM software, which resides on a server at Digital Alchemy’s corporate headquarters, periodically scans each hotel’s Property Management System (PMS) for guest information such as name, email address, and details of previous and upcoming stays, including a history of guest preferences and revenue-generating activities. This information is extracted and used in automatically creating and sending customized emails to guests, and in collecting data for management reporting.
In fact, another key benefit of the CRM software is its ability to interface to, and centralize data from, any of the various PMS systems used in the Grand Theme Hotels. “Our email-based CRM system has enabled us to create an integrated cross-platform solution at the corporate level,” Smith says. “We are now able to automatically consolidate important guest information across our organization from the different PMS systems -- including those used by Starwood, Hilton, and Preferred Hotels -- that cannot talk directly with one another, and consolidate it for use in management reporting and in marketing initiatives such as cross-selling.”
In addition to the core Data2Gold e-Relationship Manager product, Smith also uses two other modules – Full HouseSM and QuickSilver Data WizardSM to market to previous guests. “The QuickSilver Wizard allows us to understand our guests in such a way that we can market back to them correctly,” says Smith. “We use the Full House component to drive revenue via guests who have already experienced a property. Right now we are working with Digital Alchemy to refresh exciting offerings to guests once a quarter.”
The Full House module helps hotels build occupancy by sending targeted email marketing messages to previous guests at the times they are most likely to be interested in receiving them. Digital Alchemy’s software uses guest information from a hotel’s Property Management System (PMS), such as how far in advance guests booked their previous visits, how much they paid, days of the week they traveled and stayed, etc. This information helps determine the best offer to send and when to send it. Unlike email “spam,” Full House sends emails infrequently and only when guests are likely to be most receptive. All communication with guests is first approved by hotel personnel, and consistent with existing marketing efforts. A key benefit of Full House is an increase in occupancy during non-peak seasons.
The QuickSilver Data Wizard extracts valuable guest information from a PMS, generates reports and delivers them immediately by email to a hotel’s management team. Specialized reports include: guest demographics, guest email addresses, accurate ADR, VIP and frequent-stay demographics, arriving/departing VIP, travel agent performance, plus other standard and customized reports.
The Westin Grand Bohemian’s GM, Newmark concludes, “We get a significant number of email responses to our invitation to comment on our property’s guest service -- 1,300 in the last two years -- and many of them are quite remarkable. In my 24-year career as a hotel general manager, I have never seen such emotional, heartfelt comments about how outstanding our hotel and especially our employees are. It’s a great tool for us to be able to ascertain immediately the level of satisfaction of our customers. The old days of getting a piece of paper mailed to you are gone.”
|Also See:||Le Pavillon in New Orleans Reaps 800% Higher Response Rate with New Guest Online Comment Card / June 2003|
|Loews Hotels Orlando Adds Digital Alchemy CRM Services / July 2002|
|Holiday Inn Family Suites Welcomes Digital Alchemy CRM Services / March 2002|