Hotel Online  Special Report
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e-CRM and e-Business: How it Can Be
Synergized in the Hospitality Industry
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By Robin Trehan (B.A, MIB, MBA). Vice President, National Hotel Exchange and CBK Family, September 2005 

The concept of e-CRM is the result of the run into between customer relationship management and the information and communication technologies. A Forrester Research report defines it as being a “web centric approach to synchronizing customer relationships across communications channels, business functions, and audiences”.

CRM automates and centralizes customer contacts. It allows the development of products and services by better understanding the underlying customer behaviour. It also provides a way to handle customers’ questions and complaints and provides direct immediate information to sales, marketing, and employees as needed to better serve the customers.

There are different kinds of e-CRM features that can be used by businesses:

Site customisation: when the company operates a web site (which are very useful e-CRM tools), it has the opportunity to make a lot of information available to the customers. Giving the right information at the right time to the customers is part of good CRM practices. However, a piece of information that is appropriate for one customer may not be appropriate for another customer and this is when companies are falling in the trap of the information overload. This is why site customisation features are so important: it will allow the customer to personalize her access to the site by choosing during her first visit to the site her preferences. A password protected entry and/or a cookie that will be left in her computer will allow the company server to recognize her during her next visits and will display only the information she desires. The example of MyYahoo.com is the most famous example of this customisable web site.

Alternative channels: the information and communication technologies will offer a variety of new ways for the company to get in touch with its customers. Examples are electronic mails, Short Message Service (SMS), voice over IP, which can be added to the list of older channels such as fax and phones.

Local Search Engine: this kind of function is very important to the customers since it allows searching the site on keywords in order to locate quickly specific information they are looking for.

Membership: as specified before, the company can ask the customers to request a password in order to navigate on password-protected parts of the web site. One advantage of such a feature is that it makes the customer feels special since she has access to a load of information, which is not available to everybody. But the most interesting advantage in term of CRM is the fact that the company will be able to gain valuable information from the customer when she registers to get the password.

Mailing list: in that case, the company will use different opportunities (the customer is browsing on the site, phone call, etc.) to have the customer register on the mailing lists which means that the company will be able to send newsletters or any customised information to the customer, by email and on a regular basis.

Site tour: the customer can follow a tour through the web site, which gives her an idea of the organization. Then, she will be able to easily find her way to appropriate pieces of information during her next access to the site.

Site map:  a map of the site is proposed to the customer in order for her to find her way easily through the different layers of pages contained in the site. It is a hierarchical diagram that can also be called site overview or site index.

Introduction for first-time users: this feature is very close from the “site tour” feature. In this case, the first-time visitors of the web site to access an introduction page that contains information about how to use the site the most efficiently.

Chat: this feature exploits the tremendous advantage of the internet which is the interactivity it provides. Indeed, the interaction between different customers and some company’s representative can, in a number of cases, generate information for the company and content for the site which are both very interesting elements. 

Electronic Bulletin Board: also called forums, this feature has the same advantages as the chat with the exception that the interaction won’t be instantaneous. A customer can use the bulletin board to post a message in order to ask a question or give her opinion about a product or a service. Then the message will remain on the forum and other customers of specific company’s employees will be able to react to this message. Again, this can produce interesting content for the site and the company can get interesting information about its customer.

Thus, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is about finding, getting, and retaining customers. It is in fact a combination of business processes and technology that seeks to understand a company’s customers from a multi-faceted perspective: who they are, what they do, and what they like. Application of the above stated e-tools will give a tremendous boost to the Hospitality industry. 

Robin C. Trehan is in charge at CBK Family and National Hotel exchange for taking the organization towards a REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust). He is also an industry consultant in the field of mergers and acquisitions of real estate & development companies. 

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Contact:

Robin Trehan 
Managing Director & Vice President 
National Hotel Exchange and CBK Family 
123 West Madison St., Suite 402  
Chicago, IL-60602 
Phone 312-920-1900, 312-920-1555 
1-866-NHE-HOTEL 
Fax     312-920-1950 
robin@cbkfamily.com 
www.nationalhotelexchange.com 
www.cbkfamily.com

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Also See: Core or Competitive Competence in Hospitality Industry? / Robin Trehan / August 2005
Which Valuation Method is Right for You? / Robin Trehen / August 2005

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