12, 2009 - Electronic customer relationship management (e-CRM), in the
context of Internet distribution and marketing in the travel vertical,
is a business strategy supported by web technologies.
It allows travel services suppliers to engage customers in personalised
and mutually beneficial interactive relationships, to increase conversions
and sell more efficiently.
According to specialists, it is important to understand that customer
service is only one aspect of e-CRM and is primarily a reactive function
aiming to improve performance and efficiency, while e-CRM as a whole is
a proactive long term strategy.
Agreeing with the same, Michelle Bozoki, director of marketing communications,
Marriott and Renaissance Caribbean and Mexico Resorts, says, "e-CRM is
a model which continually builds and improves upon itself. The customer
service piece must go hand-in-hand with the communication to ensure pull
through of stated preferences and build loyalty and shift market share
"A good CRM model will determine the potential lifetime value of a
customer and work towards achieving that through a long-term strategy of
communications and loyalty-based programmes," added Michelle, who is scheduled
to speak during CRM and Loyalty Strategies for Travel USA 2009 Conference,
to be held on March 4-5 this year.
Michelle, in an interview with EyeforTravel.com's Ritesh Gupta, also
spoke about how should a hotel website focus on segmentation, the frequency
of communication and much more.
EyeforTravel.com: In hospitality, different customer
segments should easily identify areas on the hotel website that "speak
to them". If you do not speak to each of these audiences, you will lose
most of them to your competition. Which is the best way to address this
Michelle Bozoki: The best way to
address this segmentation is to append these profiles to your database
using a variety of sources including: direct customer response, surveys,
3rd party national databases, profiling/segmentation, etc.
Once you feel comfortable that you have accurately identified your
customers in terms of their key buying motivator, then you can set up marketing
prioritisation models and rules based communications which directly address
their specified preferences.
There may be several layers to this profile, for example, a meeting
planner (level 1) who plans international meetings in Caribbean (2), and
is primarily interested in golf destinations and packages (3). The more
qualified data you have for each customer, the better able you are to create
communications that are tailored to meet their buying preferences.
EyeforTravel.com: There is a definite, measurable increase in
revenue from offers that allow a guest to customise their stay – pre-ordering
amenities, requesting room upgrades, booking spa appointments before arrival,
etc. But do you think the results of personalisation, however, are
a bit harder to pin down, and those initiatives can be detrimental if the
company does not obtain permission from the guest?
Michelle Bozoki: Yes, obtaining
permission from customers is essential or you run the risk of alienating
them rather than building loyalty. Some customers may have privacy issues
or feel that this approach is intrusive; others will welcome it openly.
Any challenges are easily overcome by simply inviting guests to be part
of a CRM program and effectively communicating the benefits they will receive.
EyeforTravel.com: Which is the best way to engage your customers
through personalisation, customisation and relevance?
Michelle Bozoki: Very simply -
be sure to communicate to the right customer, at the right time with the
right offer. Once guests have opted-in to a CRM programme then expectations
are set. A good CRM program will not only meet, but exceed these expectations.
Anticipatory communications will surprise and motivate guests. You want
them saying "how did they know I was just thinking about this?"
Communications need to be frequent but not overdone, have creative
appeal, and be content relevant. Desired customer action should be simply
communicated and involve seamless execution. Proactive tracking, analysis
and follow-up communications are necessary to ensure the highest levels
EyeforTravel.com: What according to you is the key in developing
true one-to-one relationships and customer experiences across a varied
Michelle Bozoki: Understanding
who your customers really are and what truly motivates them to act in the
desired fashion – and then making sure that your e-CRM program delivers
EyeforTravel.com: The biggest impressions made are by customer-facing
employees providing great service. Experts feel hiring the right people
and training them to care about the guest is really the best way to build
relationships. Do you think this is happening in hotels?
Michelle Bozoki: Yes, this is true
in some hotels and not in others. It comes from the top down. Marriott
puts a great deal of emphasis on this philosophy. Nothing could be truer
than Marriott International founder J. Willard Marriott's adage, "If you
take care of your associates, they will take care of the customer, and
the customer will keep coming back…."
This is our company's most important and enduring principle. The hotel
associates are an integral part of the CRM process and it is important
that they understand the complete "engine" in which they are involved from
the very beginning, through ongoing training and incentives. They are direct
ambassadors and have the potential to impact a customer much more significantly
than an email communication. The best strategy is to have a thorough combination
of both forces that work seamlessly together to have the greatest overall
impact on a customer's preference and long term loyalty.
CRM and Loyalty Strategies for Travel USA 2009 Conference
Michelle Bozoki, director of marketing communications, Marriott and
Renaissance Caribbean and Mexico Resorts is scheduled to speak during CRM
and Loyalty Strategies for Travel USA 2009 Conference, to be held on 4-5
March this year.
For more information, click here:
Tel: +44 (0) 207 375 7216