The global leisure and hospitality market is extremely diverse, covering everything from hotels, restaurants and cruises to tour operators, airlines, and even car rentals and casinos.
Despite these encouraging numbers, the sector has witnessed a lot of upheaval in the past few years. With the proliferation of alternative, cheaper means of lodging and boarding – a certain Airbnb springs to mind – hotels and other leisure companies all over the world worry about their inability to get and retain customers, particularly from the ‘millennial’ generation.
Millennials love their research. They love their devices and social media even more!
· 85% of them check multiple sites before booking their travel to get the best deal possible
· 46% of them book their travel through a smartphone or tablet
· 97% will talk about their travel experiences on social media
(Source: Internet Marketing Inc.)
Moreover, ‘customer service’ and ‘customer experience’ are especially critical in the leisure and hospital industry. Unfortunately, organizations in this sector often struggle to maintain consistently high standards in this area – an especially problematic situation today when customer expectations are higher than ever.
Increasing digital literacy among their consumer base is another challenge for the sector. A bad online review from a disgruntled customer or a curt complaint posted to a business’ social media page can change the latter’s status from ‘popular and preferred’ to ‘reviled and scorned’ very quickly.
In a survey, 84% of customers said that they trust online reviews as a personal recommendation. 60% also said that negative reviews influence the way they judge the quality of a business.
At the same time, many leisure and hospitality businesses also struggle to engage with these customers, online and on mobile. As a result, they don’t get to know their customers well enough to create meaningful experiences for them that could keep them coming back, and help businesses garner positive, ‘backlash-free’ attention. A vicious cycle that is very difficult to break until it’s too late – if that!
Together, all these challenges have increased the pressure on such companies to up their customer service game. Not only do they need to provide high-quality and more importantly, personalized experiences to each customer, they also need to do it consistently while keeping costs down (and protecting their employees from going insane with overwork!). Only then can they serve their customers the way they expect to be served and stand out in an industry that is already super-competitive and will probably become even more so in the coming years.
All these challenges can be effectively mitigated with an increased focus on Customer Relationship Management (CRM). In particular, a software-based CRM solution like Salesforce Marketing Cloud can empower leisure and hospitality firms to understand their customers on a deeper level and engage with them in more meaningful, ‘non-transactional’ ways that boost both loyalty and sales.
Why Customer Relationship Management (CRM) for Leisure and Hospitality
In general, CRM is about managing customer expectations and interactions in order to personalize their journeys and garner their loyalty, while reducing the chance of potential customers getting lost in the shuffle.
“Without a CRM system, 79% of all marketing leads are never converted to sales.”
Leisure and hospitality firms in particular need a CRM solution that enables their marketing and customer service teams to develop stronger connections with customers so they can deliver proactive and personalized solutions that keep them coming back. At the same time, the solution must also empower them to boost their marketing efforts, strengthen their brand and get the edge over their competitors.
Is this a huge challenge?
But is this an insurmountable challenge?
Not with Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC)!
A CRM platform like SFMC that is cloud-based, mobile-compatible, and powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data, is perfectly placed to address all the above needs of the hospitality and leisure sector.
With SFMC, firms in this industry can:
· Juggle a high volume of customers while doing everything possible to meet their increasingly higher expectations
· Quickly address their requests and complaints
· Drive positive conversations around their brand
· Find and target high-value customers, and increase their onsite ‘spend’
· Develop unique services and engagements to strengthen the brand’s ‘pull’ over a longer period
Read on to know more about the benefits of SFMC for the leisure and hospitality sector!
Benefits of Salesforce Marketing Cloud for Leisure and Hospitality
Today’s customers demand personal experiences from their leisure and hospitality interactions, even though — and perhaps even because –prices are more or less the same. In such a cut-throat environment, it is critical to make every customer’s journey a ‘frictionless’ experience – before, during and even after the trip. This is what prevents customers from ‘switching’ to another brand and ensures their loyalty.
Firms in the leisure and hospitality space can do this seamlessly, reliably and affordably with SFMC’s fully-customizable solution that can be scaled up or down as required to deliver the following benefits:
1. Create personalized customer experiences that they will cherish forever
Personalized customer journeys are the best way to connect with customers and retain them for the long term – period!
52% of customers are likely to ‘switch’ if brands don’t personalise (sic) communications.
With Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants (USA) found a way to surprise and delight customers in personalized yet non-intrusive ways. They garnered 93% customer satisfaction scores and 89% emotional attachment scores – the highest of any hotel company in the USA.
Thanks to social media, plenty of information is already available online to help leisure and hospitality organizations find, reach and understand their current and potential customers. But figuring out how to interpret, activate and utilize that data is a completely different ball game. SFMC helps these firms address this gap and harness data (e.g. through visual dashboards) in effective ways so they can craft personalized journeys for each customer from initial contact and service delivery to beyond.
They can also harness the power of AI to make recommendations and to create connected guest services that can elevate a customer’s experience and ensure their complete satisfaction with the brand.
2. Connect with customers across multiple touchpoints (including mobile)
Today’s consumers expect mobile access as a bare minimum when they interact with leisure/hospitality brands all the way from research and booking to goodbye (and even beyond).
57% of customers expect easy-to-use mobile experiences.
Hotel guests predict that mobile payments and mobile hotel guides will be among the top travel innovations by 2030.
SFMC provides the means to connect with them through each such device and touchpoint. The resulting data enables brands to personalize their messages and experiences in order to deliver the right offers to the right consumers at exactly the right time and place. With SFMC tools, they can easily build and host customer portals and apps that can give teeth to their ‘multi-channel advertising’ objectives and ultimately create memorable experiences that can turn today’s customers into forever fans. They can even set up automated campaigns (such as email drip campaigns) throughout the sales funnel that are triggered by specific actions and ‘speak’ to a specific audience.
3. Manage customer loyalty without having to ‘buy’ it
“77% of (transactional and rewards-only) programs fail within the first two years.”
72% of social media sentiment towards loyalty programs in the hospitality industry is negative.
Furthermore, a very small percentage of travel loyalty program members tend to actively encourage their family or friends to join the program – even if they have had a positive redemption experience.
SFMC empowers leisure and hospitality brands to manage customer loyalty in meaningful and personalized ways without needing to ‘buy’ it with traditional points-based rewards programs. These personal customer experiences can be much more effective at keeping customers coming back for more and staying with the brand for the long term.
4. Monitor online brand conversations
In 2019, direct spending on leisure travel by domestic and international travelers was $792.4 billion.
(Source: U.S. Travel Association)
U.S. residents alone logged 1.9 billion person‐trips for leisure purposes in 2019.
(Source: U.S. Travel Association)
Naturally, this results in an avalanche of online reviews of travel experiences, both positive and negative. And since they are overwhelmingly customer-facing, firms in the leisure and hospital industry cannot afford to ignore this chatter.
SFMC enables travel and leisure brands to tune into and track these online conversations with ease. They can also get a fuller, more comprehensive understanding of what their customers expect and need, so they can proactively take steps to address those needs well before they become problems.
Furthermore, by understanding the patterns and trends in data, they can keep pace with what really matters to the modern consumer and design impressive solutions that guarantee their loyalty and ‘come back-ness’.
5. Quickly address customer queries and complaints to enhance customer service
For the leisure and hospitality industry, the ability to quickly resolve problems can be the difference between customer experience success and failure.
With SFMC, they can also access relevant information to provide guests (current and future) with the right answers to their queries or complaints before they can influence others and negatively affect the organization’s reputation or bottomline.
82% of customers believe that agents need to have the resources to resolve their issues.
With SFMC’s case management tools, they can access relevant customer and/or booking information quickly, refer issues to the right people to address them, and thus provide efficient and timely customer service at any moment in the process, and even before or after checkout.
In addition to the benefits already highlighted above, SFMC can help leisure and hospitality brands:
· Offset their (new) customer acquisition costs by increasing sales to existing customers
· Get a 360-degree view of the customer to close deals faster
· Increase their upsell and cross-sell opportunities
· Uncover referral business
The bottomline is that SFMC provides all the tools necessary to let customers know that they are valued – an effort that will pay off in loyalty and repeat business for hospitality/leisure firms over the long term.
Top 7 SFMC Tools for Leisure & Hospitality
Here is a quick overview of the Top 7 world-class tools that come with Salesforce Marketing Cloud that are perfect for leisure and hospitality brands:
1. Journey Builder
With this visual mapping solution, leisure/travel/hospitality brands can identify touchpoints and interactions to proactively respond to customers, develop personalized relationships with them at scale, and seamlessly manage the entire journey without hassle or unnecessary pain (to them or to the customer!).
2. Email Studio
Despite the rise in social media and search, Email Marketing continues to be a very effective means of strengthening customer relationships and building a brand’s long-term value.
With Email Studio’s powerful AI capabilities, leisure and hospitality brands can create smarter, more targeted and dynamic email campaigns to engage with customers individually and at every stage of their journey.
3. Mobile Studio
In the modern age where about 45% of the world’s population owns a Smartphone (Source: Bankmycell), Mobile Marketing provides a powerful means of reaching consumers who are ‘on-the-go’ – a description that perfectly describes patrons of the leisure, travel and hotel industry.
With Mobile Studio, marketers can easily reach their customers with personalized SMS marketing and push notifications to keep them engaged and happy with the brand.
4. Social Studio
Undoubtedly, Social Media is super powerful. With SFMC’s Social Studio, brands can analyze social media conversations, quickly tune into customer ‘sentiment’, and engage with their audience by responding to their posts and by providing effective customer service.
5. Advertising Studio
Personalization matters as much to advertising as it does to email, mobile and social marketing. SFMC’s Advertising Studio enables organizations in the leisure, travel and hotel space to harness available customer information to create personalized ads across search, social and display channels.
6. Interaction Studio
With Interaction Studio, marketers can easily visualize, track and micro-manage customer experiences and use this information to deliver relevant content that benefits customers at every stage of the journey.
7. Data Studio
“In God we trust, all others must bring data.”
–W. Edwards Deming
Discovering audiences at scale, acquiring relevant data about them and extracting useful insights from this data to take profitable actions – all of this is possible with SFMC’s Data Studio.
Salesforce Marketing Cloud can be customized to meet the needs of B2B, B2C and B2B2C models (all of which are quickly merging into one global marketplace), making it especially useful for the leisure, hospitality and travel industry.
With SFMC’s integrated marketing tools, firms in this sector can create and manage winning marketing campaigns. They can nurture customer relationships with the right message in the right tone delivered at the right time. And they can do all of this intelligently with the power of AI and Big Data capabilities in-built into SFMC.
This is why SFMC is the leading omni-channel marketing platform for leisure and hospitality.
The writing is on the wall – and for the best possible reasons!