Remember Blockbuster? Before Netflix decimated its
business model, Blockbuster was THE place for movie rentals and purchases. But,
customer demands changed and Blockbuster didn’t have the data or the digital wherewithal
The hospitality industry is having
its own Blockbuster moment right now.
Airbnb is quickly gobbling up market share, with more than 7 million listings worldwide in 100,000 cities and counting. The platform is growing rapidly, too - adding 14,000 new hosts every single month. So, it’s time for the hospitality industry to make some big decisions.
How can they compete with the
personalization, convenience, and cost-effective options provided by Airbnb? A strategic
plan – backed by data, automated processes, and personalized customer
experiences – is a solid start.
Customer Relationship Management
(CRM) solutions provide the foundation hospitality groups need to build better
experiences and use data to their advantage. You see, Airbnb is pulling in
massive quantities of data through booking, search inquiries, and reviews. To
beat them out, hospitality groups will need a fierce data strategy of their
own. Here are four ways hospitality can use CRM to beat out Airbnb.
#1 Control the Conversation
Do you buy something online without reading the reviews first? Neither do I, and neither do travelers looking for a hotel. Nearly 81% of people read reviews before making booking decisions, according to Hotel Business. Reviews are found on sites like TripAdvisor, or in the case of Airbnb, right on the host page.
But review sites aren’t the only place people are researching hospitality experiences. Social media also plays a major role. A recent survey looked at global data on hotel bookings and found that 73% of Millennials check a company’s social media page before they book. More than a third of those respondents also indicated that, if the hotel didn’t have a social presence, they would be deterred from booking altogether.
Hospitality groups monitoring reviews
and social media interactions should use CRM to centralize insights from those
Workflows can be created to notify
marketing when a new review or comment is made so they can respond quickly.
Metrics tied into the CRM data can be analyzed and reported on to uncover
trends and build more robust guest profiles.
Staying in tune with the
conversations happening on your social platforms helps you control the
conversation and shows your commitment to customer satisfaction. Aggregated
data from these interactions can reveal patterns that will help teams fine-tune
personalization as well, using customer feedback and social commentary to craft
new experiences or update an inconvenient process.
#2 Make it Easier to Book Services
One of the advantages that hotels have
over Airbnb is their services. While Airbnb’s may highlight privacy and
amenities like kitchens and yards, hotels offer services and experiences that
So, emphasize your strengths!
Use all the digital engagement
pathways available to you. Create an app where guests can easily book massages
at your spa or make dinner reservations at a nearby restaurant. Offer a 24 hour
chatbot that can answer customer questions and provide digital concierge
services. Use text messaging to check in with your guests and alert them to
hotel events like free happy hours.
All of these actions can be
facilitated and monitored through the CRM. And, best of all, all the data
around these actions is made visible to marketing, sales, front desk, and
service staff through their CRM access.
The data can inform marketing
strategy -- where are customers engaging most? It also helps teams profile
guest habits and preferences. Notice a couple is ordering room service a lot?
Upsell them with a romantic gourmet dinner on their balcony.
#3 Automate for Better Customer
One of the most powerful attributes
of hospitality CRM is its workflow and automation capabilities. Sales workflows
can be automated and timed to trigger actions when they make the most sense. As
a result, sales teams adopt a uniform process, so they never miss an
Automation also cuts down on manual
busy work while maintaining guest communication. Scheduled reminders and
automated invoicing/billing are convenient for guests and easily tracked by the
hotel through the CRM. Digital room keys that allow the guest to bypass the
front desk not only free up hotel staff, but also add a level of privacy that
the guest would experience at an Airbnb. A CRM tied to the automated solution
could trigger these digital keys to unlock at a specified check-in time.
Integrate an artificial intelligence
solution with your CRM to further exceed Airbnb’s customer experience. AI can automate
features like room temperature and opening and closing blinds at certain times
of day. Voice command can give guests the power to control all the audio and
visual aspects of their room. Every guest’s AI data can be integrated with the
CRM for more efficient data management and to help predict future customer
#4 Learn from Data to Personalize
Personalization builds loyalty and
differentiates your brand from Airbnb. Hospitality groups can leverage the
CRM’s predictive analytics to build guest profiles that supercharge the guest
Customer profiles not only inform the
preferences of returning guests, but also draw on historical trends to
anticipate the needs of new ones. This allows the hotel to better predict
preferences and serve up rates, room types, packages, and amenities that best match
the buyer persona.
Other Tips for Competing with Airbnb
How else can hotels compete with
Airbnb? Here are a few additional ideas to consider:
- Highlight Your Eco-Conscious Policies
Younger generations are influencing eco-consciousness across all industries. They want to engage with brands that share their values. If your hotel features eco-friendly amenities or practices, make sure your customers know about it. A CRM can facilitate some of those practices with digital invoicing.
- Emphasize Your Security
Airbnb’s don’t have a front desk or 24/7 security monitoring. For some guests, this could be a highly influential safety factor. Knowing the area is monitored and someone is available at any time of day is a comfort.
- Create Opportunities to Explore
Hotels can compete with Airbnb by putting together sponsored trips for travelers to explore the area. From pub crawls to museum adventures, the hotel can use the CRM automation to inform guests of these opportunities and make it convenient for them to participate.
Competing with Airbnb requires personalization,
data-backed initiatives, and convenience. Data is digital gold, and these days, you
can’t do business successfully without it. A CRM acts as a single source of
truth, aggregating data from across your organization. With accessibility in the
Cloud and through mobile apps, employees across locations can all benefit from
the information and insights it provides. The right software and the right
ideas can help hospitality outshine this digital giant and build a truly
delightful guest experience.