Their Most Profitable Asset: How They Get the Best
Return on Their Known Customers
|January 2004 - When it comes to building on what appears to be a sustained,
though slow, US economic recovery, hoteliers face a tough challenge in
attracting what growth in customer expenditure there is. What are
the latest tools and trends available to hotels to maximize the valuable
commodity of the repeat guest, and what can you do to make sure you get
more than your fair share?
Hotel operators invest in renovations, new technology, staff training and other aspects of their business for one reason: to gain and sustain growth. They spend money on initiatives like this, as all businesses do, when they are either doing especially well or when they are doing so badly they know they have to change for the better. So with recovery in many areas of the country now being seen, hotels have to consider how best to increase their competitive advantage.
Many are turning to investment in technology, but not in the traditional way.
Many non-flagged hotels are considering the complete change over of Property Management Systems (PMS) in order to gain access to, and report on, their customer history data. While most PMS offer functionality to help staff recognize past guests, many offer only limited reporting or data warehousing-type analyses. Considering it a reasonable undertaking to completely change out their PMS, some hotels have invested hugely in new systems, hardware and training and only then realized the high cost of such change.
What are hotels really trying to achieve by such a change? In many instances, it is legitimate to change PMS after some years as new functionality becomes widely available in the market and hotels will get left behind without such things as online, seamless web reservations, for instance. However, another important motivator for change is accessibility to data itself.
Several users of what could be termed ‘legacy PMS’ – those old stalwarts, often character based PMS – that are as loved and appreciated as a favored item of clothing, do not want a complete change.
However, they know they need to do something to focus marketing effort at the repeat customer. In order to devote what marketing dollars are available on the best target, hotels need to consider options for extracting this data. These tools, often referred to as business intelligence, have a clear cost of purchase and ownership and therefore have an ROI that can be easily calculated.
Investing in a business intelligence tool, such as ImagInn Search from Ramesys (better known mainly as a PMS vendor) has allowed users of their ImagInn Platinum PMS software to extend the shelf life of their IT with a relatively small additional investment. ImagInn PMS, being used at nearly 2,000 locations in the US, is successful at processing reservations, check-ins/check-outs and large numbers of interfaces, but nowadays customers want more reporting and drill down capability.
ImagInn Search is a property level module that can be superimposed on the PMS to deliver a diversity of reporting, and reporting capability, to long-standing customers who have no need to replace their trusted PMS. However, they all want improved access to data to get to know their own customers better.
Some hotels now use ‘Search’ to produce e-mail ‘thank you’ notes that are sent to customers after check out through the mail merge functions of their word processor. This courtesy note can be further extended to provide the latest news or information about a hotel, or, in many cases, offer an incentive to attract the customer back, such as a frequent guest club or access to preferential rates on the hotel’s website.
ImagInn Search captures information already stored in the ImagInn PMS, making the process of preparing the end of month reports nearly effortless.
Since its launch in spring 2003, ImagInn Search has been helping PMS customers tap into their own local knowledgebase of customer profiles, spending habits and preferences: a knowledgebase previously unimaginable, but now providing highly sought after, and profitable, results.
About Ramesys Hospitality (www.us.ramesys.com)
Ramesys, South Plainfield, NJ, focuses on providing high-quality solutions to the hospitality industry. Delivering solutions to the hotel industry for over 20 years, Ramesys has systems installed in over 4,000 hotels worldwide.
Ramesys has annual revenues around $100m, supports over 8,000 customers in 16 countries and employs over 700 members of staff.
1 Cragwood Road, Suite 202
South Plainfield, New Jersey 07080
Tel: 908 941 1300
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