The importance of data for cross-selling in the hospitality industry

According to Peelen and Beltman (2013), cross-selling is the sales of a product or service to current customers who are already purchasing one or more products from a particular company. Different forms of cross-selling are identified, such as when customers buy one or more products during a contact, when customers buy a second or third product during a later contact, when customers buy another product within the same product range, or when customers expand the product they already bought by buying a product from another category. In the hospitality industry, cross-selling occurs when hotels sell their guests in-house services and products for example.

However, hotels are not very successful yet in cross-selling their guests services and products. According to research done by Travel Tripper, only 3% of the hotel guests book add-ons during their online booking process. On top of that, when customers are presented with too many options on products and services they can additionally book beside their hotel room, they might even abandon their entire booking (Lee, 2015). It seems that hotels still have a lot they can gain from cross-selling. So how can hotels successfully cross-sell their products and services to their customers?

The key to a successful cross-selling strategy for hotels is being there at the right place and at the right time for their guests. First, when looking at timing for cross-selling, customers are most receptive for cross-selling when they are in the phase of ‘pre-trip buzz’. When approaching customers during this phase, it is more likely that they purchase additional services or products from the hotel. Approaching customers can be done by sending them an email with offers (Lee, 2015).

However, the perfect timing will not immediately make cross-selling very successful for hotels. On top of that, it is vital for hotels that they appeal to their customers’ appeal to buy. This can only be done with offers that really speak to the customer; the offers need to compliment their original purchase and the offers need to fit the customer’s individual preferences. In order for hotels to be able to offer their customers personal offers, they need to know their customers. Hotels can only get to know their customers if they use data. Data will help hotels to get an insight into what their customers want (Subramanian, 2013).

So when hotels want to cross-sell products or services to their customers, it is crucial that their offers are well-timed and personalized. It is impossible for hotels to do this without analysing and using data.



Lee, J. (2015, August 10). Upselling & Cross-selling: The difference and why it matters. Retrieved October 02, 2016, from

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management (2nd edition).

Subramanian, R. (2013, March 8). Tips for Using Big Data to Optimize Upsell and Cross-Sell Strategies. Retrieved October 2, 2016, from

Physical and virtual management of contact satisfaction in the hospitality industry.

The hospitality industry has to deal with contact center management. This used to be the place where multiple phone calls came in, but currently this is a ‘hub’ for organisations to store all their contacts and use different channels to maintain relationships. So, nowadays managing contact has been done via the internet. But what are the differences between physical and virtually in managing contact satisfaction in the hospitality industry?

Managing contact satisfaction is very important by means of the hospitality industry is a service sector and has to be in contact with customers all the time. In the hospitality industry there are two contact moments which is physical and virtual. The most important by online or offline contact satisfaction is to identity the relationship between satisfaction and the final behavior of the guests, which is hard to manage.

Virtual contact satisfaction
Virtual contact satisfaction is creating customer and managing guest satisfaction through online channels. Hotels make use of multiple virtual tools, these are e-mail, chat or social media.

Social media is mainly used to show potential or existing customers quality photos of the hotels rooms and facilities. But, it also provides contact between the guest and organisation, as nowadays people make use of hashtags, check-ins, reviews or chat functions. There are hotels like Mariott which uses Facebook to communicate with their customers and Hyatt and Hilton are using Twitter to as virtual concierge service. Simple one way conversation of “Enjoy your stay”, can improve the contact satisfaction. (Time, 2016)

Nevertheless, although it is very convenient to use social media to communicate with customers it can also be seen as unprofessional, expensive and time consuming. Ones a company starts to use social media as a contact satisfaction tool, it is responsible to react on (most) of the comments, questions, feedback or complains. Otherwise the hotel does not keep up with competition and can lose potential clients.

Email is still used by many organisations, and is one of the most common tools to manage contact satisfaction. Email comes in handy, as it is quick, because an email is send in seconds, and it is still formal. Moreover, email function can work with an automatic e-mail response and work with forms. Which make it convenient as it is structured and can possibly work with drop down menu’s and background questions to identify the question even better. Also the costs for sending an email are very low. (Peelen & Beltman, 2013)

However, hotels need to keep in consideration that there are possible inconvenient situations. Which makes email as contact satisfactory not pleasant. First situation can be that the send email will occur at the outbound e-mail, so the customer will not be able to read the email. Second, ones an email is not clear or the consumer needs extra explanation, there can be a back and for email conversation. Last is that people do not like to read general information which is not personal.

Another option is the chat, which is not always preferred but used by few hotels. Guest love the chat function as it is quick, interactive, personal and they can formulate their questions briefly. But more important this is informal, so customers can communicate in ‘speaking language’.

But for hotels this is expensive to buy and it costs lots of time as there has to be somebody every minute of the day to answers possible questions.

Physical contact
Physical contact sounds very old fashioned compared to the virtual contact moments. But in contrary, physical contact is all about the customer expectation. For instance, back in the days guest who entered the hotel where happy receiving hallo and a smile. While, currently people want to be satisfied. A satisfied customer can be found by extending a late check-out or a customized menu.

It all starts with delivering the promise you made. As a company you have delivered an image, a feeling, a promise. You as company have to make sure this message/promise is delivered correctly to the guest. Be consistent in what you tell the guest, do not spill details about how luxurious the hotel is if the facilities are not all functioning accordingly.

One of the most important factors about physical contact is let the guests vent. When a customer has a negative experience or a ridiculous question, let them speak. Make it clear for them that they can let their frustrations go to you (so they will not go to someone else). Do not patronize the guest but be helpful and understanding. At the end sum up everything what happened and come up with a plan how to improve the current situation. (Belcher, 2016)

This needs great listening skills, speaking skills and solution skills. Which not every person possesses. Hotels should train their staff to be competent in these skills, not only physical but also virtual as this is very upcoming and required in the hotel industry.

Continue reading Physical and virtual management of contact satisfaction in the hospitality industry.

The cruise industry experiences a rise of complaints through digital arenas

Many customers complain in order to express their dissatisfaction or vent a frustration about a particular event or product. Homans (1961) state that individuals share information because they expect to get something in return. The expected return could be financial, materialistic, emotional comfort, or social rewards (Rui et al., 2014). In general, people simply tend to write a negative comment rather than a positive one as they already payed for having a “good experience”, unless the trip was way better than expected.

Complainers can be perceived as annoying but actually the dangerous clients are those who quietly dump the company and do only engage through negative word of mouth with a third party. The research firm ‘TARP’ says that for every person who complains, there are 26 who do not, which can end up in further consequences. How can a business know that someone was not happy if he or she doesn’t express that? Hearing the voice of dissatisfied customers can offer potential benefits to the firm by touching problematic areas and turn it into gold dust by using it as a basis for improvement.

Cyberspace seems to foster the online disinhibition effect where consumers “loosen up, feel more uninhibited, express themselves more openly” (Suler 2004, p. 321). The online world gives consumers the possibility to spread negative words without revealing their identity. CruiseReport, TripAdvisor, ConsumerAffairs are some examples of highly used websites with reviews on cruises, which became a great resource during the shopping process. Complaints through electronic media such as the Internet have increased dramatically and will most likely continue to do so in the future (Tripp and Gregoire 2011; Strauss and Seidel 2004).

Social media are a phenomenon where individuals share opinions about products in a group atmosphere (Bacile, Hoffacker, & White, 2014). Once a consumer posts a comment on social media, the information spreads to others, and users form opinions (Bacile, Hoffacker, and White, 2014). Facebook and other social media sites add another layer of complexity to the complaint management and resolution process; the potential impact of electronic word-of-mouth is enormous, with an average of “3.2 billion Likes and Comments generated by Facebook users per day during the first quarter of 2012” (Facebook 2012).  […] Consumers are able to influence literally thousands of purchase decisions with a few sentences posted online (Mangold and Smith 2012, p. 150).

Nowadays people feel the need to first look for reviews upon a certain product, brand or company. Consumers find reading product reviews valuable and credible in decision making (Hong & Park, 2012). Yet, it shouldn’t all be taken too seriously as a review is just a snapshot of time and every person has different needs and wants, emotions, expectation, within a different environment going on the cruise. Chris Dikmen (2015) states that even the weather and sea conditions can impact a guest’s impressions. Moreover cruise ships are very dynamic and change the guest mix and crew members from time to time. One should always consider the credibility of a reviewer and question its objectivity.

Unfortunately, complaints can cause major public crises that need to be carefully managed by the company (Laufer, 2010; Laufer & Coombs, 2006). Not handling the situation right can conclude in losing customers and gives competitors the opportunity to steel them from you. A cross-industry study revealed that 88% of consumers are less likely to buy from a company that ignores online customer complaints (Drennan, 2011). Additionally, consumers feel unimportant when negative comments are not responded to (Dekay, 2012). From another perspective: firms should defend themselves.

Brands should directly dive into the conversation and waste no time. By proving you are dedicated to address the issue, you are able to win their trust again (TheSocialHabit, 2014). Dekay (2012) found that marketers should post fun messages integrated with the marketing message to ensure there is a minimal amount of negative feedback. Furthermore communication should be done with a certain level of empathy and concern. The company should always be honest with credible sources; otherwise it looks like there is something to hide. To protect information from being misinterpret and losing the focus, it is advisable to only have one platform on which all the complaints will be responded to. Last, reacting aggressively is absolutely not done.

Overall, the existence of consumer and professional reviews helps to improve the quality of the cruise industry. Social media provide a way for organizations and consumers to build a stronger relationship with the opportunity of self-expression (Alamaddine, 2013).


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Listening to customer feedback is key to continuous improvement in the cruise industry

Feedback is crucial when controlling and measuring performance. Without truly listening to customer’s feedback, one will not be able to make the best or strategic decisions. According to Normann (2002) companies need to build strong customer relationships by listening to and acknowledging customer’s wants and needs.

To know what customers are thinking, ask them (Ben McConnell says).  Therefore, companies need to understand that it is all about reaching out in order to get an insight about how they really feel and what they think that could or should be improved.

Customer feedback can be obtained in many different ways, such as through surveys, focus groups, one on one conversations, observations, points of sale, E-mail and so on.  Another popular approach at the moment is a digital feedback screen in a certain public building, where guests can mention how they have experienced the service. There is no such thing as the “perfect method” but it is certain that with online tools as social media it is easier than ever.

By choosing a good feedback method in the cruise industry, age plays a major role. The older generation is unlikely to all have an email address, which is why several methods are automatically excluded. On the other hand, Fielding (2012) states that 86% of 55+ are now said to shop online regularly and while this does not necessarily mean they would prefer to complete an e-survey to a paper based survey it does demonstrate they are not necessarily technophobes. Yet, the gap between 55+ and 70+ is actually too big to make conclusions on.

Cruise companies suggest using electronic surveys rather than paper based and encourage effective customer feedback systems. To provide cruise companies with a high response rate, there are countless of those available on the internet. Many perceive this as the most logic approach. Objectives of implementing the electronic format are to become more environmentally friendly, to expand the survey only when the customer is willing to give more feedback and to capture detailed experience of the embarkation and disembarkation (Princess Cruises, 2010).

Luckily customers recognize the importance of giving feedback to a company. Nevertheless, many agree that questionnaires tend to be too long and are often distributed at an inappropriate time. The message when asking your customers for their input sends a powerful message in and of itself (Eric Engwall). Besides the opportunity to improve a product or service, it can also increase customer satisfaction, and retention. Customer feedback is a key driver of change and a rich source of market intelligence (Donovan & Samler, 1994). So, take advantage of it and turn feedgack into gold dust!


Beard, R. (2014, December 18). The simplest and most accurate way to measure customer satisfaction with client heartbeat. Retrieved October 2, 2016, from

Gibson, P., & Di Dino, F. (2012). Customer feedback systems onboard cruise ships. In Cruise Tourism and Society (pp. 101–114).

Khriyenko, O. (2015). Customer feedback system – evolution towards semantically-enhanced systems.Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Web Information Systems and Technologies.

Papathanassis, A., Lukovic, T., & Vogel, M. (2012). Cruise tourism and society: A Socio-economic perspective. Retrieved October 1, 2016, from

No customer within the cruise industry is the same and they should therefore all be valued differently

Customer value can be interpreted in different ways. The customer’s point of view refers to their desired value in a product or service, and its perceived value, which is the benefit a customer actually received after it was purchased. The industry’s point of view, on the other hand, is about how much a company values its customers. Conceptually, the value of a firm’s customer base is the sum of the lifetime value of its current and future customers (Gupta, Lehmann, & Stuart, 2004). These two are closely related; if you value a customer in the right way, that person will probably also value the product more. Therefore, customer satisfaction is partly achieved by giving them honest attention and appropriate service.

Yet, according to Reaves, defining your customers by being satisfied or dissatisfied is not enough. He believes there are six types of customers: the ‘endorsers’, who tell other people about your company in a positive way – the ‘buyers’, who will probably keep buying from you, but no longer endorses the business – the ‘satisfied mutes’, who are quite and ok with how the business is doing – the ‘dissatisfied mutes’, who aren’t that positive anymore – the ‘Grumblers’, those who perceive everything you do as wrong because they have already experienced too many negative incidents. Last, the ‘complainers’: telling everyone how bad your company is.

Which group of customers deserves most value? Or better, which group needs the most value in order not to lose them? Reaves states that the endorsers need to be capitalized on as they are the best customers and they should stay that way. The dissatisfied mutes and grumblers have lost faith in the product and the industry should stop them from moving to business elsewhere. The complainers are deadly for the company and there are many positive incidents necessary to satisfy them again. Looking to the customer pyramid, these customers can be called ‘Lead’ or ‘Iron’ from the least profitable part. Are they worth all the time and money?

All customers have their own unique set of needs, desires, experiences and expectations and it is difficult to focus on all of them. In the cruise industry there are many customers nowadays that want a more unique and special experience with extra good attention, known as a premium experience, and they are willing to pay more for it. If the business values these customers more, the relationship and bond between them will get stronger. As well it could come with customer loyalty and eventually benefit with an increasement in sales and profitability. Customers can demonstrate loyalty to price, brand, company, and other customers (Zikmund, 2002). Those customers, that are most profitable are called ‘Platinum’ because they spend more and will probably also spread a positive word of mouth. They do cost a lot of time to maintain but in the end it will all be worth it for the cruise industry.


Figure 6.4 Zeithami, V., Bitner, M. J., & Gemier, D.  (2012) The Customer Pyramid

Gupta, S., Lehmann, D., & Stuart, J. A. (2004). Valuing Customers. Journal of Marketing Research,41(1), 7–18.

Magatef, S. G., & Tomalieh, E. F. (n.d.). The Impact of Customer Loyalty Programs on Customer Retention. International Journal of Business and Social Science6(8),

Peelen, E. and Beltman, R. (2013) Customer Relationship Management. 2nd edn. Pearson Education Limited.

Reaves, ????  – Six Types of Customers

Zeithami, V., Bitner, M. J., & Gremier, D. (2012). The Customer Pyramid. Services marketing: Integrating customer focus accross the firm (6th ed.). McGraw-Hill / Irwin. (Figure 6.4)


How important is customer knowledge to provide great customer experiences in the cruise industry?

Knowing your potential customer is of major importance as it gives businesses the opportunity to approach them in the right way; with the right offer at the right time. Having a good customer database increases the response rate, the effectiveness of acquisition, customer retention and could make it easier to develop a relationship (Peelen and Beltman, 2013). Therefore, information about the customer is a deciding aspect of Customer Relation Management. Without this knowledge, the relationship will lack substance, customisation and focused communication based on customer profiles will be impossible.

At the core of any good customer experience is knowledge. This means that any effective customer experience strategy will focus on facilitating the fast, consistent, and accurate delivery of knowledge where and when it is needed (Oracle, 2012). Designing such resources costs money and time, and needs continuously investments. It is a complicated process and many problems can occur, such as  too many data with no value, or employees with no access to the information they are seeking.

The cruise industry has known a dramatic growth and is still rapidly growing. This mainly happened because of growth strategies, new ships, more local ports, more destinations and on board activities matching the demand of consumers. Nowadays it can be said that the ship is the destination. They offer designer shops and Broadway productions, to golf courses, water slides an bumper cars, delicious food and exceptional service. In these times of high competition, one can make a difference by offering a unique customer experience, and exceeding customer’s expectations. Therefore the cruise industry does extensive customer research in order to be able to satisfy all of their clients. It has shown that the desire for luxury continues to grow, and more and more young people are interested in going on a cruise. Cruise companies are now designing to satisfy every age, and to appeal and customize all cultures. Customisation has become possible and staff tries to engage connect with people, as an individual, and how that particular customer wants to be treated. Other aspects that help to satisfy customers are the way staff handles complaints, and the speed of doing this. As well their attitude is of major importance.

If you want to develop a bond with a customer, you must be  interested in the story behind the event and person (Magazine for Marketing, 2001) Yet, in order to make conclusions, they should understand the environment in which that customer operates, as human behaviour is often context driven. A previous survey has revealed that some biggest-spending customers wanted a more premium experience, and were willing to pay for it. The industry could focus on giving them what they want, but should find a balance with the those who do not like to spend that much.


Customers knowledge is necessary to provide a good customer experience, and customer Experience is key to lasting success.

Peelen, E. and Beltman, R. (2013) Customer Relationship Management. 2nd edn. Pearson Education Limited. (Customer Knowledge Strategy, pp. 93-116)

Huizingh, K. R. E. (2001). Customer Knowledge: the story behind the data. Tijdschrift voor marketing (CRM Illustration, pp. 102)

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How Marriott uses virtual reality to engage their customers in their online brand community

Virtual reality makes it possible for people to explore computer generated virtual environments and to also interact in those environments by only using a headset. The virtual reality technology artificially creates sensory experiences, which make it seem that as if that person is really present in that environment (Virtual Reality Society, 2016). Virtual reality technology’s popularity is expanding and its potential for marketing is also getting recognized increasingly. Since the travel industry is all about selling experiences, virtual reality can be particularly influential.

Even though it is very likely that virtual reality headsets will be as essential to people in the future as smartphones are now, businesses are still struggling on how to use virtual reality to their advantage in their marketing. When looking at how brands in the travel industry implement virtual reality in their marketing strategies, one hotel brand in particular stands out.

In collaboration with Samsung Gear VR, Marriott has launched several virtual reality initiatives. Their Teleporter program in 2014 was a pilot where they used virtual reality so that people could experience their hotels in Hawaii and London. After that, they launched the VR Postcards. VR Postcards followed travellers on trips to for example Chile, Rwanda, and China, and enables guests to experience those destinations for themselves through a headset. These virtual reality programs can be found on Marriott’s Travel Brilliantly website. This website is an online brand community and co-creation platform where Marriott’s guests can share their ideas that help Marriott to create new experiences (Marriott News Center, 2015).

As Peelen and Beltman (2013) argue, it is very important for brands to provide interesting and engaging content and media that people will connect with and engage in on the social web. Virtual brand communities are a very suitable platform for this; customers can co-construct their own experience, find information, actively debate ideas, provide solutions, and contribute their opinions on these communities (Martínez-López et al., 2016). This is exactly what Marriott does cleverly with their Travel Brilliantly brand community and their virtual reality programs. They make the ‘Marriott experience’ more individual and also easier accessible. Through virtual reality, people will get a better idea about what their holiday experience will be like. These people then share their own personal stories on the Travel Brilliantly platform.

Marriott’s Travel Brilliantly and virtual reality initiatives give Marriott’s customers the opportunity to experience a holiday through virtual reality and to create content with their own perspective to branding experiences. This integration of brand experience and marketing content on their online brand community can be an example for many businesses on how to use virtual reality in the future to engage their customers.



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Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management (2nd edition).

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