Frustrations of personal selling and the connection with engagement arenas

Personal selling is a promotional method in which a supplier or an organisation uses skills and techniques to build a personal relationship with the consumers during the sales process.  The main types of sales processes are; transaction (customer buys exactly what he wants), consultative (customer seeks for available alternatives) and strategic (customer is interested in the product as well as skills of supplier) sales processes. On the other hand, engagement arenas are platforms where the company establishes relationship with the customer. However the mind boggling question is; how is personal selling combined with the modern digitized engagement arenas in the hotel industry?

First of all, frustrations will arise if a sales agent who excels in transactional sales is put in charge of the consultative sales process and vice versa (Beltman, R., & Peelen, E. (2013). The good thing is that now a days a lot of industries are aware of the sales processes and therefore makes good use of it.

For instance when you take a look at the fast food industries such as McDonalds, KFC, Burger King, Star bucks Etc., they sell something more than food. They sell satisfaction, an added value which the customer seeks during the sales process. A typical example is by Coca-Cola who showed personal selling through their wide varieties of Coca-Cola brands (Sprite, Schweppes, Fanta, Coke etc.). They gained mass consumption through both online and offline advertisements, by combining personal selling and online digitization as a good engagement technique to increase sales. They created an online website called buy.shareacoke.com where potential visitors can buy their customized coco-cola brands and have it delivered to their homes, weddings, birthdays or any events. This is indeed a unique way of selling and we can relate it to both transactional sales and strategic sales process. They also have a login menu which means they are also engaged with the customer and the customer can return to do more orders via the website in future.

Furthermore, nowadays a lot of industries are also creating similar websites where you can customize your own food, drinks, clothes, gadgets etc. however, it is very rare that many hotel industries do this. What most hotel industries do is that, they create a hotel app where visitors can order for food or drinks to be served to their room. This shows an example of engagement techniques used in the hotel industries.  These days the internet of things (IoT) has affected the consumer journey to the point that before the end of 2024, the customer’s journey from home to the hotel will be digitized (Skyscanner, 2016).

Therefore it is necessary that hotels can combine an online engagement arena with the personal selling so that they will not only be moving ahead with the future trends but also get rid of the unpleasant frustrations during the sales process.

 

References:

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. Edinburgh Gate: Pearson Education Limited

Skyscanner (2016) .The future of Travel 2024. Retrieved on 28th September, 2016 from http://www.skyscanner2024.com/part1.php

The Coca-Cola Company (2016). Share a coke: Customize your 8oz glass coke bottles. Retrieved on 11th October, 2016 from https://buy.shareacoke.com/

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Customer profiling in the hospitality industry: a key to establishing a lifelong relationship with the customer

The most difficult thing about maintaining a lifelong relationship with the customer based on loyalty and trust is by first compiling the correct information about the customer. Most organisations know this process as “the big data”.  Furthermore, it just doesn’t end by having the big data, it goes further than that. “Typical of these customer data is that they are used by the entire organisation and therefore form part of the infrastructure of the company” (Beltman, R., & Peelen, E. (2013).

As already mentioned above, customer profiling is the best way if an organisation wants to know more about their clients, for a lifelong relationship.  On the other hand, it can be entirely ruining for the organisation if the data gets mixed up. Imagine a regular guest books a hotel online, receives the confirmation and everything but on the day of arrival the receptionist assign him to the wrong room because they had mixed up his last name with another client’s? The company can either loose the customer (because he is likely not going to book with the hotel anymore), or he might also give a bad review about it and not recommend it to any of his friends/family.

It is always good to ensure that as an organisation, you have a quality customer database for a good customer profiling. Quality customer database involves; current, complete, correct and unique data (Beltman, R., & Peelen, E. (2013)).

Another good example of ensuring the quality of a customer database is related to newsletters. A hotel once sent a newsletter to a German speaking author concerning special offers for loyal customers. The problem about this newsletter was that it was completely in English. The other thing was that it was also meant for loyal customers however, this German author had not stay in any of the group’s hotel for so many years (Michael Toedt, (2013)). Hence this means the hotel didn’t do their homework at all. They didn’t update their customer profile with the current, complete and unique data for the German author.

Sometimes when the data is not enough to complete the customer’s profile, companies buy extra data from external suppliers (Beltman, R., & Peelen, E. (2013)). However it is good if as a company you compile your own customer database based on their past histories with your company. Hilton compile their customer profile based on an IT system “OnQ” which they created since the year 2002. “The information used by this system helps front desk to access of 180million records and get the answer right away” (LinkedIn Corporation, 2016). The OnQ helps them to give better customer service, gives the employee better idea about the customer, facilitates in critical recoveries, availability of customer history, match customer reservations to their tastes and preferences and lastly helps in paying extra attention to VIP’s (LinkedIn Corporation, 2016).

Overall, customer profiling is very important to the hospitality industry for the above reasons.

 

 

 

Reference:

Michael Toedt (2013). Big Data; Challenges for Hospitality Industry. 2nd edition

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. Edinburgh Gate: Pearson Education Limited.

LinkedIn Corporation (2016). Hilton OnQ System. Retrieved on 2nd October, 2016 from http://www.slideshare.net/vibhavk1991/hilton-37396577

Efficiently showing empathy in consumers’ desperate moments

nytimes-com

Source: nytimes.com

The question is how many companies in the hospitality industry are dynamic enough to be Omni-present during certain life events of consumers? As a company, it is necessary to be fast in your approach and move exactly in the direction of accommodating consumers’ needs and preferences. For instance, it is very important as a company to plan and prepare for changes that occasionally occur in the life of every consumer. These may include airport crises, death of spouse, change in financial state, pregnancy, vacation, Christmas, graduation and many more (Beltman, R., & Peelen, E. (2013).

According to the flandersnews.be (2016), the unfortunate twin terror attack at Brussels airport and metro station left many stranded and homeless. “With Brussels Airport closed for a second day Wednesday many people are stranded in Brussels.  Hotels in the Belgian capital are offering rooms free of charge to stranded visitors and commuters” (Flandersnews.be (2016)). This shows a good example of dynamism and being Omni-present.

However, after a terrible crisis such as a terrorist attack, offering free accommodation alone won’t erase the drastic event from the travellers’ memory. His decision to travel again next time via the same means/airport will immediately decrease and this will reduce sales for the industry. A good example is the Paris attack which according to IBT (2016) caused a rapid reduction in hotel bookings in Paris. “The city consequently saw luxury hotel bookings drop by 50 percent and experienced a 30 percent drop in hotel bookings overall”, according to ITB (2016).

Nevertheless at the end of the day, life must still go on. There are many people getting married, being pregnant, graduating, going on vacations, preparing for Christmas and new year celebrations therefore as a hospitality industry, it is necessary to be there for these life events as well.

dhgate-com theodysseyonline-com

Source: dhgate.com                     Source: theodysseyonline.com

Hotels must think like the consumers. Immediately the crises is over, they must think of their next move to win back more customers once again.  Therefore in this case, offering sales reduction or discounts after a rapid drop in hotel bookings would rather cause the company more money. Hence a possible solution would be maybe to offer extra individual added value to every luxury booking. Example, a personal butler who will assist the couples/family with everything they need during their stay at the hotel and/or a promise to give them free discounts on their next bookings.

Some of the things other hotels do include change the architectural design of the hotel, building new technologies and inviting random people to come try it out for free or at discounts (such as “Connie” the robot concierge at the Hilton hotel, who offers advice on best restaurants and attractions nearby), or improve their customer service by engaging more with the consumers.

Overall, more people will continue to travel and rent more hotels by the upcoming years however it is necessary that hotels  improve their standards to show massive interest in the life events of these consumers.

 

References:

Flandersnews.be (2016). Faces put to Zaventem terrorist suspects. Retrieved on 22nd September, 2016 from http://deredactie.be/cm/vrtnieuws.english/News/1.2608743

International Business Times (2016). Belgium Tourism Economy 2016: After Brussels Terror Attacks, Will City Struggle To Draw Tourists? Retrieved on 22nd September from http://www.ibtimes.com/belgium-tourism-economy-2016-after-brussels-terror-attacks-will-city-struggle-draw-2341084

Ars Technica (2016). IBM Watson now powers a Hilton hotel robot concierge. Retrieved on 24th September from http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016/03/ibm-watson-hilton-robot-connie/

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

 

Customer relation management to increase sales in hotel industry

The Hospitality industry which is also in the service industry has grown rapidly over the years. For decades now, the hotel industry which started with the possibility of booking only through travel agents and tour operators has now developed into a self-management industry. Where they have personal contact with their clients through direct online marketing. The hotel industry now tries to focus in the direction of upcoming technological trends where “internet of Things” (IOT) is more introduced into the hotel industry. For instance, most of the hotels have self-opening doors, self-flashing toilets, robots to welcome clients and many others all in cooperated into their services to make their clients have a comfortable stay. Clients can also check in directly from the hotel’s website and prearrange all the necessary things so by the time they arrive at the hotel, their rooms and everything they had requested would be available to them. Building customer relationship is very important to them. They therefore introduce customer loyalty programs where maybe the client gets a point for every booking they do. In the end, they receive a reward for all the points they have. However, not all hotels use this method, some hotels have different loyalty programs. “Researchers have shown that a 5 per cent increase in customer loyalty can produce a profit increase of 25 per cent to 85 per cent” (Reichheld and Sasser, 1990).

It is important to set three value disciplines of customer relation management (CRM) for your company. According to Treacy and Wiersema (1996), the values disciplines are Operational excellence, product leadership and customer intimacy. Which in this case both Operational excellence and Product leadership concerns ways by which the industry or organisation can gain new customers. It involves the process whereby the company tries to distinguish themselves from their competitors through pricing, quality, new and best products in the case of gaining new customers. On the other hand, customer intimacy is how to maintain customers. It involves the processes whereby a company offers total solutions and assistance to customers.

Therefore to apply these values to hotel industry, we can classify them into two strategic roles such as offensive and defensive strategies. Where offensive strategy focuses on gaining new customers and defensive strategy focuses on maintaining customers (Beltman, R., & Peelen, E. (2013)). In other to maintain customers it is good to increase customer satisfaction, have a customer centric approach (customer is king) and offer additional value to the clients. For instance, when guests check in a hotel, the receptionists immediately welcome the guests by their name and offer them a personal butler to assist the guests with all their needs. In the end, the guest leave feeling satisfied, write good reviews about the hotel and even recommend the hotel to other friends or family.

In conclusion, if hotels focus on being customer centric organisations and offer added value services to customers they will increase sales on their website.

References;

Beltman, R., & Peelen, E. (2013) Customer Relationship Management(2nd ed.). Edinburgh, United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited.

Reichheld, F.F. (1996) The Loyalty Effect, New York: The Free Press,.