Healthy guest data is the foundation of a great guest experience. Without it, lodging operators can’t know their guests and give them what they want. But it isn’t enough to collect data, you need to manage and maintain that data to use it effectively.
When your guest database is managed well, it allows you to personalize guest communications, the in-stay experience, and marketing campaigns to drive guest engagement and satisfaction—and revenue too.
Your property management system (PMS) should automatically create a guest profile whenever a booking is made for a new guest. It should also allow you to create profiles for customers that haven’t yet booked. (If your PMS doesn’t have either of these functions, it’s time to look for one that does.) But it doesn’t end there.
Follow these tips to maintain a strong guest database that powers the kind of customer service that grows loyalty and revenue.
1. Get the information you need.
Collecting guest contact information—including email addresses—is essential for building loyalty through pre-arrival, in-stay and post-stay communications. Make sure both your online booking engine and front desk staff capture this critical data.
Set your booking engine to require guest contact information via compulsory form fields—including full address, email address, phone number, mobile phone, etc.—for both online bookings and reservations processed by your front desk agents, to ensure guest profiles are created with the information you need.
Also ensure your online booking engine integrates with your property management system so that online bookings are automatically updated in the PMS. This eliminates the need for staff to double-handle reservation data and risk entering something wrong!
For bookings coming through OTA (online travel agency) partners that may not provide guest email addresses, train your front desk agents to ask for an email address upon check-in. That way, you can reach out to guests after their stay to foster loyalty—and convince them to book direct with you next time.
It doesn’t hurt to confirm guests’ email addresses when they return either. Guests are usually happy to comply when they know they will receive communications that are valuable to them.
2. Record guest preferences.
Supercharge guest profiles by recording additional information that helps personalize the guest experience. Making note of guests’ preferences, special requests, interests, anniversaries and allergies, for example, helps to better inform staff so that they can tailor highly personalized and proactive service.
A good PMS automatically saves certain information entered into the booking form to the guest profile (such as dietary restrictions and other notes about the guest) and should allow you to add information to guest profiles manually too.
Valuable information can be gathered at various touchpoints. Ask for further information (dietary requirements, special requests, reason for travel, etc.) and offer relevant add-ons within your online booking engine, in pre-arrival emails, and upon check-in. During the guest’s stay, staff should be encouraged to record any helpful information they may learn about the guest during interactions with them, such as their request for extra pillows or their love of your signature banana caramel muffins. Pay attention to feedback and reviews to find out what guests liked and didn’t like.
The richer your guest profiles are, the better you can know your guests to personalize service during their stay and deliver targeted offers that increase guest engagement and loyalty—and your property’s revenue.
Pro tip: Take advantage of the powerful profiling capabilities of CRM software to drive highly targeted marketing campaigns and personalized messaging for every guest. When integrated with a CRM, your PMS automatically sends live reservation data to the CRM, which uses it to build complete guest profiles and automatically trigger guest communications and offers at the right time.
3. Clean up duplicate profiles.
Duplicate profiles are bound to happen due to typos and oversights, but you should do your best to avoid them. Duplicate profiles prevent you from getting to know your guest, resulting in multiple incomplete profiles that don’t give you a whole picture of the guest’s stay history, etc.
Train front desk staff to check for an existing guest profile every time they take a booking. This is usually as simple as entering the guest’s name into the booking form to prompt a profile search. When it comes to online bookings through your property’s website, set your online booking engine to allow repeat guests to use their existing profile by logging in with their name and birthdate, for example. Using existing guest profiles is not only important for gaining a complete stay history for every guest but is crucial for loyalty initiatives too.
When you do come across duplicate profiles, use your system’s merge feature to merge duplicate data into the selected master profile.
Incomplete, messy data is no good to anyone. Follow the above tips to build a strong, healthy guest database you can actually use to personalize every guest experience, build customer loyalty and drive more revenue. It’s a game changer!