"The customer comes first!” is an adage as old as customer service itself, and one that keeps gaining in importance along with the ever-growing digitalization. New possibilities and the sheer multitude of digital channels require radical changes in our communications strategies.
A trip, be it for business or pleasure, consists of four phases: planning, booking, the trip itself and finally the sharing of the experience. In marketing, this entire process is called Customer Journey. The term describes the path from first idea until later reflection of the journey, and details the touch-points with the destination the customer comes across during his decision process. It should be the goal of any hotel to create an emotional bond with its guests even at the start of their journey through the web. From inspiration and arousing of interest to the actual booking process - the challenge is to design each touch-point with your brand in a manner that feels perfect for your guest, for that is your only way of winning a customer.
Customer Journey Management as a Key Lever for successful Marketing
The approach is not entirely new. Customer Experience Management as a concept was first mentioned in 1998 (Pine/Gilmore (1998): Harvard Business Review). "It is a cycle comprising different elements that are made available to a guest online. The elements depend on the user’s behavior and the purpose of his current journey,” explains Dr. Peter Agel, Senior Vice President Strategic Customer Relationships – Europe, Africa & Middle East with Oracle Hospitality.
Each touch-point not only contributes to the hotel’s brand, but also supports the guest’s decision-making and transaction process before, during and after the trip and thereby offers considerable added value for both sides. Guests may choose from a number of different ways to book a trip. They often make use of social network sites for planning a pleasure trip, but prefer search engines for business trips. But no matter the channel used or the guest’s intention when contacting a hotel – guests must be picked up and won over at every single touch-point. Once a customer has made his reservation, the hotel can begin to respond to his needs. Requirements and offered services are very different for a family or a businessman travelling on his own. A newsletter sent before arrival can promote sports or leisure activities, complemented by attractive package deals or coupons. A family with small children will be happy to find a baby-sitting service available, a business traveler will want to use a laptop or other gadgets for work or entertainment is his room, may need a quick airport transfer or online check-in and check-out.
Away from the product – towards a solution
Today we can analyze guests' behavior and preferences with the help of targeted, collected data and successfully use the knowledge gained for guests and hotel.
"At a time we only thought about the product when developing our solutions. Today, interaction with the guest is at the core of our efforts. That way we do not simply offer IT solutions, but also vital services that connect guests with hotels, such as mobile websites, apps or e-commerce concepts,” Agel illustrates.
Oracle Hospitality accompanies your guests
Oracle Hospitality provides every tool required for reliable Customer Journey Management. The interfaces between website and booking engine form the basis. Multiple add-on modules for Oracle Hospitality OPERA and Oracle Hospitality Suite8 offer communication with guests and between POS and PMS. Hotels have the option of managing several bonus schemes and loyalty cards within one system. Oracle Hospitality Gift and Loyalty Tracking is an invaluable tool for managing customer loyalty.
Oracle Hospitality Web Proposal is an online solution for event management. In addition to booking requests and planning of conferences and catering, it allows you to link customer profiles with an event, making it possible to accompany event guests on their entire journey.
After their stay, guests may receive additional information about hotel news or a link to current online special offers. At the same time, a small thank you or token of appreciation can be offered to encourage guests to leave feedback. That way, the Customer Journey will end with positive feelings and emotions. When guests share their experiences with their community, their friends will surely take note of the hotel and may even book their own trip there – making for a classic win-win situation for all sides.