How Data Can Bridge the Gap Between Technology and Operations

July 21, 2022

Christian Arias

The friction that occurs between operations teams (front desk, sales, marketing) and IT or technology teams is one of the biggest challenges in every industry, and proves particularly challenging in the hotel business. Frequently, it’s the need for clean and actionable data that drives this point of contention.

A centralized data management strategy that truly assists both business and IT teams needs to take into account the vastly different roles and responsibilities of each. First, there are the core concerns of the IT team and its CIO:

  • Implementing the company’s technology
  • Defining and maintaining the company’s technical architecture
  • Implementing system upgrades when needed
  • Adhering to the latest data privacy regulations and maintaining system security best practices

On the other hand, the hotel marketing team, and its CMO, have a different list of objectives, such as:

  • Brand positioning
  • Content marketing
  • Messaging strategy
  • Driving customer acquisition, engagement and retention

The place where these two very different job descriptions often intersect – and a common point of frustration – is the hotel’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool, or lack thereof. Hotel companies need a solution that not only offers the clean data and robust feature set marketers require; they also need data sharing to be secure, dependable, and easy to integrate.

Data Challenges

Quite often, the main objective business and tech teams are looking to achieve with regard to a hotel CRM is to maintain and utilize clean data, which will ultimately flow from the hotel PMS and other sources into a single guest profile. Marketers often find themselves frustrated with several key areas of functionality:

  • Guest Profiles: A common complaint is that guest profiles are a mess, filled with duplicates, and none are getting merged, in part because the matching and merging rules in place are simply not accurate. Emails are outdated. A clean profile space is needed – a single source of truth – so the hotel can really target and segment its audiences. 
  • Deeper Data: Better data in the CRM leads to more targeted audiences. Marketers may seek to use activities data to intelligently market to guests to upsell appropriately. For example, a hotel may be famous for its spa and golf; when couples travel to the hotel, one partner might like to play golf while the other enjoys lounging by the pool or staying in the room. Here, hotels should offer a half-day spa session for reservations with a golf booking. However, marketers often lack that activities data in their CRM.
  • Engagement: There’s more to marketing than email. There are also myriad ways for guests to communicate with a property, including text, which is increasing in popularity, and mobile apps. All the various modes of communication and engagement need to be offered and the engagement data needs to link to the guest profile.
  • Higher Conversions: Marketers should use every tool at their disposal to drive conversions, including Instagram and Facebook ads, dynamic websites and serving up personalized content with positive digital body language.
  • Future Proof: As the marketing team grows, so must the platform. Ultimately this will deliver a higher ROI in the long run. Thus a company needs to be sure its platform can keep up with the pace of technology.

Centralization is Crucial

To meet these cross-departmental demands and more, hoteliers can lean on Salesforce and Hapi to meet the needs of both the operational and IT factions within a company.

The Hapi platform brings data from various hospitality systems – including all of the leading Property Management Systems – in real-time into Salesforce. Guest profiles, preferences, reservation, and stay and spend history all flow through the Hapi middleware and into Salesforce. This is especially helpful for hotel companies that have deployed multiple PMSs across the globe and are lacking a centralized look at their portfolio-wide data. 

Within Salesforce, Hapi – as a Salesforce app exchange partner – has built an out of the box, hotel industry specific, personalized guest engagement tool called Hapi Guest. Once guest profiles flow into Hapi Guest, the Salesforce platform has both native and configurable rules to identify potential duplicates. Rules can also be further configured to automatically match and merge profiles, after certain matching thresholds are met.

Now that profiles are matched and merged, Hapi Guest has the ability to receive profile data from other hospitality data systems, like table management, spa, and golf systems, which can all be brought into Salesforce, for the building of the ultimate Guest 360 profile. Salesforce AI analyzes data and creates automated next best offer campaigns. And when it comes to interacting with guests, Salesforce is the ultimate omnichannel marketing engine, whether that be email, text, mobile app, or social media. A/B testing is native to Salesforce, so marketers can see which campaigns get the most response, and which don't.

Hapi brings certified interfaces supported by the leading hotel PMS providers. In many cases, profile integration is two-way, so while preferences and profiles are updated in Salesforce, rules can be configured to send these updates to the appropriate technology, allowing for IT to think outside of the box with its data architecture. Hapi Guest’s productized functionality offers better ROI and faster deployment, and is scalable and secure. 

When harnessed through the Hapi and Salesforce integrated platform, customer data can bring both the IT and business teams together. Marketers should be excited about all the innovation they can unleash, while IT can rest knowing that the company is working with a secure platform, with the latest data privacy safeguards. When operations and IT are happy, ultimately it’s the guest who wins.

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