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Customer Relationship Management in Travel & Hospitality

Customer relationship management (CRM) is one of the key functional areas in the CX landscape. The use of CRM systems offers benefits in any industry, enabling the tracking of customer interactions and information, eliminating manual activities, such as reporting and analysis, and resulting in faster and more accurate inquiry resolution. In the travel & hospitality industry, this is especially important, as CRM can help identify booking history and preferences, providing more personalized engagement. On the customer-facing side, customers or guests can receive more tailored sales suggestions, reminders, and updates. In the back office, companies can receive account notifications when events are recorded in a customer account, enabling improved prioritization of follow-up tasks and responses.

A scan of CRM use cases shows that tourism bureaus and travel agencies have been heavy users of CRM systems, as they attempt to increase internal efficiencies and develop more targeted and personal relationships with their clientele. Freshsales highlights a case study in which its CRM system was adopted by Byond Travel and resulted in 10x improved CX. Visit Costa del Sol tourism board worked with Hubspot to implement a system that resulted in a 2x increase in visitors to the region and a 50% increase in leads.

SugarCRM is a company that offers an artificial intelligence (AI)-infused cloud platform for marketing automation (Sugar Market), sales automation (Sugar Sell), and customer service (Sugar Serve). The company focuses on the middle market and has more than 4,500 users in 120 countries. At the 2021 SugarCRM Analyst Summit, SugarCRM CEO Craig Charlton reported the impressive statistic of 100% net customer retention. I recently spoke with Christian Wettre, SVP and GM, Platform at SugarCRM, to get a briefing on the company’s products and to discuss trends and use cases in the travel & hospitality industry.

SugarCRM is a horizontal offering, with a global client base across many industries. In Wettre’s experience, the travel segment was an early adopter of CRM technologies. The COVID-19 pandemic has, of course, hit the industry hard, but Wettre reported there has been targeted tech spending, especially in travel agencies and cruise lines. SugarCRM has found success in the travel segment with a diverse and global base of travel-related clients, including Cruise One, Hong Kong Tourism Bureau, RIU Hotels and Resorts, Okada Manila, and Private Jet Services. Many are using Sugar Sell with use cases that include:

  • Contact management
  • General relationship management
  • B2B vendor management
  • Client management
  • B2B client management
  • Agent and customer inquiry management
  • Booking preference management
  • Opportunity management
  • Casino guest relations

In an industry that relies on personal touch, CRM solutions allow travel brands to stay close to the customer journey, allowing for a 360° view of customer interactions. This results in more personalization and less frustration for both customers and the companies interacting with them.

Author Information

As a detail-oriented researcher, Sherril is expert at discovering, gathering and compiling industry and market data to create clear, actionable market and competitive intelligence. With deep experience in market analysis and segmentation she is a consummate collaborator with strong communication skills adept at supporting and forming relationships with cross-functional teams in all levels of organizations.

She brings more than 20 years of experience in technology research and marketing; prior to her current role, she was a Research Analyst at Omdia, authoring market and ecosystem reports on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and User Interface technologies. Sherril was previously Manager of Market Research at Intrado Life and Safety, providing competitive analysis and intelligence, business development support, and analyst relations.

Sherril holds a Master of Business Administration in Marketing from University of Colorado, Boulder and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Rutgers University.

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