Wednesday, May 17, 2017

What information do luxury hotels keep on guest profiles?

A guest profile on a good property management system will come with everything you see here. Make a reservation, or check into the hotel, one time, and that ‘file’ will exist for years — or until they change the system.

And that’s their ‘floor sample’, the screenshot provided to their prospective hotel company buyers. The ones I’ve used have an added button on the above screen where, with one click, we can bring up your photo and a sample of your signature (both of these come off your drivers’ license when we scan it the first time we check you in).

Assuming your reservations agent was using this one made by Visual Matrix Property Management Systems (there are more of these systems out there than there are hotels to run them in, it seems), if she knew which suite you stayed in last time, a click on that tab up and near the right marked ‘History’ is what told her.

And we want more. CendynONE, the makers of the must successful customer relationship management system for hotels, gives you this in addition.

Don’t get creeped out. It’s all good.

First, not every hotel has it: smaller, cheaper ones won’t make quite that investment. (There’s a desktop system you can buy for a thousand give or take, that contents itself with more basic information, here. And most franchised hotels just take whatever Choice Hotels or Wyndham Worldwide requires them to have, and don’t invest any more. At least Best Western — which got me acquainted with Visual Matrix — and Red Lion, went to the bother of putting together decent systems.)

Secondly, while opportunities for misuse occur, most of the people I’ve known over my years in this business who are bent that way tend to own, or be employed in, a hotel that doesn’t make quite that investment in big data. (Hotels that do invest in a good CRM system have an even larger investment in not allowing it to be misused and incurring the business costs that would come with a public backlash from that. Most franchised hotels use whatever overpriced piece of crap property management system the franchise organization tells them to, not that many of those are this capable; and even when they are, not too many people in the hotel have access to, or know how to use, most of the features.) We have had the occasional perv get the phone number for an attractive woman guest (mea culpa, but it all worked out, and we even stayed married for ten years…) or someone with dishonest intent and an online gambling problem help himself to the credit card information of one or more guests (which I actually busted a guy for doing some ten years ago); but in both cases, it took a system no more sophisticated than a years-old version of that cheap desktop system that I linked you to, if even that.) If you come to work for me as a clerk, there’s no foolproof way to stop you from trying it if you’re bent that way, but a good system will record every file that you opened during your shift, every day; so if you’re opening files that your job duties don’t require that you get into and nosing into things you shouldn’t, or misusing our guests’ information in some way, we can find you.

Third, if nothing about you sticks out that would provoke someone on the hotel staff to take an interest in you, chances are your profile will never even be looked at.

Why I would want something like this system:
  • Among the info that it picks up about you is where you work. (We do that ourselves: we stick with the old-fashioned registration card, and it’s one of the blanks you fill out.) If you and several other people from your workplace stay with us frequently, our salespeople will be paying it a visit. You could end up with a better rate.
  • Not to let daylight in upon magic, but if we sent you a birthday card, it’s not nearly as likely that we remembered you as it is because the system prompted us. (A lot of the stuff we get comes off your publicly-viewable social media pages.) And we compensate a little, and let you know it’s really from the heart and not just a PR gimmick, the next time you come around and we’ve got you down for a free upgrade.
  • If Lady Gaga is in town and demand is so high in the area that hotels are full and walk-ins are being charged a couple hundred dollars or more, but this is the night for better or worse that you show up, well, we know you’re a regular and we go easy on you. We’ll take your reservation even if we’re running close to full and we could get $250–300 from someone else, and we’ll charge you a little closer to what you’re used to seeing, if not the same rate.
  • If you usually get a 5:30am wake-up call, but on this stay, you didn’t ask for one . . . well, our people know to ask, if you forgot. Or to ask before they assume you forgot if, on this stay, you didn’t need or want one, before they go putting one in for you. Or to not ask if, previously, you’ve told one of our staff don’t worry about it.
  • We make a policy of looking out for people who look out for us. (That’s why the complimentary bottles of Le Bleu, Ultra Pure Bottled Water in your fridge: we have to provide complimentary bottled water anyway, and Le Bleu is bottled right up the road from where we live. Kaba-Ilco was our preferred vendor of guestroom locking systems and much of the reason why is because they have a plant in our Winston-Salem, N. C. hometown. Then they crapped on our home city: they announced that they’re planning to close the plant, putting 123 people out of work and moving all the jobs to Mexico, so now they’re in our bad books and we’re looking at Assa Abloy, Samsung, and other systems for electronic locks for our rooms in the future, and our next hotels will not have Ilco locks.) If we’re looking to build a new hotel in Savannah and, what do you know, you’re a real estate broker living in Savannah and you always stay with us when you’re in town, you might be getting a call that’s worth a lot more than your loyalty card points.
  • If you encountered a problem on your last stay that can be fixed, we want to do just that — and to assure you that in the future, you can come to us with it and you know exactly who to call. So, we get an immediate alert if you post something to TripAdvisor. Or we make a note of it if we picked up on it that you were unhappy about something. And we want to alert the staff to be extra careful so that it doesn’t happen again.
  • If you like baseball, you may be staying with us on a night when we’ve got extra tickets to a Winston-Salem Dash game. We may only have six or so and won’t be able to offer them to every guest, but if we know you like baseball, you’d be one of the six.
  • If you frequently travel with a pet, we try to put you on a low floor near a rear exit, so you can walk Spot, or change Patches’ litterbox, as needed.
  • And if we know that the noise from our vending area drives you nuts, and we found nothing wrong with our vending machines when we checked them, we know to put you in a room away from them that time.
It’s a marketing tool — but a large part of that is that it helps our hotel, and our staff, work for you, specifically, and appreciate you as an individual.

Originally appeared on Quora


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