Blog Post / October 28, 2019 / Guest Experience

Hotel CRM and F&B: How to Connect Your Systems In 3 Easy Steps

by Lenny DeFranco
Lenny DeFranco

For hotels that have food and beverage (F&B) outlets, getting data from the bars and restaurants on-site is a key component of a sophisticated data strategy. According to data from Cendyn, a hotel CRM technology company, F&B comprises as much as 25% of all spending at hotels. It’s also a rare growth area in the hotel industry, increasing about 5.5% a year over the last decade. Even more importantly, F&B helps hotels differentiate themselves from vacation rentals, by offering guests destination experiences and authentic, local establishments.

But how well are hotels able to connect the F&B experience with the rest of the business? The answer, historically, is not well.

The time has come for hotels to start experiencing the benefit of having complete, global profile data on their customers. Here’s why they want it—and how they can achieve it.
Why F&B Data Belongs In Hotel Guest Profiles
In hotels, F&B outlets are often siloed from the room side of the business. They’re run by different managers and divided by technology systems that were never designed to integrate. Culturally, the separation made sense. Hoteliers have historically viewed their jobs as providing guest experiences in rooms and amenities, not restaurants.

As data continues to transform dining and hospitality, that status quo is changing. Hotels are beginning to invest in the people, processes, and technology they need to combine F&B data with guest data and use it to provide better experiences.

F&B data is a perfect complement to the information stored in a hotel CRM. It fleshes out the profile of a guest, helping hotels discover preferences and tailor experiences in remarkable ways. Plus, integrating the datasets allows hotels to leverage the F&B interaction itself—an incredibly rich, human touchpoint between a customer and a brand—as an opportunity to gather data that will personalize service, marketing, offers, everything.

In our recent webinar, “Eat, Sleep, Repeat: How To Leverage F&B Data To Win Loyal Customers For Life,” SevenRooms teamed up with Cendyn to illustrate the kinds of benefits hotels can reap from enriching their CRM systems with F&B data. In the presentation, SevenRooms Co-Founder & CPO Allison Page and Cendyn Director of Marketing Casey Munck laid out concrete examples of how hotels can use restaurant data to boost customer loyalty and drive more revenue.

Click here to view the webinar.

The final section of the webinar covers the critical steps hotels need to follow in order to implement a data strategy that combines an F&B system with hotel CRM. In this post, we’ll dive into the steps that bring that strategy to life, and help your hotel’s data unite and conquer.

Step 1: Choose technology that integrates

Not all hotel software takes the same approach to data portability. Some systems are lightweight, inexpensive, and essentially digitize a pen-and-paper workflow. Others are built to gather data, but they keep it isolated to their systems, using it to optimize their own marketing.

The first responsibility of hoteliers looking to integrate F&B data with their CRM is to find technology partners committed to meeting the data needs of a sophisticated integration. To get a global view of your guests, it’s essential to find technology partners that are open enough to not only gather data, but make it available for you to own.

Look for F&B technology that features a robust, two-way integration with CRM software. Things to look for include APIs and strategic partnerships with other systems.

Step 2: Establish a guest engagement strategy

Installing the right technology is important. It’s also the easy part. Much harder—and more valuable—is aligning your processes and people to maximize the opportunity of having global guest data. Now that you know the preferences of your hotel guests, based on what you’ve learned from them in your F&B outlets, what is your hotel going to be able to do about it?

A guest engagement strategy encompasses the process you put in place to turn guest data into personalized experiences. Make sure you’re engaging guests in at least these four phases of the guest lifecycle:

Discovery & Booking

Target the offers and promotions you send to guests in your system based on the information you have about them. If you know that a customer prefers a certain type of wine, send a personalized email inviting them to brunch with that wine discounted.

Before the visit

Prepare to wow your guests with personalization that starts the moment they walk in the door. F&B data is a valuable resource for information on the way they’d like their room set up, what kind of room service offers they’ll be responsive to, or even the family planning to stay with them. For example: if you know from restaurant service that a guest is allergic to peanuts, make sure the minibar is free of that allergen before they get to the room—and replace them with a snack they do like.

In-service

During service at the on-site F&B outlet is your best chance to personalize the guest experience. Think of it like a two-hour concierge conversation: this is your brand, front and center, with an opportunity to both impress and learn about your customers.

In the video below, which illustrates the Alexa integration we announced in early 2019, you can see the power of having ready access to guest data while managing the various interactions (and calamities) that happen every single day at an F&B outlet.

 

 

Clearly, providing better service is just the start. With an integration between F&B and your hotel CRM system, the data you just learned about the guest in that video would be added to her hotel profile. Which brings us to:

Marketing

Global guest profiles make for better promotional outreach at the micro and the macro level. The discovery and booking process, as discussed, will improve when you can offer past guests promotions they are more likely to purchase. But your high-level marketing will also improve with data-based insights on what’s working and where your opportunities lie.

If you notice a trend in your F&B data—say, that weekend brunch guests are starting to order more rosé than mimosas—you can quickly create a promotion based around that trend to monetize it quickly. The audience to target with this marketing promotion, of course, will be the people who have ordered rosé with brunch in the past. The result: better high level marketing and more precise targeting.

Step 3: Empower your people to deliver personalized experiences

The most valuable step in this process is getting your staff ready to implement the guest engagement strategy. Putting the technology in place provides a foundation for engagement by making the data available. Training employees to embrace this new approach to guest engagement is how you get full value out of the data.

Host an implementation training to teach your service staff how to read guest data and use it to anticipate guest needs. Hire marketing professionals who know how to turn customer data into effective outreach campaigns. Help everyone in your hotel become part of a unified guest data strategy.

To learn more about the power of F&B outlets in hotels, click here to download Harnessing The Power Of The F&B Experience.

About the Author

Lenny DeFranco

Lenny DeFranco writes about the data transformation of dining and hospitality for SevenRooms. Contact with questions, story ideas, and life questions at lenny.defranco@sevenrooms.com.

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