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From an engagement perspective, hotels work to try to generate and implement new customer-centric experiences and new opportunities.

How Hotels Can Retain Customers Through Process Management

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Asking a customer for their preferences and developing more customer-centric packages keeps guests interested
By Mark McGregor August 2018 Hotel & Lodging

Process Management or Process Modeling is one the most underrated applications that can be used to enhance the experience of travel. Business Process Management is the discipline that can assist airlines, hotels, and other travel related entities to sustain innovation and optimization of processes to ensure consistent delivery of a better customer experience. Many travel companies forget that most of the lasting impressions are crested when customers interact with people, not systems. Focusing on technology at the expense of understanding the complete customer journey including people, some of whom may be employed by third parties, risks alienating the same customers whose experience you set out to enhance.

Hotels today are some of the most complex organizations with dozens of moving parts that must work seamlessly together to maintain efficiency and customer satisfaction. Business Process Management provides a practical framework for consistent service quality and improvement among guests. Consistent rules, procedures, policies, and branding across all hotels make the customer experience one that is most memorable, creating a brand that customers can trust. One the most regular complaints among regular travelers on any travel forum is the inconsistency with which hotels and other travel companies apply their rules and procedures, often turning neutral customers into angry customers.

Internal processes for physical operations remain separate entities that must also coordinate together. Processes specific to the hospitality industry fall into three types of categories including core processes, operating processes, and managerial processes. The core processes allow for employees to transparently view internal documents as well as policies and procedures that can be accessed by any staff member. Operating processes deliver on products and services specific to customer requests and needs. The managerial processes are key to the basic functionality of the organization and may touch all aspects such as product supply, guest arrival and departure, as well as food service. A core process can assist in filing customer complaints, reviews, and even tracking which properties a frequent hotel guest may have stayed at previously.  All helping to further understand the customer and their buying habits to more effectively market to them in the future. 

It can be assumed that hotels would retain a much larger percentage of clientele if it had stronger processes and procedures in place to unify employee functions and better serve the customer. For example, often times, when a customer registers their information for an online booking with a third- party website, the customer arrives and must fill out more information for the hotel system. A process management system can help to further simplify the check-in of the guest by automating the documentation so that only a signature may be required upon arrival. The BPM makes the process more simplified. The same process can be applied to that of housekeeping service. Housekeeping can utilize a BPM system to view which rooms need to be serviced, which rooms are occupied, which guests have requested a late check-out, and even which rooms are completed for future guest arrival. This makes for a simplified and organized model, allowing for no confusion between floors or shifts. 

From an operational perspective, a BPM system manages all facets of the booking process. Through the system, the hotel can create offer packages, confirm rooms, conduct payments, and process payments. According to set of filters, the system can automatically understand popular seasons as well as high occupancy and can further assist in keeping a hotel near full occupancy while avoiding over occupancy resulting in monetary losses in compensation for over-booking. Using business process management, specific rules and commands can be made internally. An example is that if availability is higher than 35 percent, the and the booking was reserved more than 30 days prior to the preferred dates in high season, then increase the room price by 20 percent. If availability is lower than 35 percent, and the booking was reserved more than 30 days prior to the preferred dates during shoulder season, then increase the room price by 25 percent. The hotel has complete control over automated commands. The process helps the organization to save money that may have been lost in the past, and maintain a consistent booking schedule.

From an engagement perspective, hotels work to try to generate and implement new customer-centric experiences and new opportunities. Asking a customer for their preferences and developing more customer-centric packages keeps customers interested. For the benefit of the hotelier, insights on customer engagement can be analyzed and monitored as well as implemented into daily operations for tactical decision making. 

Overall, with the digital transformation of a BPM suite, customers are retained through positive experiences with all departments in the hotel. Check in and buying processes are made simple, activities made more accessible, housekeeping made more reliable, and experiences made more enjoyable, creating a customer retention and established trust.

Mark McGregor is Head of Strategy at Signavio. A former Research Director at leading IT industry analysis firm Gartner, McGregor has an extensive background in enterprise architecture, business process management and change management, having held executive positions with a number of technology companies. Widely respected for his knowledge and views on business change, he is the creator of “Next Practice” and has variously been described as a “BPM Guru,” a “Thought Leader” and a “Master of Mindset.”