CRM in the Tourism Industry – The case of Four Seasons Hotels
Customer Relationship Management, or “CRM”, is one of the most important topics in the world of business. Its effects and dimensions simply cannot be denied. Without proper customer relationship management, there is no way to attract and retain customers to the business and therefore to be profitable.
Today, especially in the Hotel industry, CRM is crucial. The hotel industry is facing an increasingly competitive market that pushes the hotels to have a greater need to differentiate for their customers. Hotels need to have a deep knowledge of their customers’ needs, behavior, and preferences to be aware of the ways in which their hospitality services will be delivered. The purpose is to create value and therefore, stimulate customer retention and loyalty. In other words, they need create an exceptional experience adjusted to their customers’ needs to maintain the company’s long-term success; and that is exactly what Four Season Hotels and Resorts do.
Four Seasons Hotels Inc. is one of the world’s leading hotel management companies specializing in luxury and resort properties. It originated in Toronto, Canada over forty years ago when its founder, Isadore Sharp, opened up the first Four Seasons hotel. His concept was to create a chain of luxury hotels that offered excellence in service and amenities. The hotel currently has sixty-four properties in twenty-nine countries. The majority of properties are held under the Four Seasons and Regent Hotel brands. The company has also established “branded share ownership properties and private residences”.
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts have built an internationally recognised brand by offering guests exceptional luxury in beautiful locations all around the world. The company understands that while each of their property provides customers with a “unique experience the success of the company is guaranteed. In fact, their value proposition it’s about satisfying the needs of stressed business and leisure travelers who value a luxurious environment, a terrific personalised service, high quality and time. Guests like to see that they are getting what they paying for. This is how Four Seasons is able to charge high prices to the guests who stay at their hotel. Four Seasons’ objective is to maintain a relationship with their guests who value their impeccable luxurious services. (www.hotelnewsnow.com). Anytime a guest encounters anything less than what they had expected, Four Seasons staff quickly fix the mistake and most likely compensate the guest to win back their trust.
Moreover, every aspect of the facilities are carefully designed and arranged in a way that is consistent with their mission: “…. The Four Seasons embodies a true home away from home for those who know and appreciate the best….”(www.fourseason.com) Every hotel includes numerous restaurants, spa, fitness center, business centers, etc. Their guests don’t have to leave the hotel for anything because everything that they could possibly want is located on their property. Therefore the company has even more time to analyze and build a relationship with their clients.
Hiring and empowering people who embrace the hotel’s customer-focused mission of Four Seasons Hotels has been another reason for its success. In fact, their success is their employees. Since the foundation of the company, Isadora Sharp saw the causal link between the ways a hotel treated its employees and the way employees treated their guests; if the employees are well treated, they will treat the customers the same way. Sharp, carry out the connection above and declared a ‘Golden Rule’ that is one of the cornerstones of the corporate culture of the hotels. The Golden Rule is: “We aimed to treat others as we would want to be treated ourselves.” The organisation has inculcated this culture of service thought several actions. First, they select the right people. They hire for attitude, rather than skills. Furthermore, the Four Seasons claims to treat their employees like they treat their customers, which has lead them to be ranked by Fortune as one of the best companies to work for. At the moment the company has 33,212 employees around the world. And unlike many of their competitors, the Four Season employees receive higher salaries than industry average, fantastic benefits, have unique opportunities to be promoted within the organisation, and have a lower turnover rate of 11% compared with the industry average of 27%. Therefore, the employee oriented culture of the Four Season Hotel increases employee efficiency, which increases customer satisfaction and retention that leads to higher sales.
The Four Season chain is a leading pioneer for service and facilities in the hotel industry, and it has become the defining competitive difference for the company. They were the first hotel company to include bathroom amenities, like shampoo, bathrobes, hairdryers and make-up mirrors in their hotel rooms; the first ones to provide 24-hour room service, overnight dry cleaning, shoe shining and fitness centers. Also, as mention before, they create a unique atmosphere particular to a specific destination; for example: in Bora Bora, the rooms are bungalows in the water, in the Golden Triangle, Thailand, breakfast is served looking at the elephants.
In addition, the Four Season interacts with their customers in several different ways. The company’s management claims that daily employee-guest interaction is by far the most important factor to create a “unique experience”, and keep building and maintaining customers trust. The company’s in- depth training ensures that all employees are on the same page and utilise the same interface service techniques when the guests come through the door. For instance, they welcome every guest by their last name and they are attentive to anything they might need without being intrusive.
Simultaneously, The Four Season Hotel is incorporating web tactics into their CRM strategy. For instance, a strong social media campaign, which corresponds to 50% of their marketing efforts, since 78% of their most wealthy clients are using social networking sites (mostly twitter) to connect with the company and make their reservations.
As bottom line, for over nearly 50 years now, the Four Season Hotel makes an excellent job at identifying, differentiating, interacting with and customising for, its customers. As result, they have built strong clients relations and therefore have developed a trust amongst their stakeholders that has kept them at the top of the industry.