One of the more tortured acronyms at Carlson Hospitality Worldwide – CustomerKARE – actually describes one of the more important ways it’s growing its business. Just how important the Customer Knowledge And Relationship Enabling database really is is shown by the recent promotion of Kathy Hollenhorst to Executive VP CRM for the Carlson Consumer Group (which includes hotels, vacation ownership, restaurants, cruise ships and leisure travel), reporting directly to CEO Curtis Nelson.
What does CRM mean to her? “Maximizing revenues through customer relationships within and across all Carlson consumer brands,” says Hollenhorst. She sees four main aspects:
- Knowledge: “it’s vital to invest the time and energy to collect accurate data and analyze it appropriately.”
- Conversation: “understanding how to use all of our channels – GDS, voice center, the Web site, etc. – to sell in ways relevant to our customers.”
- Service Delivery: “knowing the most effective ways to interact with the customers when they call or show up at the properties.”
- Program Management: “making sure that frequent-guest programs offer appropriate rewards, and that the guests actually do receive what they’re entitled to.”
Carlson made a real statement about the importance of clean data several years ago by mandating standard property management systems in all properties, extracting data from the Fidelio PMS used at most Radisson locations plus the Ramesys ImagInn systems at many Country Inns & Suites. This is reviewed with a variety of in-house and third-party analysis tools, “slicing and dicing for a purpose instead of analyzing it to death,” as Hollenhorst puts it.
“Taking it one step at a time is also key to making it work. We started with data from just the US-based Radissons, and are now adding Canada. Next we’ll enhance the data cleansing tools to let us add the international Radisson sites and guests with overseas addresses, and then extend the concept to the other brands.”
“But the critical element is cultural orientation,” she says. “Emotional involvement in the process is absolutely essential, in understanding the importance of getting accurate data and meaningful reports as well as in truly wanting the customer to have the best possible experience.”
It’s really important to KARE.