Never mind CRM – what about partner relationship management?

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The idea of customer relationship management, or CRM, has been around for years and companies such as Salesforce have built billion-dollar businesses around managing the direct sales relationship. But a recent Impartner survey shows that nine out of ten hiring managers are finding it difficult to recruit direct sales professionals and as a result, companies are increasingly turning to indirect sales to deliver business growth. – Read

Top 5 CRM Systems of 2017

Starting to use a CRM system for your hotel, bar, restaurant or venue, could be a decision that completely changes your business. A CRM system when correctly implemented, can help with business transparencyefficiencyorganisation, custom retention and importantly, it can help you to close more sales.

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Needless to say there are many CRM systems in the marketplace today, so in this blog post I’m going to give an overview of LeadDigital’s Top 5 recommended CRM systems of 2017.

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Salesforce

The World’s #1 CRM”

Founded in 1999 by Marc Benioff, Parker Harris, Dave Moellenhoff and Frank Dominguez, Salesforce is now the most used CRM Worldwide.

With around 4 million users and over 10,000 employees globally, Salesforce has the infrastructure to support hospitality businesses of any size. Salesforce is constantly being improved, with around $150m research & development budget per year. See our recent ‘Is SalesForce Right For You?’ article for more information.

Pros: Salesforce will support any company size. Their ‘AppExchange’ marketplace boasts thousands of add-on applications which cover a variety of different niches; everything from Event Management to Booking Engines and Surveys.

Cons: The basic versions can be very restrictive if you wish to do any customisation, such as to workflows or custom coding.

Cost: All versions are billed annually, per user. SalesforceIQ (small business CRM solution) starts at £20/user/month for the starter package, up to £240/user/month for unlimited with all features.

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HubSpot CRM

“Grow and manage your pipeline for free”

HubSpot’s CRM solution is relatively new when compared to Salesforce, as the latest addition to HubSpot’s existing collection of inbound marketing services, which they’ve been developing since 2006!

By adding a CRM to the existing tools that HubSpot offers, users can capture the whole lifecycle of a lead, from the inbound marketing source, through into the CRM. Users can then track all results gathered, entirely within one system.

Pros: Free for up to 1 million contacts. Able to track the whole lifecycle of a lead from capture to completion, when using other HubSpot products, such as HubSpot Marketing.

Cons: Very limited when compared to a complete CRM, such as Salesforce or Zoho. Small list of third party applications, when compared to other platforms.

Cost: Free – however, you will need other modules such as HubSpot Marketing & Sales, which are at an additional cost.

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Zoho CRM

“Get ready to sell Smarter, Better, Faster.”

Zoho CRM was one of the first products in the ‘Zoho Suite’, introduced in 2005. Since then Zoho has grown in size, with 25 million [1] users across its whole product range in 2017.

Zoho have recently introduced AI into their CRM, in the form of ‘Zia’. The AI is able to learn how each person uses the CRM, and can master data intelligence to interpret how your business works, analyse what you’re trying to achieve and predict unexpected incidents before they even happen!

Pros: Long list of integrations and excellent customer support. Very competitive pricing for an enterprise CRM, highly customisable Cloud-based platform.

Cons: Zoho CRM can be very complex to customise and the user interface is not quite as intuitive as other platforms.

Cost: When billed annually, the standard package is $10/user/month, Professional $20/user/month, Enterprise, $35/user/month and Ultimate is $100/user/month.

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Microsoft Dynamics

“Drive your digital transformation with Dynamics 365”

Microsoft Dynamics is part of the Microsoft Business Solutions platform, which covers ERP and CRM. Microsoft Dynamics CRM can be run on-premise or online, via Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

Microsoft Dynamics focusses on the industries of retail, service, manufacturing, financial services, and the public sector, but it can be adapted to work in any industry including hospitality, and for any size of company.

Microsoft Dynamics is a modular system, which means it’s possible to only use the modules required, which can make it very cost effective.

Pros: Microsoft Dynamics has the potential to be the only system you need, as it can be configured to cover CRM and ERP. Very configurable, with lots of integrations available. A ‘light’ version is offered for smaller teams.

Cons: The pricing structure is quite complicated, with lots of options on modules.

Cost: The most popular plan, is £86.70/user/month. Light edition starts at £7.50/user/month.

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Pipedrive

“Pipedrive gets your sales organised”

Pipedrive was founded in 2010 and has around 240 employees Worldwide. As of 2017, Pipedrive has around 50,000 customers [2] all around the world, with a focus on small to medium size businesses.

Pipedrive was built by sales people, for sales people, and aims to simplify the sales process and provide an intuitive user interface to do so.

Pros: Pipedrives ‘Pipeline’ view is perfect to see all the current opportunity deals and their progress. The intuitive user interface is great and simple to use.

Cons: As Pipedrive is aimed at small companies, it can be overly simple. The list of integrations is short compared to other platforms.

Cost: Pipedrive offer annual and monthly costs. When billed annually, the Silver package is $10/user/month, Gold $21/user/month and Platinum, $63/user/month.

In Summary

There is a huge range of CRM systems to choose from in 2017 and this list only scratches the surface, with other services like ‘Insightly’, ‘Nutshell’, ‘Freshsales’, ‘Freshdesk’ etc… equally deserving of mention.

So how do you choose? Think about these questions; what problems can a CRM system solve and what issues can it improve?

The right software is vital, but so is installing it for the right reasons. Moving to a CRM system will take time, so thought needs to be put into the process.

At this point you should talk to us at LeadDigital. We have over 20 years experience in Martech and have successfully implemented CRM systems for various UK hospitality businesses, which have proved vital and in turn have increased revenues!

 

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References

[1] https://www.zoho.com/aboutus.html
[2] https://blog.pipedrive.com/2017/03/50000-customers-taught-us-sales/

Top 3 Ecommerce Platforms in 2017

With over 3 billion global internet users [1], there’s no doubt that your hotel, bar, restaurant or venue should be selling online in 2017. The best way to get started is with an ecommerce platform, a collection of purpose-built software technologies that allows merchants to build, host and manage online storefronts in order to sell their products.

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Shopping carts are the most important part of any ecommerce platform. It is the part of the software that allows customers to browse items, build lists for purchase and then “checkout” when they are ready to buy. At checkout, the software will generally calculate a total for the order, including shipping, handling and any applicable taxes.

More advanced ecommerce platforms will fit into your current supply chain making things like payment, delivery, accounting, warehousing and event planning integrate easily with your existing systems. Some platforms are even capable of being run in physical stores by offering their own point of sale systems.

This all sounds great, but with so many ecommerce platforms to choose from now, how are you supposed to know which one to go for? There’s never going to be a one-size-fits-all here, a brand new events venue trying to sell tickets online has very different ecommerce requirements to a hotel that has been taking room bookings for years.

 

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We’re here to help by telling you about the best ecommerce platforms available right now and how to choose the right one to suit you and your hospitality business. Here are LeadDigital’s top 3 ecommerce platforms in 2017:

1. Magento

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Magento is an enterprise-level, open-source ecommerce platform and was first released to the public in March 2008. The ecommerce platform is being used by around 240,000 websites [2], roughly 13% of all online storestoday [3] and includes many popular brands like Burger King, SEAT and Graze. There are currently three versions of the software available; Magento Community Edition, Magento Enterprise Edition and Magento Enterprise Cloud Edition.

Magento Community Edition is a free version of Magento, built for emerging small businesses and will work well for small stores with few products. The faster code base and page caching that Magento Enterprise Edition brings to the table is a must-have for larger stores, but this speed comes at a price.

Pros

  • Good user experience, the interface is very nice to work with.
  • Being an open-source platform means you have full control over your store and allows you to develop and extend to fit your needs.
  • There are almost 10,000 plugins/extensions available.
  • There are many free extensions available to let you sell on social media platforms.
  • Magento has a huge online community of store owners and plugin developers, always ready to give help and advice when building or extending your store.

Cons

  • Magento needs separate hosting, leaving you responsible for updates and security. The software has been known to run slowly on poorly optimised servers so you may need to spend time and money getting this configured.
  • Any customisation work would need to be done by a developer and if you’re looking to extend your store, this could end up being expensive.
  • Unless you’re comfortable working with code, getting extensions and templates working properly can be troublesome.
  • Can be very expensive for an enterprise license.

Who Should be Using Magento?

Magento is considered by many to be the enterprise-level ecommerce platform of choice, built to work with large stores and large amounts of products. It is highly customisable due to it being open-source, but requires an expert developer to get most things done. Magento is not a simple solution and can only be recommended for advanced users. If you’re a startup or smaller store, then a hosted solution like Shopify would be a better fit.

2. WooCommerce

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WooCommerce was first developed by WordPress developer WooThemes in 2011 and has since been downloaded over 20 million times [4]. Despite a flood of competitors entering the market, WooCommerce has shown amazing resilience and is a major player in the game. Stats from BuiltWith show that 24% of the top million ecommerce sites are built using WooCommerce[5]. WooCommerce was acquired by Automattic, the parent company of WordPress in May 2015 [6].

WooCommerce is a plugin, not a subscription-based solution like Shopify or Magento and is built to integrate seamlessly with WordPress. The plugin itself is free, 100% open-source and is backed by a huge online communitythat is always ready to offer help and advice.

Pros

  • It’s free! It doesn’t get much better than that.
  • Highly extendable and customisable, there are many free and paid extensions and thousands of themes available to install on your store.
  • If you have ever used WordPress then WooCommerce will feel very familiar and anybody with past experience will easily be able to figure it out.
  • WordPress and WooCommerce both have huge community support, which makes getting help and advice on your store a breeze.

Cons

  • Even though the base plugin is free, many of the extensions are not. Total costs will soon go up when you start extending your store.
  • Customisation can be difficult and you may need to hire a expert to install the plugin, custom themes or extensions which could end up being costly.
  • WooCommerce is not a hosted solution so you must buy separate hosting, leaving you responsible for the security and maintenance of your store.

Who Should be Using WooCommerce?

WooCommerce is perfect for people already running their website on the WordPress platform because it’s simple to download and install on an existing WordPress site.

For a lot of small businesses, WooCommerce comes with everything you need; the ability to sell products, calculate shipping, calculate taxes and accept PayPal payments. It even comes with a customer login area to show customers the status of their orders. However, if your store needs anything other than standard ecommerce features, you are going need an expert to work on it and you can expect the costs to rise significantly with each extension you need to install.

3. Shopify

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Founded in 2004, Shopify was originally based on software written by its founders for their online snowboard store, Snowdevil. [7] Since its humble beginnings, the company has grown to over 1,900 employees, working from 6 different offices around the world [8] and after going public in 2015, posted revenues of $205 million. [9]

Shopify is one of the biggest ecommerce platforms in the world, to date they are hosting 377,500 online stores that have sold over $29 billion worth of products. [10]

Prices start from ~£23/month for the basic package and up to ~£234/month for more advanced plans. Shopify also offer an enterprise level plan called Shopify Plus for high-volume merchants and large businesses.

Pros

  • Free 14 day trial, no risk, no credit card required.
  • 100+ professional themes to choose from, made by world-renowned designers like Happy Cog, Clearleft and Pixel Union.
  • 1,500+ apps to extend your store’s functionality.
  • 70+ international payment gateways included. Shopify makes it easy for customers to pay for items.
  • Mobile commerce ready. Your Shopify store and checkout will work on any mobile or tablet device right out of the box.
  • Use the official app to access store analytics, update your store, fulfill orders or contact customers all from your mobile device.
  • 24/7 dedicated support team available via email, live chat or telephone.

Cons

  • Your total monthly cost may end up higher than you originally thought because you will find yourself installing one of the many apps to increase your store’s functionality, but these apps come with their own monthly costs.
  • The checkout page is locked down to Shopify’s design unless you upgrade to Shopify Plus. There are good reasons for this, but if you want to control the design of your store all the way through, you’re going to be disappointed.

Who Should be Using Shopify?

Shopify is a fantastic ecommerce platform for beginners with a very simple setup process and a great dashboard area for quickly adding products and managing your store. Combine this with a huge library of beautiful themes and you can have a good looking store up and running in just few hours.

Shopify is, in our opinion, the best ecommerce platform available today for Hospitality businesses. The level of customisation offered across all areas of your ecommerce store make it extremely powerful. With all the technical aspects of running an online store taken care of, you can focus on the important bit, increasing ticket sales.

As an official Shopify partner, LeadDigital can design and build custom themes for your store. We can sit down, discuss your business goals and work with you to build a Shopify store from the ground up in order to increase your event sales.

 

Want to Discuss Ecommerce Software for Your Business?

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References

[1] ICT Facts and Figures 2016. International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Jun 2017.
[2] Magento Usage Statistics. BuiltWith. Apr 2017.
[3] Ecommerce technologies Web Usage Statistics. BuiltWith. Apr 2017.
[4] WooCommerce – The Best eCommerce Platform for WordPress. WooCommerce. Apr 2017.
[5] Ecommerce technologies Web Usage Statistics. BuiltWith. Apr 2017.
[6] WordPress Parent Automattic Buys WooCommerce. Recode. 19 May 2015.
[7] Shopify, a Start-Up, Starts Its Own Business Competition. The New York Times. 2 Feb 2010.
[8] 2016 Year in Review. Shopify.
[9] Shopify Expects Revenue to Surge in 2016. Fortune. 17 Feb 2016.
[10] Shopify Announces Fourth-Quarter and Full Year 2016 Financial Results. Shopify. 15 Feb 2017.

Using Shopify to Increase your Event Sales

Want to increase your event sales? Are you thinking of selling tickets online, but don’t know where to start? Whether you are running events at a hotel, bar, restaurant or venue, the internet is a great place to sell tickets and you should take advantage by making sure yours are as accessible as possible. Here are six reasons why we think Shopify is the best place to run a successful online ticket store.

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First, A Little Bit of History…

Founded in 2004, Shopify was originally based on software written by its founders for their online snowboard store, Snowdevil. [1] Since its humble beginnings, the company has grown to over 1,900 employees, working from 6 different offices around the world [2] and after going public in 2015, posted revenues of $205 million. [3]

Shopify is the biggest ecommerce platform in the world, to date they are hosting 377,500 online stores that have sold over $29 billion worth of products. [4]

1. Beautiful Online Storefronts

In the right hands, Shopify will allow you to create beautiful, custom online ticket stores. You have complete control over the look and feel of your store, from its branding to its colours, layout and content. The customer experience with your brand is very important and Shopify provides everything you need to design and build this experience.

When selling tickets online, the event itself is everything. The powerful customisation features of Shopify provides the level of control needed to showcase your events in the best possible way. The product catalog system will let you categorise your events to help your customers find exactly what they’re looking for without getting frustrated.

Shopify is mobile-friendly and has built-in mobile commerce features so that your customers can browse and buy from your store using their mobile device. Shopify will detect when a customer goes to your store using a mobile device and show a different version of the checkout process, designed and built to work on smaller screens.

As an official Shopify Partner, LeadDigital can design and build custom themes for your online ticket store. We can sit down, discuss your business goals and work with you to build a Shopify store from the ground up in order to increase your event sales.

 

Work with LeadDigital to Increase Your Event Sales

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2. Advanced Store Management

Once your storefront has been designed and built, you can add your events using the flexible inventory management system. Shopify can keep track of tickets sold and automatically stop selling your events when they have sold out.

You can add multiple variants of your tickets and these variants will allow you to customise how you sell your events. Want to offer multiple dates on your London party event? No problem. Do you have a fixed number of window seats available on your river boat cruise? That’s fine too. Each variant you create can have its own price and ticket allocation.

3. Mobile App

Shopify have built a mobile app that makes it easy to get an overview of your store when you’re on the go. All of your data is automatically synced between the app and your online store, making it available to you at anytime.

You can check your sales statistics, view and update ticket inventory, orders and customer data all from your iOS or Android device. Seeing all of your sales and visitor traffic at a glance will give you valuable insight into your business and keeps you in the loop when you’re away from your desk.

4. Marketing & SEO

An important part of increasing your event sales is letting people know your events exist in the first place! Shopify helps get the most out of your event by supporting SEO best practices and even generates special sitemap files for your products, pages and blog posts to make it easier for search engines like Google to find your content.

Google takes into account site speed when ranking pages in their search engine [5] and even provides tools like PageSpeed Insights to help you make it faster. It is no coincidence that the hosting included in your Shopify plan is lightning-fast.

If you would like to offer a special discount on your event for early-birds, or maybe offer a coupon to new members, Shopify has you covered and has a great discount codes and coupons system built-in. Combine your special offers with a solid email marketing campaign and you have a powerful selling tool on your hands.

Shopify integrates seamlessly with MailChimp, allowing you to automatically send your new customers and their purchase data to your MailChimp account. Being a Shopify Partner and a MailChimp Expert, LeadDigital fully recommend MailChimp for your hospitality business and believe that purchase data from Shopify can play an important role in an automated marketing strategy. Knowing what events your customers have been to in the past lets you know what events they might want to attend in the future.

 

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5. Web Hosting & Security

All Shopify plans come with hosting included, you get unlimited bandwidth and will never be charged based on the number of visitors or traffic coming to your store. All updates made to the core Shopify system are done automatically, meaning you will always be on the latest version and have access to the newest features.

Every bit of data that goes into your Shopify store is protected by daily backups. You can rest assured that all of your store data including business information, products, customer data, orders and inventory is safe and recoverable.

When it comes to security, Shopify is certified Level-1 PCI compliant [6], meaning all pages, content, credit card and transaction information on Shopify is protected by the same level of security that banks have to use.

6. Shopping Cart & Checkout

As soon as you launch your online ticket store, you can accept major credit cards including Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express. Shopify supports over 70 payment gateways from around the world including PayPal, Amazon Pay and even bitcoin, giving your customers multiple ways to pay for your events. You can also accept payments via Apple Pay, a cutting-edge technology that will give your customers an even faster checkout experience and allow them to purchase tickets in a single step.

Order confirmation emails and invoices can be sent to the customer as soon as they purchase tickets from you, providing them with a seamless experience and the instant confirmation they will be used to in today’s world. You can take this one step further by making use of a custom Shopify App that could create and send your event tickets automatically to the customer on your behalf, removing administration and increasing the efficiency of your business.

Shopify gives you the ability to recover abandoned shopping carts by providing a list of customers that dropped out of the checkout page before making a purchase. Sending a simple email to those potential customers can help you recover an otherwise lost ticket sale.

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Why Shopify?

Shopify is, in our opinion, the best ecommerce platform available today. The level of customisation offered across all areas of your ecommerce store make it extremely powerful. With all the technical aspects of running an online store taken care of, you can focus on the important bit, increasing ticket sales.

Shopify provides all the tools to offer your customers a great online shopping experience and in turn, boost your event sales, all you need to do is harness these tools and use them to your advantage.

As an official Shopify Partner, LeadDigital offer the perfect partnership to help you and your hospitality business get the most out of your online ticket store. We have built and managed many successful online stores for hospitality businesses, to help them sell more event tickets and get more room bookings. We can design, build, manage and integrate your Shopify store to suit you and your hospitality business needs.

 

Work with LeadDigital to Increase Your Event Sales

Contact Us Today

 

References

[1] Shopify, a Start-Up, Starts Its Own Business Competition. The New York Times. 2 Feb 2010.
[2] 2016 Year in Review. Shopify.
[3] Shopify Expects Revenue to Surge in 2016. Fortune. 17 Feb 2016.
[4] Shopify Announces Fourth-Quarter and Full Year 2016 Financial Results. Shopify. 15 Feb 2017.
[5] Using site speed in web search ranking. Google. 9 Apr 2010.
[6] PCI compliant shopping cart and hosting. Shopify.

Is Salesforce Right For You?

Introducing a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution into your hospitality business is a massive decision. If implemented correctly, it can create huge efficiencies within your hotel, restaurant, bar or event venue business. Not only from an employee perspective, but for the entire business. So, why choose Salesforce as your CRM provider?

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Why Salesforce?

A Brief History of Salesforce

Salesforce were founded in 1999 and went public in 2004. They currently have over 4 million users and revenue last year was over $8billion. Salesforce is the most used CRM, worldwide.

Salesforce have been around for 18 years and in that time have built a reputation as the leading CRM system worldwide, catering for many restaurants, bars, event venues and hotels in that time. They have invested billions into the Salesforce brand, which allows them to push the boundaries of what a CRM can do. Their annual R&D budget is currently in excess of $150M.

Salesforce currently have over 10,000 employees worldwide. The Salesforce Success Community has 2.5 million members, who are part of an online portal where you can collaborate with partners, developers, product specialists and other customers.

The Salesforce family is growing on a daily basis.

The Infrastructure

Salesforce owns the servers that are used to power the CRM software. This means that they have control over a huge number of aspects involved with running a multi-billion dollar software package and why it is always Lightning fast.

Whether you are in New York, Japan or London, your Salesforce installation will be powered by servers closest to your location, delivering a truly global solution.

Utilising cloud infrastructure removes the need for onsite servers and administration, along with complex security implications associated with the running of virtual private networks (VPN).

The Ecosystem

The third party Salesforce ecosystem is powered by the AppExchange. It’s true that Salesforce can’t accommodate every single niche market perfectly, but you can bet that there is a Salesforce Partner who can.

Salesforce AppExchange makes it possible to find extensions to many aspects of Salesforce, from modifying the calendar to integrating with Mailchimp. Many major software companies have built integrations for Salesforce, which really shows off the power and flexibility of the ecosystem.

The open architecture of the Salesforce platform has allowed Salesforce Partners to create software that acts as a “connector”. This allows Salesforce to communicate with hundreds of other software platforms, from accounts packages and booking systems to email. A recommended solution is Workato (https://www.workato.com/). This allows for hundreds of software solutions to effectively talk to each other, not just Salesforce.

It’s perhaps this ecosystem of partners that provides salesforce with its main competitive advantage. Similar to what Apple has been able to do with the App Store, Salesforce has been able to capture the largest share of the CRM market by enabling it’s software to talk to the widest number of external systems. This not only increases the capability of the software, it future proofs your overall business systems by allowing for replacement or upgrade of various elements over time. E.g changing or upgrading your booking systems, accounting software, email marketing, ecommerce systems, etc etc.

The Mobility

Salesforce realised the growth in the mobile market, so developed their own mobile application, called Salesforce1, available on iOS and Android. It allows you to have the benefit of Salesforce, but on the go.

Salesforce1 is built using the Lightning platform, which was developed inhouse by Salesforce, using their own proprietary code. It has over 11,000 reviews on the Google Play App Store, with an average rating of 4/5. The Apple App Store has over 3,000 reviews, with an average 4.3/5.

This shows how Salesforce innovates and can use its dominant position in the market to be able to develop the core platform as well as the mobile variant simultaneously!

The Innovation

Salesforce is a premium CRM system. That premium enables extensive development of the software at no additional cost to your business. As a Salesforce client, you will receive three major updates a year, which includes a host of upgrades and improvements, new features and integration possibilities.

Salesforce were the first company to offer an iPhone CRM app, called Salesforce Touch, back in 2013. They also pioneered App marketplaces, with the AppExchange in 2005, in comparison, Apple’s App Store didn’t surface until 2008.

The speed of change within the digital landscape coupled with the central role your CRM system plays in all business operations means that stability and investment from your chosen vendor is secure. No other CRM system has invested or continues to invest at the scale in which Salesforce continues to do.

The Scalability

One of the great aspects of Salesforce for hospitality is that it’s suitable for businesses of all sizes. Not only will it support small hotels, bars, restaurants and venues, its already supporting complex hospitality businesses, such as Caesars Palace, Quintessentially and Opentable.

This provides great comfort, in the fact that, it is possible to grow Salesforce with your hospitality company and provide Lightning speed, no matter how many users or customer accounts you control.

With the Salesforce API (Application Programming Interface), there are hundreds of possible integrations, so no matter if you move to another accounting system or change your ecommerce systems, there will be a solution to integrate Salesforce within that ecosystem.

The Affordability

Salesforce can start as low as £20/month per user, which is perfect for small hospitality businesses and start-ups. You get access to many of the features mentioned here including the huge community and resources that Salesforce provide and three free upgrades a year.

If more users are required or you have a more complicated booking and sales process, Lighting Professional and Lighting Enterprise allow for more bespoke customisation and open up more features of the Salesforce platform. Prices for the upgrades range from £65 to £120 per user, per month.

The Support

Ongoing support with a system as critical as CRM is an important consideration. As more and more systems become integrated together, so the overall solution increases in complexity.

Although other CRM systems exist with similar core Salesforce integrations, no other solution offers the range of vendors to provide ongoing support and development.

Salesforce as a system is constantly growing and evolving, with new features added every year. Because of this, the solution will need ongoing support and development, so Salesforce have many Salesforce Partners, who can support and maintain any implementation at an additional cost.

To put the scale of their partner network into perspective, Salesforce host a yearly event, called Dreamforce. Dreamforce ’16 was attended by over 171,000 people, from 83 countries. Over 15 million people participated online, and for the first time, 125 viewing parties were hosted, globally.

Conclusion

The Salesforce platform will allow you to grow every part of your hospitality company within an integrated suite of business applications. Monitor and manage everything from bookings and sales leads to customer support, and from digital marketing to website analytics — all from any desktop or device.

 

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CRM and the Hospitality Industry

What is CRM?

CRM, Customer Relationship Management.

It’s not a new concept, especially not for the Hospitality Industry. It is exactly what it says on the tin. It is all about building relationships with your customers, from their first interaction with your brand right through to customer service and beyond.

Hotel Lobby Guest Check-In and CRM Database

The practice existed long before the development of the computer. But, computers, the world wide web and all the applications these technology developments brought with them, have changed the way we manage and utilise these relationships. With it, came the birth of the acronym CRM and the systems it represents.

The days of guest books in hotel lobby’s, large filing cabinets and spreadsheets filled out by hand with all your enquiry and customer information are long gone, and only a small percentage of you will recall those days. But, the practice still remains the same. Today, rather than a guest book, the smart money would be investing in a tablet kiosk (or similar), which is connected to a CRM system that stores the data entered by guests to their customer profile. This is the bread and butter of a CRM system; storing collected customer data and providing easily referenceable metrics. They support your marketing and sales teams through every step of your customer’s journey and ultimately enable you to increase sales and customer retention.

The goal of implementing a CRM is to create a system that your sales and marketing teams can use and automatically supports them, to more efficiently and effectively interact with existing and potential customers or clients.

SIZE doesn’t matter

CRM systems are not just useful to large hospitality companies, they are essential to Hotels, Restaurants and Event companies of all sizes. Christopher Ratcliff provides a perfect analogy that is equally poignant as it is long in his article on Econsultancy.com, under the sub-heading CRM explained.

The argument being, if you only have a handful of customers, you may feel a spreadsheet and some simple rules between colleagues can get you by. But, what if (god forbid) your business hits its targets and you double or quadruple your customer base, let alone the additional prospects and visitors to your website… this could get a bit messy and end up costing you resources and time.

CRM systems aren’t closed off personal accounts, they track every interaction visitors, prospects and customers have with your company and make the information available to your entire team. So if Katherine, suddenly comes down with the flu and is off work at a key stage in a customer’s transaction, a colleague can review the interactions by searching for that customer on the CRM tool and pick up where Katherine left off.

So, how do your teams use CRM?

Marketers will often use a CRM to ensure that they’re passing the right leads to their sales team, which is a key aspect of developing a strong relationship with the sales team. They also use the tracking data available today through smart CRM systems to assess the success of certain types of content and distribution channels.

Salespeople utilise CRM in a different way. They use it to source prospective customers, communicate with them, and track their interactions over time. Having the entire prospect history in one place increases their efficiency and improves their productivity. For instance, salespeople using a CRM won’t have to hunt through their email to remember where a conversation left off.

CRM can also have a huge impact on improving your customer experience.

What does this mean for you?

According to Hubspot; 75% of sales managers say that using a CRM helps to drive and increase sales, also stating that CRM systems improve customer retention by 27%.

You can’t argue with those numbers.

“I think the acquisition of consumers might be on the verge of being mapped. The battlefield is going to be retention and lifetime value.” – Gary Vaynerchuk, via TechCrunch.

 

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Further Reading: See why Salesforce CRM is a great fit for you.