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Know Thy Customer

John Ische

John Ische
President & CEO
Trisept Solutions

When the phrase “definition of CRM” was searched in Google, the following was found: Customer relationship management (CRM) is a term that refers to practices, strategies and technologies that companies use to manage and analyze customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle, with the goal of improving business relationships with customers, assisting in customer retention and driving sales growth.

Sounds like something we all want, and certainly a goal worth striving for…improving business relationships with customers, assisting in customer retention and driving sales growth. Forbes / Entrepreneurs, in the article “Why Your Small Business Needs CRM”1 states, “A CRM…is probably one of the most valuable systems that any small business can implement,” and The Management Study Guide states2 “[a] CRM system provides a well-defined platform for all business units to interact with their customers and fulfill all their needs and demands very effectively to build long-term relationships.

” Yet, some recent research shows many travel agents today do not fully utilize the capabilities of their current CRM for a variety of reasons and many other are not even committed to using a CRM tool. The Travel Agency Technology Survey, published in December, 2013, indicated that close to half of all travel agents surveyed do not use CRM. Luke Wallace recently published an article online in MarketingProfs3 discussing why many salespeople across all industries do not use a CRM system. His research identified several reasons, some of which include: they are too time-consuming, they are costly, they don’t integrate well, there is too much manual entry and it is difficult to access the system remotely. You may have found yourself with the same mindset, CRM is too time-consuming or there is too much manual entry. You may have even purchased a CRM system but find it costly or difficult to use.

In a loyalty study executed by a major cruise line, they analyzed passengers on their ships over a five year timeframe and found, while many of their guests traveled on their brand multiple times during that time period, less than 25% of those passengers used the same travel advisor or agency for the following booking onboard their ships. . We all know that it is much more costly to gain a new client than it is to retain a current client. So why, in the travel industry, is client retention so significantly lower than other industries? Is there a correlation between the lack of focus upon CRM and the challenges for travel advisors to retain current clients at levels that match other sales or service organizations? If you are currently using a CRM system, you are to be congratulated. You have taken the first step to building a strategy around better client relationships. If you do not currently use an automated CRM system, and not to be too dramatic, but it could be the difference in success and the lack thereof of your travel business. Today is the day you are going to change how you track and document what you know about your clients. You are in the business of fulfilling vacation dreams and the more you know about your clients, the more relevant your suggestions will be.

So what should you look for in a CRM system to help make your business more successful? There are several CRM systems that have been built specifically for the travel industry and you will want to ensure the one you select will serve your business now and well into the future. Here are some of the questions you will want to ask: • Is the system easy to use? How many fields are required in a client profile before you can move forward to capturing information from the client about their vacation needs? If it is too many, you may be stuck asking a litany of questions about a client’s basic information before you can move on to the reason they called – sharing with you the excitement around what they want from their next vacation.

• Is your client information easily accessed from any device? Often CRM systems are PC based and cannot be accessed using a Mac or tablet. It is important you can work where and how it best fits you and your clients.

• Is the system Cloud based so that it is flexible and updates are automatic? Our world is moving faster and faster, waiting for updates on scheduled releases delays your ability to stay up-to-date with the latest enhancements.

• Does the system allow for the ability to manually include trip reservations, if necessary, so a client’s profile is always complete no matter what is booked? The more history you have on your client, more relevant suggestions you’ll be able to make– further demonstrating your value as a professional travel advisor

• Does the CRM system provide a full range of client preferences, including what they do/don’t like, where they do/don’t want to go, or where they have been but do/don’t want to return, down to the city level and at the specific trip level? Your client has shared they do not want to travel to a specific destination, yet they meet the demographic and psychographic criteria for a marketing piece – and it is sent in your name. Oops. Xcelerator by Trisept Solutions is a modern travel technology that seamless integrates the majority of functions you need to service your clients and run your business on one secure platform.

Xcelerator provides you:

• Easy to use and very affordable, CRM system in which you can add clients quickly and easily – no clunky formats in documenting your client’s travel requirements.

• Access client profiles on a Mac, PC or tablet, from where you want to work and where your clients want to meet.

• Continuous enhancements – it is Cloud based so you never have to wait for a release – and it includes the highest level of securities, so your information is private and protected.

• At launch the ability to access the VAX VacationAccess booking engines with single sign-on and automatically import reservations back into the client profile with no manual or duplicate entry efforts. And in early 2016 will be adding these functionalities to major cruise lines, tour operators and river cruise companies too!

• Opportunity to aggregate additional reservations into the trip so you can produce a professional Payment Summary or Itinerary that includes all elements and reservations of the vacation in one seamless document.

• Ability to document ALL of your client’s preferences from what they like and want, to what they do not like or want. Your clients travel differently, depending on with whom they are traveling and with Xcelerator, you will be able to create a trip specific profile. Ready to enhance your client relationships, increase retention and referrals and close more sales? Visit http://xcelerator.triseptsolutions.com to learn more.

1 http://www.forbes.com/sites/aileron/2013/05/01/why-your-small-business-needs-crm
2 http://managementstudyguide.com/what-is-crm.htm
3 http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2015/28885/five-crm-systems-your-salespeople-will-actually-use-article-1-of-2?adref=nlt111715