Monday, January 29, 2007

Eye for Travel CRM Part II

I am glad to report that the remaining speakers at the recent Eye for Travel CRM conference in San Fransisco improved significantly from the first panel, (my prior blog entry). Eye for Travel still doesn't get some of the basics of running a conference in 2007 (free WiFi, plugs for laptops, active blog), but despite these short comings, the Eye for Travel CRM conference was very valuable.

My biggest "aha" moment came at the end of day one with the session entitled "Discover how integrating CRM with Pricing and RM can maximize revenue" (Session Four on Day 1). My readers will recall my frequent theme concerning true dynamic packaging - hooking into existing revenue management systems (RM) on the back-end and CRM systems on the front end to deliver content that maximizes revenue for the supplier while targeting the company's best customers. This theme was at the heart of this session. Here's some highlights:

  • Rom Hendler, VP of Strategic Marketing at The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino gave an excellent review of how difficult it is to identify who is the best customer. He showed various ways to measure the profitability of a given customer (frequency, amount of purchases, etc..) demonstrating that defining the best customer is not a simple measure of revenue generated by the guest
  • Dave Pelter , VP of Supplier Development & Pricing at Farecast showed how their technology is the next evolution in meta-search. Farecast provides the consumer the ability to target low prices through their predictive fare logic challenging traditional RM systems
  • Cameron Davies, Sr. Manager, Customer Centric Revenue Management, Walt Disney Hotels and Resorts showed how understanding consumer demand and requirements should be part of a comprehensive revenue management strategy
This and other sessions that featured airlines (Delta, British Airways, JetBlue, Southwest, Alaska & American), hoteliers (Best Western, Starwood, Fairmont) and OTAs (Travelocity, Expedia) provided a wealth of insight into various segment's efforts to capture loyalty and provide a common personalized approach to the customer at every touch point.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Eye for Travel CRM conference

I am attending a new conference today in San Francisco: "CRM and the Travel Industry" organized by the Eye for Travel organization. So far, the main focus of the speakers has been on customer service (training employees on the importance of the customer). There is no doubt that the human interaction element of CRM is a key in keeping customers happy, but so far there has been limited discussion of technology that is needed to provide the infrastructure to support CRM at every touch point. Jon Marnela from Fairmont did mention the fact that a consumer's profile is sent down to the property's PMS system. British Airways establishes a score based on corporate relationships and influence to develop a score for each traveler

In my view is that CRM is more than customer care. Yes it is true that technology is not a CRM solution, but without the proper infrastructure, executing on CRM will likely fails. So far there has been no mention of Web 2.0 and the new role of customer generated content on the CRM process.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Dynamic Packaging or Shopping Cart?

When I authored the report on Dynamic Packaging I had high hopes that we were on the brink of a new era; one which the value of a customer and the need for inventory management were both satisfied through an end-to-end solution. I apologize for using this hackney phrase, but my reference to the concept of end-to-end in this context means satisfying customer needs in a profitable manner. In that research study I described the ultimate dynamic packaging system where the users preferences were stored, filtering content, while supply levels had a "just in time" quality, controlled by direct connections into revenue management software. Well its 2007 and we've had some movement such as the success of HBSI in connecting to a variety of PMS. Some of the Travel.2.0 start-ups have implemented personalization techniques using AJAX, but overall no one has implemented a true end-to-end implementation

A question prompted by some work with a new client concerns the true nature of a dynamic packaging system verses a travel shopping cart. The ability to simply put items in a basket with opaque prices that adjusts the total based on a rules engine is a typical way "dynamic packaging" is being implemented today. Examples of this style of shopping cart based dynamic packaging can be found at a number of sites using a variety of technology solutions. The key element missing in these implementations is not dynamic packaging, but dynamic pricing. The ability to adjust the overall price based on relationship between the components and ultimately the value of the customer is missing from most of these implementations. This vision of the ultimate in dynamic packaging is still an admirable objective, but so far the market has not reached this ultmate goal.