CRM: What Do I Do with It?    

Last week, we featured Part One of a three-part series of articles Richard D’Ambrosio wrote for Travel Market Report about Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems. The following is taken from the second of his articles, CRM Part Two: What Do I Do with It?

Before you embark on the acquisition of a CRM tool, or review your existing platform to see if it fits your long-term goals, it’s best to first think about the activities you will need to master and commit to, in order to maximize your time and financial investment.

While there are many activities a good CRM tool performs for a business, the core functions are: 1) acquiring and qualifying sales leads; 2) marketing to new and existing clients; and 3) business planning and forecasting. Learning how a CRM helps perform these functions, and how they integrate with other tools that supplement your CRM, is crucial.

1. Acquiring and qualifying sales leads

Most advanced CRM tools, like Sabre Corp.’s ClientBase, offer the ability to build forms at an agency’s website, to encourage the client to share more information directly into your CRM, and tie that data into marketing codes.

Most CRM tools allow agents to customize fields and codes to their agency’s preference. Agents can add specific activity categories a client prefers, such as Adventure, Culinary/Wine, Boating/Sailing, or Safari Destinations. Having this level of detail handy when a customer is on the phone can enhance the client’s experience and improve an agent’s ability to consult with the customer.

2. Marketing to new and existing clients

The real power of a CRM comes when a customer database can be leveraged to regularly market targeted offers to large numbers of existing prospects and clients. For agents who are part of a host agency or consortia, a lot of their marketing can be automated. Networks like Virtuoso and Signature fully integrate their marketing campaigns based on the CRM information that an advisor provides and whatever communications for which their clients opt in.

Most CRMs offer a minimum level of email marketing campaign measurement, like open rates and click-through rates, helping agents understand what types of emails perform the best and what calls to action get the best responses. Paired with an agent’s website tracking data (e.g. page views, bounce rate, etc.), advisors should have a sufficient amount of information to fine-tune their marketing.

3. Business planning and forecasting

Another key benefit of having a CRM is the ability to forecast sales and develop a marketing plan and budget to assist you in reaching your goals. For example, Avoya Travel’s CRM allows agents to run reports of total production. Also helpful are visual charts and graphs that depict close rates, opportunities to increase repeat clients, and estimated monthly commission for the next year.

Agents have found that paid advertising works, but, to do that, they need to know where bookings come from, what types of ads are working, and, most importantly, what the revenue and profits from those campaigns look like. A CRM tool linking bookings, contacts, and sales lead sources can help agents create and refine those marketing campaigns.

Other uses can add up the dollars

Many agents also find that CRM tools drive time-savings. In a business where time is money, travel advisors can justify subscribing to a CRM if they can reallocate the time saved to other endeavors that either increase client satisfaction/retention or allow them to perform other revenue-building activities.

For instance, advisors can use CRM tools to automate sending pre-departure tips and reminder communications, like final payment, following up on travel insurance quotes and calling to welcome a customer home. But, while software can automate touchpoints for agents and help them be more efficient, agents are cautioned to not forget the importance of the personal touch.

For more learning about CRMs, register for Part Two of Richard D’Ambrosio’s three-part training, CRM 102: Setting You Up for Success, May 6, 2019 at 1:00 pm (EDT). And watch for the final installment of Richard’s articles in Hot Tip Tuesday coming out        May 28.