Daniel-2023
April 22, 2024

Hotel CRM vs Hotel Chatbot: which is more profitable?

Find out why a chatbot is more cost-effective than a CRM for your hotel.

Introduction

In the dynamic and competitive hospitality sector, technological innovation is crucial to optimise operations and significantly enrich the guest experience. 

In this environment, hotel chatbots powered by artificial intelligence and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems tailored for hotels stand out, transforming customer relationship management in complementary and innovative ways.

CRMs are important because they enable hotels to track guests’ preferences and behaviours in detail, which facilitates in-depth service personalisation. However, chatbots add an additional dimension, offering immediate and personalised responses to guests’ queries at any time, without incurring the operational costs of human staff. 

This ability to provide continuous service and collect valuable data on guests’ preferences underlines the potential for hotel chatbots to improve efficiency and customer satisfaction.

To assist hotel managers in the process of making informed decisions about which technology they should prioritise, this article will explore and compare two key technology foundations: artificial intelligence-powered chatbots and Customer Relationship Management systems specifically designed for the hospitality sector.

Let’s first delve into the nature and purpose of CRM systems, which are fundamental to the personalisation of services for guests.

What is a CRM and what is it for? 

A CRM, or Customer Relationship Management system is a tool used in business to manage and review customer interactions over time. 

A CRM is basically software designed to bring together all customer data, including contact information, purchase histories, and preferences. This makes it easier for companies to offer services that are more tailored to the individual needs of each customer. 

What is a Hotel CRM? 

Within the hotel sector, hotel CRM specialises in adapting to the individual requirements of hotels and guesthouses, with an emphasis on managing guest information and preferences. 

A hotel CRM is used to track detailed guest preferences and needs, organise and manage bookings, execute targeted and personalised marketing campaigns, and record customer interactions to analyse trends and behavioural patterns. On our CRM integrations page, you can find some examples.

This detailed monitoring and analysis enables hotels to tailor their services more effectively to their guests’ expectations, from personalising the room to offering unique experiences during their stay. 

In addition, an effective hotel CRM contributes to the automation of certain operational and communication tasks, improving the efficiency and productivity of hotel staff. This may include automating booking confirmation emails, check-in/check-out reminders, and post-stay satisfaction surveys. 

Did you know?
CRM systems are particularly relevant in large hotels and hotel chains, where their ability to generate value is high. In contrast, for hotels with lower guest volumes and limited resources, both in terms of staff and investment in marketing campaigns, the impact of a CRM may not be as significant.

It is essential to understand these differences and where and how a CRM system can be most effectively integrated into the overall strategy of a hotel.

After understanding CRM, let’s move on to explore hotel chatbots, an innovation that introduces a new dimension to guest interaction.

Blog post — staff shortage hotel crm vs hotel chatbot: which is more profitable?

What is a hotel chatbot and what is it for?

Chatbots are artificial intelligence systems designed to simulate conversations with human users through digital interfaces. These technological tools are programmed to perform a wide range of tasks, from answering frequently asked questions to facilitating bookings and providing personalised recommendations.

In the hotel environment, these intelligent systems are specially designed to adapt to the specific needs of hotels and their guests, handling queries 24 hours a day and providing instant answers to customers’ questions, which significantly improves satisfaction and a user’s experience. 

In addition to the functions already mentioned, hotel chatbots also play a crucial role during the pre-stay phase, improving communication with guests prior to their arrival. This includes sending booking confirmations and reminders, as well as providing useful information about the hotel and its services. 

Other tools include messages based on behavioural marketing tools, which allow segmentation based on data extracted from an integrated PMS.

Chatbots can personalise interactions by sending personalised welcome messages and offering options for room upgrades or additional services, encouraging guests to enhance their experience before they even arrive at the hotel. 

These platforms also have the ability to automate the check-in and check-out process, manage room service requests, collect guest feedback efficiently and provide personalised recommendations based on guest preferences. 

By integrating with other digital platforms and hotel management systems, chatbots offer a cohesive and flawless user experience, from the time of booking to the end of the stay.

Chatbots
Using chatbots in hotels is not limited to large establishments; their flexibility and scalability make them equally valuable for smaller hotels. With a relatively low initial investment and low maintenance costs, chatbots (such as HiJiffy’s) present a cost-effective solution for improving guest communication and optimising hotel operations.

Which departments benefit from these two technologies?

It is essential to delve deeper into how these virtual assistants can benefit a wider range of teams within a hotel, offering innovative solutions that improve both internal operations and the guest experience. We have made this comparison to help hoteliers understand the extent of the impact of each type of software.

Specific uses of chatbots for hotel departments

  • Reservations Management: Automating bookings through chatbots significantly improves administrative efficiency and enriches the booking experience for guests.
    • Virtual assistants are a user-friendly interface, providing instant responses from booking to confirmation, simplifying the process and easing the workload of staff. 
    • And they generally have an automation rate of more than 80%.

  • Reception and Customer Service: Chatbots free front-desk staff from repetitive tasks by autonomously handling frequently asked questions, booking of services and hotel information requests.
    • The hotel’s team can focus on delivering personalised and memorable experiences during check-in and check-out, and on managing specific guest needs that require human attention. 
    • They can also carry out other tasks such as upselling that promote revenue growth.

  • Sales and Marketing Team: Through direct interactions with customers, chatbots collect valuable information about preferences and behaviours.
    • Data is critical to the sales and marketing team, enabling them to design personalised marketing campaigns and offers that increase direct sales and build customer loyalty, without having to rely entirely on CRM systems for data analysis. 
    • In addition, the team can use the data and reports from the platform itself for decision-making.

  • Operations, Maintenance and Cleaning: Through the integration of the housekeeping and maintenance teams, chatbots allow guests to easily report any incident or request, from a room breakdown to a specific cleaning request.
    • Therefore, only the relevant staff receive immediate alerts, enabling fast and efficient action, which not only improves guests’ satisfaction, but also the hotel’s operational efficiency.

  • Event and Banquet Management: a chatbot can assist in the management of events and banquets, facilitating the booking of venues, coordinating special customer requirements and effectively communicating event details.
    • It ensures an organised and satisfying experience for both organisers and attendees.

  • Concierge Services: Extending their usefulness, chatbots can provide personalised recommendations for activities, restaurants and local attractions, providing detailed information about them and facilitating bookings for these services.
    • It has a positive impact on the overall guest experience during their stay. 
    • Even with some integrations, the sale of these experiences can occur within the chatbot itself.

Specific uses of CRMs for hotel departments

  • Reservations Management: A CRM centralises and efficiently manages bookings, providing staff with a holistic view of the customer journey.
    • Personalisation of interactions based on a guest’s preferences and booking history is facilitated, which improves satisfaction and builds loyalty. 
    • Automation of communications and optimisation of occupancy are other key benefits of implementing a CRM in this area.

  • Reception and Customer Service: Thanks to a CRM, reception staff can quickly access relevant guest information, such as personal preferences and stay history, allowing them to offer a highly personalised service.
    • This significantly improves the guest experience from the moment they check-in, as well as streamlining the handling of requests and complaints.

  • Sales and Marketing Team: A CRM is essential for these teams, as it enables effective market segmentation, personalisation of offers and the development of more impactful marketing campaigns.
    • By analysing guest data, strategies can be devised to increase direct bookings and customer retention, thereby improving the hotel’s financial performance.

Compared to CRMs, chatbots offer a broader and more straightforward set of practical applications for a wider range of departments within a hotel. From facilitating booking management and providing immediate customer support, to improving operational efficiency in maintenance and cleaning, chatbots are proving to be versatile tools that positively impact a wider range of operational areas. 

While CRMs delve deeper into guest data analysis and service personalisation, chatbots offer immediate solutions and process automation, making them a priority for implementation due to their ability to directly improve the guest experience and operational efficiency across a wider range of departments. 

This broad range of applications not only makes chatbots a relevant technological solution, but also a strategic investment to improve customer service and internal hotel operations, establishing them as a highly valuable and priority option for establishments looking to innovate and optimise their services.

CRM or hotel chatbot, which should I prioritise?

Faced with the challenge of improving guest experience and operational efficiency within often limited budgets, hotels must make strategic decisions about technology adoption. 

The table below provides a direct comparison between chatbots and CRM systems, two essential technologies, assessing their impact and cost-effectiveness for the hotel industry against common challenges faced by hotels. It serves as a guide for hotel managers, highlighting how each solution aligns with industry priorities such as ensuring consistent customer service, personalising the guest experience and improving operations.

Comparison table: General functionalities

Common ProblemChatbotCRMExplanation
Customer service outside working hoursHighLowChatbots offer 24/7 support, unlike CRMs.
Complexity and slowness of the booking processHighMediumChatbots speed up bookings with immediate interaction.
Poor proactive communication with guestsHighMediumChatbots initiate communication automatically, outperforming CRMs.
Inefficiency in the handling of requests during stayHighLowChatbots handle requests automatically, unlike CRMs.
Low personalisation of servicesHighMediumChatbots personalise interactions more effectively than CRMs through AI technology.
Lack of omni-channel integrationHighMediumChatbots offer better integration with multiple platforms than CRMs.
Language barriers with international guestsHighLowChatbots overcome language barriers better than CRMs, providing support in over 130 languages.
Difficulties in measuring customer satisfactionMediumHighCRMs may have an advantage in deep analytics, but chatbots collect instant feedback.
Increase in direct bookingsHighMediumChatbots facilitate direct bookings with fewer steps than CRMs and in an automated way.
Inefficient handling of guest complaints and requestsHighLowChatbots resolve queries in real time, whereas CRMs can lag behind by not providing instant responses to the guest.
Lack of post-stay follow-upMediumHighCRMs handle long-term follow-up better, but chatbots also contribute with review request messages and satisfaction forms.
Difficulties in managing peak demandHighMediumChatbots scale up better during peak demand without additional costs, by working in a largely automated way.
Limited access to guest data and insightsMediumHighCRMs are superior at storing and analysing large volumes of data.
Slow and outdated check-in/out processesHighMediumChatbots offer fast, digital check-in/out solutions, integrated into the solution.
Online review and feedback managementMediumHighWhile CRMs can analyse reviews, chatbots make it easier to collect feedback.

It is clear that chatbots offer significant advantages for hotel operations in several key areas. 

The ability to provide seamless customer service, personalise interactions effectively, and automate responses, along with easy integration and efficient management of enquiries and bookings, positions chatbots as a highly impactful technology solution. 

In addition, their ability to reduce staff workload, ease of use and learning, along with relatively low implementation and maintenance costs, not only make chatbots a powerful tool for improving guests’ satisfaction, but also a means to optimise hotel operations.

A question of priority and immediate impact
Although CRM systems provide extensive customer relationship management and data analytics capabilities, chatbots stand out for their agility, operational efficiency and improved customer experience. This suggests that for many hotels, starting by adopting chatbots may represent a more influential and quicker-to-implement strategy before considering or integrating a CRM system.

Advantages of Chatbots over CRMs

In addition to complementing CRMs, chatbots present unique advantages, such as 24/7 availability, a significant reduction in labour costs, remarkable scalability, and the ability to foster deeper user engagement through conversational interactions. 

This uninterrupted availability removes the time constraints of human support, while a chatbot’s ability to handle a large volume of queries simultaneously and in a scalable manner ensures a consistent customer experience, even during peaks in demand. These are the aspects that make chatbots stand out the most:

  • Availability: One of the main strengths of chatbots is their ability to provide 24/7 customer service.
  • Profitability: Implementing chatbots represents a significant reduction in the labour costs associated with a large customer service team. You can get an idea of the ROI, by using this calculator.
  • Scalability: Scalability is another considerable advantage of chatbots over CRMs, easily adapting to peaks in demand without the need for additional resources.
  • User Commitment: These virtual assistants introduce a conversational dimension to guest interactions that goes beyond static CRM interfaces, fostering greater engagement and a more personalised experience.

Therefore, they not only improve hotel operations by complementing the functionalities of CRM systems, but also introduce operational efficiencies and enrich the customer experience in a unique way. 

By offering seamless service, saving on labour costs, adapting easily to demand and promoting more intimate and personalised engagement, they are positioned as indispensable tools in the digital transformation of the hospitality industry.

Critique of CRM Systems

Although CRM systems bring undoubted benefits to hotel management, they have certain limitations, particularly when contrasted with the more dynamic and adaptive capabilities of chatbots.

These differences are evident in areas such as interaction capabilities, user experience and reliance on manual data entry.

Limited Interaction Capabilities

CRM systems, by design, tend to be reactive rather than proactive. This means that while they are effective at managing and storing guests’ information, their ability to initiate meaningful and personalised interactions is limited. 

In contrast, hotel chatbots are designed to be inherently proactive, capable of starting conversations, making personalised recommendations and resolving queries instantly. 

This proactive engagement capability not only improves the guest experience, but can also increase sales and brand loyalty by anticipating guests’ needs and providing solutions in a timely manner.

User Experience

The user experience in CRM systems often suffers from complex and non-intuitive interfaces. These interfaces can require a significant learning curve for both hotel staff and guests accessing self-service portals. 

In contrast, guest communication platforms (such as HiJiffy’s) offer a natural and friendly conversational interface, making interaction with the system by hotel teams much more accessible and enjoyable, and requiring much less complex training for the teams using it. 

The ability to understand and process natural language allows users to communicate with them as they would with a human, removing barriers and improving customer satisfaction.

Dependence on Manual Data Entry

One of the most significant challenges of CRM systems is their reliance on manual data entry. This process is not only tedious but also error-prone, which can lead to inaccurate or incomplete customer information. In addition, manual data entry takes up valuable time that could be spent on more productive and value-added tasks. 

In contrast, hotel chatbots automate the capture of data through their interactions with customers. This automation not only reduces errors, but also frees up staff to focus on delivering richer, more personalised guest experiences, such as upselling and cross-selling services. 

The ability of chatbots to efficiently and accurately collect and analyse data is invaluable in creating detailed customer profiles, which in turn improves the personalisation and effectiveness of marketing communications.

While CRM systems have been a cornerstone of customer relationship management in the hospitality industry, criticisms of these platforms highlight the need for more dynamic and adaptive solutions. 

Chatbots, with their ability to proactively interact, deliver intuitive user experiences and automate data collection, represent an essential complement and, in many cases, a superior alternative to traditional CRM systems. Especially those that integrate more dynamic technologies such as conversational AI and generative AI. 

The combination of these technologies can provide hotels with a competitive edge, aligning their operations with the expectations of modern customers.

The table below highlights how chatbots, with their advanced artificial intelligence, are positioned as tools strategically aligned with the demands of hotels, often outperforming CRM systems in critical areas.

Comparison table: Specific features

FeatureChatbotCRM
24/7 automated responses
Straightforward and simplified booking process
Automated welcome messages and reminders
Personalisation of the guest experience
Omni-channel integration with social networks and messaging
Customised marketing campaigns and promotions
Automated management of service requests
Digital check-in/check-out
Collection and analysis of guest feedback
Multilingual support for international guests
Seamless transfer to human agents when needed
Data analysis to improve the guest experience
Dynamic personalisation based on conversational AI
Effective management of loyalty campaigns
Facilitation of review collection and online feedback management

Chatbots significantly improve guest interaction through immediate responses and multilingual support, and streamline internal operations by automating tasks and efficiently delegating responsibilities. 

Their ability to personalise communication and tailor marketing campaigns to specific user preferences underlines their versatility to dynamically respond to both operational and guests’ needs. 

While CRMs remain valuable for their customer relationship management and data analytics, chatbots are emerging as more flexible solutions, focused on directly enhancing the customer experience and operational efficiency in hospitality, making them a smart investment for hotels looking to innovate and improve their service.

CRM as a Complementary Tool to Chatbot

Integrate CRM systems with chatbots, such as Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics 365 not only reinforces this vision, but also merges automation with highly personalised customer interaction, raising the standard of communications. 

This combination elevates CRM functionality, optimising data entry and lead qualification through real-time analysis of customer interactions. In addition, chatbots improve guests’ satisfaction by reducing wait times for essential information, marking a milestone in the way hotels interact and maintain relationships with their guests.

Integration and Automation

This synergy between chatbots and CRM opens up new avenues to personalise the guest experience, offering a robust platform so that hotels not only meet their guests’ needs more efficiently and effectively, but also stay ahead of them, ensuring their competitiveness in an increasingly fast-paced and digitised market.

This innovative solution is designed to be flexible and affordable, meeting not only the needs of large hotel chains, but also smaller independent hotels that may not yet be ready to commit to a comprehensive CRM solution. 

Understanding the unique challenges faced by smaller establishments, including budget and human resources constraints, the chatbot, with CRM integration, offers a simplified and cost-effective option. 

It bridges the gap by providing an essential set of tools that empower both small and large hotels in the hospitality industry to improve their guest relationships, streamline operations and increase overall satisfaction without the need for a substantial upfront investment or extensive training.

Immediate Response

While CRM systems have laid the foundation for detailed customer relationship management, chatbots stand out as the necessary evolution towards more dynamic, personalised and efficient interaction, marking the future of hospitality in the digital era based on conversational AI and generative AI.

Successful Case Studies:

Magic Costa Blanca, a major Spanish hotel chain, has taken technological integration to a new level by leveraging its CRM integration with HiJiffy’s chatbot. This collaboration allows the automatic collection of vital guest information, including names, phone numbers and emails, directly within the CRM. 

This merger not only facilitates real-time data updates, but also significantly enhances the hotel’s ability to personalise the guest experience. 

Similarly, Pestana Hotels has optimised its customer relationship management by using the integration of its CRM with the HiJiffy chatbot, facilitating much more efficient and accurate data updates. 

This seamless integration has ensured that all guest preferences and requests captured by the chatbot are instantly reflected in the CRM, allowing hotel staff to access up-to-date information to make informed decisions.

 A clear benefit of this integration is the ability to quickly tailor offers and services to specific guest preferences, increasing service personalisation and customer satisfaction.

Conclusion

It is clear that chatbots, powered by artificial intelligence, are essential to improve customer service and operational efficiency. Their ability to interact autonomously and personalise the service makes them a fundamental tool, marking a milestone in the evolution of the sector.

The implementation of chatbots is not only a technological improvement, but also a key strategy to stay competitive in the digital market. While integration with CRM systems can deepen customer management, the immediate value and versatility of chatbots alone is unquestionable.

They represent an investment in the future of hospitality, positioning hotels at the forefront of innovation. We urge hoteliers to consider the adoption of chatbots as a priority step. 

Don’t wait any longer; transform your level of service, guest service and operations by implementing a chatbot today, and take the lead in hotel innovation. 

To see how this type of guest communication platform can positively impact your business, book a demo.

Daniel-2023
Marketing Specialist Spain

Latest Articles

Hotel CRM vs Hotel Chatbot: which is more profitable?

Hotel CRM vs Hotel Chatbot: which is more profitable?

Find out why a chatbot is more cost-effective than a CRM for your hotel.

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