MONTEREY, CALIF.—As GuestWare administrator at the scenic, Five Star Diamond Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa, Mike Sturgill is not afraid to push the software to its limit. In a little more than a year’s time, GuestWare has become the customer relationship tool he uses to manage the Monterey, Calif.-based hotel’s loyalty program, respond to guest requests, track the frequency, type and cost of incidents, market to potential customers and manage comment card data.
Give Sturgill some time and he just might find more ways to use GuestWare to improve guest satisfaction, cut costs and generate new business leads.
Since March 2002, Sturgill has been a leading proponent of using GuestWare to manage the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa’s Plaza Preferred Club guest loyalty program. It includes five levels of rewards for frequent guests.
“After guests stay five nights, they get their first reward,” Sturgill says.
To develop the loyalty program, a list of 60,000 guest names and addresses was pulled from the hotel’s Hotel Information Systems property management system. A mailing with an application for the Plaza Preferred Club was sent to those 60,000 addresses.
“We received 3,000 requests to join the club,” Sturgill says. “We thought that was very good.”
Information from those 3,000 applications, including preferences regarding activities and meals, was entered into GuestWare. Because GuestWare enables a hotel to track guest preferences, it was the perfect solution for the Plaza Preferred Club. Sturgill created a special category within GuestWare, under “Guest Preferences,” called “Plaza Preferred.” Now, when a guest’s record is accessed, it is quickly apparent whether or not that guest is a Preferred guest.
Repeat Guests Easily Identified
GuestWare’s Guest Recognition feature automatically builds and maintains a database of the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa’s repeat guests through an ODBC interface with the HIS PMS. GuestWare’s unique matching process compares expected arrivals with past customers to identify each repeat guest. It also detects duplicates and questionable matches to ensure the hotel’s repeat guests get the special attention they deserve.
Having a Plaza Preferred category and preferences within GuestWare allows hotel staff to query on these fields and generate a mailing targeted specifically toward club members.
“Now we can send a golf package letter to those frequent guests interested in golf,” Sturgill says. “GuestWare also enables us to recognize anniversaries and birthdays. Because I input anniversary dates into GuestWare, I can offer special Romantic Packages to guests.”
In the 60,000-piece mailing to prospective club members, recipients also were asked whether or not they are involved in meeting planning decisions. Those who said they are involved are identified within GuestWare as corporate or social customers.
“We can generate a list of those types of customers for our sales department,” Sturgill says. “They can then do cold calling to those prospects.”
Guest Response Process Accelerates
In addition to helping the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa manage its loyalty program, GuestWare also enables hotel staff to respond to guest requests quickly and effectively. When a guest calls the switchboard operator with a request, the operator logs it into GuestWare and notifies the appropriate staff person by radio.
GuestWare’s Rapid Response screen features customizable hot buttons and drill-down menus to enable the operator to quickly log the request. While a staff member works to solve the problem, GuestWare displays it as an open request. After a problem is solved, the staff member then radios the operator, who then closes the incident. GuestWare alerts the dispatcher when a request is overdue and sorts new calls by elapsed time.
GuestWare’s Incident Tracking feature enables Sturgill to run reports that graphically illustrate the most common problems and the amount of time taken to respond to them. Sturgill generates such reports on a daily basis and gives them to the hotel’s operations manager.
“Every Monday I run outstanding work order, open incident and elapsed time reports,” he says.
While calls from guests are funneled through the switchboard operator into GuestWare, calls from employees regarding maintenance issues or guest preferences go to a hotline in Sturgill’s office.
“After I access those messages, I go into GuestWare, input the incidents and create work orders,” Sturgill says. “Housekeeping uses that line a lot. It is also used by a lot of our other departments. They know that a work order will be generated when they call that line. Our maintenance department is much better organized now. Before GuestWare, we used a very time-consuming, manual system to track repairs. GuestWare has improved our efficiency and gives us the opportunity to do preventive maintenance before a problem occurs.”
GuestWare provides Sturgill and his associates with the ability to quickly and easily track the cost of adjustments. Oftentimes, guests will dispute charges related to in-room movies or valet parking.
“A lot of adjustments are made at the time of checkout or after a guest leaves,” Sturgill says. “Our accounting department sends me the adjustments in the form of vouchers and links them to our GuestWare accounts. That helps me to catch close to 100 percent of our adjustments. GuestWare also allows me to generate a report of the 10 most expensive incidents. The reports draw management’s attention to those areas.”
Comment Card System Simplified
The Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa uses GuestWare’s Comment Card Tracking to log and analyze comment card responses. That feature in GuestWare is an ideal fit for the hotel that has a guest satisfaction goal of 90 percent favorable comment cards.
“GuestWare provides a quick way to view comment card results,” Sturgill says. “Pie charts show percentages of positive and negative responses for each area of concern. It’s helped draw attention to issues that need to be addressed. It makes us aware of things that happen that we don’t want to happen.”
The hotel uses GuestWare to log results from comment cards generated from guestrooms, the front desk, conferences and from weddings and social events.
“Using Comment Card Tracking, I print a monthly report for the general manager,” Sturgill says. “The general manager then uses those reports when he goes to the owners to discuss the hotel’s performance.”
About the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa:
The Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa is owned and managed by San Mateo, Calif.-based Woodside Hotels & Resorts. The 290-room luxury, Monterey, Calif.-based property is perched over the waters of Monterey Bay. For more information, go to www.woodsidehotels.com, or call 800-368-2468.
GuestWare, Customer Relationship Management software for the lodging industry, is developed, marketed, implemented and supported by Diversified Computer Corp., Seattle. GuestWare is installed in more than 700 hotels worldwide. Call (888) 504-8378 for more information.