Skip to Main Content

Free Guides Hotel CRM: A Guide to Customer Relationship Management for Hotels

screenshots of hotel crm system

If you have a hotel and you have guests, chances are you either already have or are looking for a hotel customer relationship management (CRM) tool. This technology appears simple in theory but can be tricky in practice when it comes to connecting all the dots between your hotel’s guests, their data, the places you interact with these guests, and the things your team can do to help each guest have an incredible experience.

In this guide we’ll answer three simple question:

  • What exactly is a hotel CRM?
  • How does a hotel CRM work?
  • Why do you need a hotel CRM?

Even more, we’ll explain the attributes and factors that are unique to the hospitality industry that your team needs to consider when shopping for a hotel CRM like Inntopia Marketing Cloud. Let’s jump in.

What is a hotel CRM?

To understand what a hotel CRM is, we first need to start at the basics. A hotel CRM is a tool that connects two parts of your business. The first part is what you know about your guests. This is all the data you have in your property management system (PMS), maybe a POS, marketing systems, surveys, and other places your team interacts with guests. The second part is that last part, those interactions. Because every time your hotel’s team sends an email, meets them in person, chats in the call center, or reaches them with an ad or offer, each interaction will be many times more effective if it’s based on what you know about your guest.

In other words, a CRM allows you to use everything you know about your guest to enhance every interaction your guest has with your brand.

chart showing how data flows through inntopia hotel CRM system


Let’s say that Julie Jones spends a weekend at your hotel every few months with her husband and two children. They love the two bedroom suite and every morning they have breakfast together in the cafe. Now, Julie came just a few weeks ago but you’re got a soft spot in your occupancy you’re trying to fill. If you send an email to Julie about an upcoming offer, is Julie more likely to act on that offer if it’s for a midweek stay in a single king room inside an email template that includes a photo of a businesswoman working on her laptop? Or if it’s a weekend stay for a two bedroom suite and a photo of a family at the top? Likewise, if she calls your call center and they’re helping her make a reservation, you’d want that agent to see exactly what she’s done in the past to help her plan her next stay.

That’s what the functionality of a CRM does. It creates powerful opportunities for customer engagement by taking everything you know about a guest across all of your systems, cleans and structures that data, organizes it into insightful guest profiles, integrates those guest profiles into every potential touchpoint across marketing, call center, guest service, etc., and then helps automate guest service and revenue generation based on the opportunities and behaviors it identifies.

How does a hotel CRM work?

As we mentioned earlier, a CRM system in an all-in-one tool that has five primary tasks:

  • Aggregate your hotel’s guest data
  • Clean your hotel’s guest data
  • Organize that data into guest profiles
  • Integrate those profiles into guest touchpoints
  • Automate guest service based on that data

Let’s talk through each of these individually.

#1) Aggregate Your Hotel’s Guest Data

The first step is aggregating all of the data you have about your guests. This is both a one time action to load historical data but also ongoing as new data is generated through things like transactions. A hospitality CRM will create a connection to your PMS, POS, survey, marketing, and other systems to pull guest data out of those sources and into your central, hotel CRM database. This may be done in real-time, nightly, weekly, or on other frequencies depending on your needs and the constraints of those systems. Some legacy PMS platforms, for example, weren’t built to share data with other systems and trying to grab data too frequently can strain the database and interrupt your team’s access. In this case, a nightly load might be appropriate.

guest profile illustration for hotel CRM system

#2) Clean Your Hotel’s Guest Data

Next up is cleaning that data. This cleansing functionality is a vital step that is often overlooked but something that is part of the best hotel CRM platforms. To use our previous example, Julie Jones may have made bookings with her personal email address, her work email address, from her more address, from a different home address once they moved, or perhaps her husband made a couple of those bookings when she wasn’t able to. Your hotel CRM software needs to be able to recognize that all of those transactions apply to Julie’s household and avoid creating duplicate records for Julie and her family. Likewise if there was a typo or other issue in the data, a hotel CRM should be able to use many datapoints to connect the dots between hotel guests and avoid creating duplicate records in your CRM. Data in the hospitality industry is very unique relative to other industries, so choosing a crm platform that is built for hoteliers is critical.

#3) Organize Booking Data into Guest Profiles

Once the data is cleansed, the hotel CRM software will accurately organize these guest insights within that guest’s profile. And not just for the guest, but for the household to ensure that families who travel together aren’t treated as multiple different guests and their behavior is accurately categorized. This is also true across multiple systems. These guest profiles will be able to show what a guest booked in the property management system, what their survey results were after that stay, what emails they opened before they booked, what activities they purchased from your POS, and so forth. Again, you don’t want multiple records for the same guest, you want one complete guest profile and a hotel CRM can provide that.

#4) Integrate Those Profiles into Guest Touchpoints

Now, having this information about your guest is one thing, but your team needs to have access to that data so as they talk to these guests they can customize those messages and interactions to their specific behaviors, preferences, and trends. For example, a call center agent can use the hotel CRM to look up the guest they’re speaking with and see their full transaction history across all of your systems. Your marketing team can use the hospitality CRM to build a segment of guests who typically travel alone on midweeks with an average length-of-stay above 3 nights and use email marketing or SMS marketing to fill that soft midweeks you’re seeing in your occupancy pacing report. And the concierge should be able to see VIPs who are arriving today so they can find unique ways to serve and delight those guests. A sales manager on your hotel’s sales team can use guest data to identify future leads based on the behavior of previous guests. A hotel CRM gives each of these teams access to your guest profiles.

marketing integrations with hotel CRM platform

#5) Automate Guest Service Based on that Data

Finally, your hotel’s CRM will allow you to automate alerts or messages based on guest behavior to identify issues that can be resolved or opportunities to provide guest service or generate revenue. These automation tools are especially powerful when paired with email marketing. For example, your CRM could set up a workflow to alert you if a VIP guest indicates they had a poor experience when filling out a post-stay survey so that your front desk, call center, or concierge can quickly intervene and remedy the situation before their loyalty is lost. Your marketing team could use the hotel CRM to automate an email to guests who only booked two nights of lodging encouraging them to stay an extra night. Or they could automatically trigger an pre-built email template shortly before the guest arrives helping them navigate transportation issues you often see showing up in low-NPS survey results or upselling them on experiences they haven’t purchased. Either way, automation has quickly become a key component of an effective hotel CRM that opens up incredible opportunities for revenue generation and guest service.

Why does your hotel need a CRM system?

As we just mentioned, a CRM solution that is built for the hotel industry gives you visibility into your guest behavior in ways that allows you to do many things much better than if you were flying blind. Primarily, however, there are three key reasons you need a hotel CRM.

  • High performance marketing
  • Accurate analysis of guest behavior
  • Guest service

All of these will help your hotel business generate more revenue and guest satisfaction. Let’s talk through each one.

High Performance Marketing

When a CRM system makes it so everything you know about your guests can influence every marketing message you send them, your performance can go through the roof. When hotels have switch to Inntopia Marketing Cloud, for example, we’ve had many say that they’re sending fewer email marketing campaigns than before but seeing 2-3x the revenue generated from those emails because they’re able to perfectly target guests based on their behavior or customize the contents of the email dynamically based on each guest’s data which, in turn, increases the match between the message the guest receives and the likelihood they’ll act on it. This is especially true when it comes to marketing automation. While building more targeted audiences on social media is absolutely enabled by your CRM, email automated based on guest behavior like check-ins or other points along the customer journey will generate incredible amounts of customer loyalty and revenue.

screenshot of revenue generating automations sent by hotel CRM

Accurate Analysis of Guest Behavior

Without guest data all in the same place, it’s incredibly hard to get an accurate, comprehensive view of your hotel’s performance and trends. A hotel CRM’s ability to bring all of that data together and organize it in an easy-to-access place gives your team the opportunity to go behind things like RevPAR and occupancy as performance metrics and truly understand who is coming to your hotel, how they’re interacting with your property, staff, loyalty program, or marketing, why they’re coming to your hotel, who is most likely to return, what common factors are behind your most valuable guests, and understand where to focus your efforts with marketing and guest service to increase loyalty and streamline the guest experience.

Guest Service

To that end, your hotel CRM software will also give you the insights you need to provide a level of customer support and guest service that’s simply not possible when your guest data is siloed and disorganized. Whether it’s recognizing a VIP at the front desk, tailoring a reservation to their specific needs in the call center, providing highly-relevant recommendations in pre-arrival and in-hotel messaging, or a dozen other opportunities, all of this is made possible by a CRM solution that connects everything you know about your guest to everyone at your hotel who is working to attract them to your property and help them have an incredible visit once they do.


A quick note about pricing. It’s extremely tempting for budget-conscious hotels to simply go for the most affordable option. The dynamics of guest data, however, mean that the more you invest in unlocking the patterns and dynamics within this data, the greater the ROI you can generate. Marketing teams may compare pricing between two platforms, but the most important thing is to compare feature sets and the potential opportunities for increasing customer loyalty, improving the customer experience, and taking full advantage of your customer data in ways that align to your hotel’s specific needs.

screenshot of dashboard in hotel CRM showing performance metrics

What’s next?

Choosing a CRM is a decision that every hotel needs to put careful thought and time into. Ask questions like:

  • What do I wish I knew about my hotel guests?
  • What guest behaviors can we not use when targeting emails or ads?
  • Who on my team doesn’t have access to guest profiles?
  • What reporting gaps do we have with our current performance metrics?
  • What causes poor experiences at our hotel and what prevents us from helping guests avoid these issues?

Hotel CRM software like Inntopia Marketing Cloud can help you solve these problems and more. So sit down with your team, identify the problems you need to solve, and take some time to shop around and find the perfect CRM for your property.

Want a demo or have questions? Let's talk.

photo of tyler maynard

Tyler Maynard
VP of Business Development
Ski / Golf / Destination Research

photo of doug kellogg

Doug Kellogg
Director of Business Development
Hospitality / Attractions

If you're a current Inntopia customer, contact support directly for the quickest response →

Inntopia Marketing Cloud Turn untapped guest data
into revenue-generating opportunities.

Merge data from all your systems for a single, 360° view of every guest.

    Discover Marketing Cloud →    
screenshot of Inntopia Marketing Cloud