Dr. Marianna Siagala is Professor in Tourism at the University of South Australia’s Business School. During her visit to Greece earlier this month, she was invited by Swiss Alpine Center, in collaboration with Eurobank and Erasmus Atene to deliver a very inspirational seminar on the importance of Customer Relationship Management and building up Customer Loyalty!
A researcher who has won many awards for best papers presented in international conferences and academic journals, Professor Sigala shared lots of brilliant ideas with the audience, most of whom were in charge of CRM and loyalty programs in their hotels.
The seminar focused on the cyberpsychology of tourists and its implication on the design and implementation of CRM strategies and practices. “Social media is transforming the way people communicate, share, design, consume and co-create tourism information and experiences. The empowered social customers do not want to be any more passive consumers of the firms’ designed services and pushed information,” she informed. She suggested that tourism and hospitality firms need to adapt the way they interact with guests and integrate/engage them into business processes.
In her opinion, these advances lead CRM strategies to be transformed and to immigrate from a transaction management practice of customers to customer engagement and relationship stewardship programs.
Professor Sigala moved on to the subject of loyalty programs which have become more important for the survival of hospitality enterprises in an era of fierce competition. She discussed factors affecting customer loyalty which she categorized as behavioural loyalty or attitudinal loyalty. She recommended the redesign of loyalty programs to address current trends and challenges.
She concluded that travellers are becoming more price sensitive, less brand loyal and more sophisticated. To enhance guest loyalty, hotels must focus on developing CRM strategies that aim to seek, gather, store and share guest information throughout the entire organization for creating personalized and unique guest experiences.
Participants appreciated all the examples and case studies that Prof Sigala shared during the seminar. “The entire day was one of the best I’ve ever spent. Dr Sigala’s talk was inspiring, informative and her method of delivery was so impressive” said hotelier Anastasios Mexas.
“Genuinely one of the best seminars on CRM that I’ve attended! Prof Sigala is an excellent instructor”, commented Vassilis Xenoudakis, Operations Manager at Polis Grand Hotel.