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How Loyalty Programs & CRM Systems Can Transform the Guest Experience

Have you ever booked a flight or a hotel using a frequent flyer or loyalty number? Most hotel and airline chains offer loyalty clubs through which customers can receive points for travel. As we accumulate points, we benefit from the loyalty program when we redeem our points for free hotels, flights, and other special perks. Moreover, these same loyalty numbers can also link to our credit cards to accumulate even more points. The more outlets from which the loyalty number can accumulate points, the more data the systems exchange. While the company rewards the customer with perks and freebies, the company is also indexing massive amounts of data. Companies then use this data to communicate with their customers through more efficient and precise offers. This is the power of CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, and it’s catching on in our attractions world.

Building Loyalty

On the receiving end of great service, who doesn’t want to be treated like a V.I.P., to be pampered, and even to receive an offer in our INBOX for Buy One, Get One Sushi! .... But what if I don't like Sushi???? With generic offers or promotions, that’s the problem...some people might absolutely love that offer while others hate it.  The offers that we make to our guests must resonate with each specific recipient. Understanding guest behavior and then responding with strategic and efficient communication has become a billion-dollar business…and it all begins with technology.


Think about how data might be recorded at your park or institution. First, your guests purchase their admission ticket online or at the front gate. Then, they purchase their food, drinks, and souvenirs from separate systems. Each of these systems—from the ticketing system to the membership database and from your retail POS to your food and beverage system—collects its own data. The cashier processes the order, the system settles the transaction, and updates the database record…and then everything just stops.

The data that each of your systems collects is incredibly valuable…but only if you use it. Think about that guest who bought the premium admission ticket… Is there an opportunity to engage him or her with even more luxury items? Perhaps a VIP dining experience? The vast amount of data that we collect can—and should—work harder for us. The solution is to get the data talking with an integrated CRM solution.

The Integrated CRM Solution

While in the travel world, integrating CRM systems is down to a science, in our attractions world, this is the new frontier. Systems need to talk with one another—that’s a foundational requirement. All of your systems (ticketing, F&B, retail) need to talk—and CRM is the key. The two diagrams below should help you to understand how data must flow from individual systems to the CRM.

Creating the infrastructure for the data is just the beginning. It can be costly too. The Walt Disney Company spent nearly one billion dollars rolling out their complex solution. They also created a good case study from which we can explore some of the ways in which the data we collect keeps our guests happy, engaged, and spending more!

Monday Morning with Marty will not publish next Monday due to IAAPA but will return on November 20. At that time, I will continue to share the power of just how an integrated CRM solution can be implemented affordably and benefit any size of attraction, theme park, or institution. Until then, I hope to see many of you at IAAPA beginning next Monday in Orlando, Florida.

Communication - the human connection - is the key to personal and career success.

- Paul J. Meyer

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Revenue ManagementOperational ExecutionGuest Experience ManagementTechnology & Integration