HEBS Digital’s Executive Vice President, Jason Price, chatted with the CEO of SHR—Sceptre Hospitality Resources—Rodrigo Jimenez, to discuss his career and CRS strategies.
Jason: What do you do and what was the path that led you—not only into the hospitality industry—but the career you have now?
Rodrigo: I’m currently the CEO of SHR. I started my career in corporate banking many years ago. I used to bank for some hotel companies which exposed me to the industry from early on. Then in 1999, I joined a couple of friends in a venture that was considered the cutting edge of Internet technology at the time: giving companies websites that actually did something. The name of the company was Webvertising, and it allowed us to work with ad agencies that were working with state tourism agencies and CVBs. This path eventually led us to hotels. We ended up creating a central reservation system (CRS), selling it, and then creating a new one! Once we started working with hotels back around 1999 and 2000, we never left the industry.
J: If you had to describe your career in three words, what would you say?
R: A wild ride.
J: What are some of the highs and lows of your current role?
R: I love working with hotel clients. I love the industry and the people that are passionate about hospitality and hospitality technology. The lows only come at times when the lack of cooperation between different providers gets in the way of giving hoteliers what they need to create better experiences for the guest or better operational efficiency at the hotel.
J: What are some of the challenges you observe hotels have when trying to engage their guests?
R: I think perhaps the biggest challenge hotels face is the lack of centralized data about guests. Hoteliers are forced to have pieces of the puzzle in different repositories and then try to put the puzzle together in complicated ways.
J: What are some initiatives you would suggest hotels take that can influence the success of their digital marketing campaigns?
R: I have been saying for years now that the “wall” between the hotel website and the booking engine needs to come down. Hotels build beautiful websites that are not equipped to sell anything until the guest clicks on something like “book now” or “make a reservation.” This blows my mind because it is such an easy problem to solve. Modern APIs allow web sites to interact with availability, rate, and inventory data so that when a guest sees a picture of a room, they also see if it’s available and at what rate. That’s just a minor example of what’s doable with true website/CRS integration.
J: Do you foresee CRS playing a bigger role in the deployment of digital marketing initiatives? If so, how?
R: Our vision for the CRS is to see it evolve into a Revenue Generation Platform. It absolutely needs to play a bigger role in digital marketing initiatives. The CRS is the last mile, or very close to the last mile, of any initiative that aims to get more guests to book at a hotel. So, the ability to customize that portion of the process to be consistent with the campaign objectives or themes is extremely important in achieving positive results and being able to measure those results.
J: Do you see a difference in guest engagement or even conversion on hotels that leverage CRM data?
R: Intuitively, if an offer is put in front of someone and it considers who they are, what they like, where they are, and what their values as a consumer are, the conversion will be better. At SHR, we believe that combining CRS, CRM, and RMS data provides the best possible outcome when creating experiences that make sense for guests. This combination also allows hotels to improve performance because they are making guests happier with this level of personalization. The goal ultimately has to be about making the guest happy.
J: In a perfect world, how could this information be used by hotels to engage with their guests, and why?
R: In a perfect world, we should be selling to an audience of ONE. Better data, better analytics, AI, and integration of key systems will allow for that. It’s possible now.
J: Do you believe emerging technologies will make hotels engage differently with their guests?
R: The beauty and the challenge of the industry we are in is that it keeps changing! I am convinced that we will be engaging with guests in new and improved ways. I’m excited about the possibilities that AI, voice interaction, and things like augmented reality bring for the relationship between hotels and their guests.
About HEBS Digital:
Founded in 2001, the firm is headquartered in New York City and has global offices in Las Vegas, Tallinn, Munich, and Auckland. Through its Smart Guest Acquisition Suite, including the smartCMS®, Content Personalization Engine, Smart Data Marketing, and full-service digital consulting and marketing solutions, HEBS Digital helps hoteliers drastically boost direct bookings, lower distribution costs, and increase the lifetime value of guests. Its diverse client portfolio consists of top-tier luxury and boutique hotel chains, independent hotels, resorts and casinos, franchised properties and hotel management companies, convention centers, spas, restaurants, DMO and tourist offices.
Part of NextGuest Technologies, HEBS Digital and Serenata CRM, the most comprehensive Hotel CRM Suite today, are the creators of the hospitality industry’s first Fully-Integrated Guest Engagement & Acquisition Platform.
Contact HEBS Digital’s consultants at 1 (800) 649-5076 (North America), +64 (0) 9 889 8489 (Asia Pacific) or email@example.com.
Marketing Manager, HEBS Digital
Phone: (212) 752-9425