Travel & Hospitality

We strive to become the premier Travel & Hospitality industry partner for services implementation in the Salesforce ecosystem.

With unique experience among Salesforce consulting partners, particularly regarding cruise industry Salesforce implementations, coupled with a decade-plus of established trust by Salesforce’s own Professional Services team, Gerent will leverage its differentiated foundation to deliver unparalleled, results-based, Salesforce solution success within the Travel & Hospitality industry.
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COVID-19 Message

We are dedicated to helping our travel partners and customers focus on the safety of travellers, work with pandemic guidelines of the CDC and WHO, and develop a sound strategic plan to address the future of travel.

You can count on us

Depth of Experience

With over 40 years of collective experience and 40,000 hours of implementation, we have deep understanding of the Travel & Hospitality sector. We know what it takes to drive revenue and reduce costs, and we know the importance of staying up to date with new and current global requirements pertaining to COVID-19, GDPR, and PCI compliance.

Broad Areas of Focus

We specialize in multiple areas of the Travel & Hospitality Industry including but not limited to Cruise Lines, Shore Tour Operators, Transportation such as limousines, buses, and trains, and Hotels & Lodges, including both retail and wholesale models.

Knowledge & Expertise

Our expertise in the sector is enriched with a strong network of travel partners and a large user community that we leverage for research and development. We work with Senior Management in a number of organizations to ensure continuous visibility to top-level visions across travel markets.

Committed to Innovation

Our DeepQuest solution is a one-stop-shop, low-cost, and easy implementation Salesforce-powered CRM solution designed to help SMBs in the Travel & Hospitality industry optimize their customer relationships and scale their business.

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Customer Success

We’ve successfully deployed a wide range of Salesforce solutions for some of the largest players in the Travel & Hospitality industry, including but not limited to Norwegian Cruise Line, Alaskan Dream Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Lindblad Expeditions, & Florida Tours.

How we can help

Customer Engagement

Use the best technology tools tor the sector to build customer journeys, drive brand awareness, and foster strong customer relationships.

Process Standardization

Streamline operations and automate processes by enabling easy connectivity to external travel portals and booking engines that expand customer reach.

Data Anlytics

Run reports and dashboards leveraging Mulesoft, API builder, and Einstein.

Safety Measures

Enable COVID-19 tracing and strengthen customer support with additional touch points.

Compliance

Remain up to date on GDPR data protections, customer privacy acts, and PCI compliance.

Ketta Riley

Travel & Hospitality Practice Leader

Ketta Riley brings over 30 years of experience in the Travel & Hospitality industry. She spent a large part of her career driving growth and innovation in a wide range of roles at Norwegian Cruise Line and has an intimate understanding of the sector. She has tackled many challenges and changes in the industry for multiple decades and brings with her comprehensive, 360-degree expertise.

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Our Point of View

Our Point of View

Catering to Guest Preferences in the Ever-changing Hotel Sector explores how hotels can continue to build customer loyalty, outline technological innovations the lodging sector has adopted and examine effective ways hotels can expand their reach to convert new audiences.

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Episode 24: How Technology Powers The Hotel Industry Back To Health

The hotel and lodging industry suffered enormously last year as a result of the pandemic. For the first time ever, over a billion room nights went unsold. Revenue per available room was just 48% and the industry barely turned a profit. For all intents and purposes, hotels were just as badly off as the financially crushed cruise lines. But whereas cruise ships spent all of 2020 in port, where many are still stuck, the hotel industry in the US began to recover in the summer of 2020 as Covid restrictions eased off – prematurely, as it turned out – in state after state and people jumped at the chance to get away.

In this episode, Ketta Riley, Gerent’s Senior VP of Travel and Hospitality Practice, joins us to provide her take on the hotel industry and what the future might look like. We’ll also talk with Michael Blake, Chief Technology Officer for the American Hotel and Lodging Association on the value of and the role that technology plays in the hotel industry today.

June 16, 2021

Crystal Cruise Lines Adopts Marketing Cloud

In 1962, Avis rental car company launched an ad campaign that became legendary in the world of advertising. “When you’re number two, you try harder” was the tag line and the message was clear: we do more to provide great service because we don’t want to remain number two.

A well-known luxury cruise line might have re-worded that tagline to read, “when you slip from number one to number two, you try even harder”. That, in fact, was the situation for this particular company and the goal was simple: we want to get back on top.

Conde Nast had ranked Crystal Cruise Lines number one in the world for luxury ocean cruising for almost three decades – before Viking, a company best known for European river cruising decided to take a successful run at the top spot in 2017.

Crystal Cruise Lines has been a long-standing Salesforce and Gerent customer. As it planned a strategy to regain the top spot, the customer turned to Gerent, again, this time to implement Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

The Plan To Re-Take Number One

The goal, as Tom Harding, V.P. of Sales for Gerent explains, was simple. “They wanted to be number one again and they wanted market growth. After enjoying incredible status for over a quarter-century, they were suddenly knocked off their perch. And that didn’t go over well with their new corporate owner, an ocean shipping conglomerate in Hong Kong.”

The first step back to the top taken by the parent company was to bring in a new CEO. Under his leadership, Crystal Cruise Lines decided on a two-pronged strategy. While working to regain the number one spot in ocean cruising, the company also targeted river cruising. That meant building more ships capable of handling the narrow confines of European river cruising.

“So, you can imagine,”, Harding continued, “to facilitate these big plans, they had to grow their business.”

The Cruise Lines customers are very affluent, a “high net worth audience”, as Tom put it. The company does an exceptional job of creating and maintaining close personal relationships with its customers, says Harding,  but the customer data was scattered and many sales or marketing tasks were manual or ad hoc. The marketing plan needed to account for a rapidly aging demographic among their well-heeled ocean cruising guests while reaching a younger demographic more typical of river cruising.

Implementing The Right Technology

The one thing that was missing was a technology base from which they could launch effective marketing strategies, according to Harding.

When Gerent first met to propose Salesforce Marketing Cloud, they learned Crystal Cruise Lines had opted for Adobe Campaign. However, Adobe didn’t work out, largely because it couldn’t integrate properly with the company’s other Salesforce software without huge expense and pain. They gave Gerent the green light to implement Marketing Cloud, providing the cruise line with the technology, systems, and processes with which to launch an effective marketing push. “At the same time,” says Tom, “they got something that gives them the ability to maintain or find new levels of customer intimacy that had never existed on the marketing side of their business before.”

Crystal Cruise Lines is targeting two distinct markets. For its high-end ocean cruises, the company has established excellent relations with travel agencies around the world. “The last thing a high-net-worth guest wants to have to do is sit in front of a computer and try to figure out the best cruise, the best destination and so on. They just call a travel agent to do it for them,” Tom explains.

New Portals and New Opportunities

So, Crystal Cruise Lines “rolls out the red carpet” for the agencies. Gerent helped its client to improve on that experience through Community Cloud, creating a new, efficient portal for travel agents to use in order to provide top-level service to their well-heeled clientele. At the same time, Gerent implemented another portal within Community Cloud for the cruise company’s direct sales teams to utilize. When Salesforce Community Cloud is combined with Marketing Cloud, direct sales teams no longer have to use Excel spreadsheets to chart their contacts with leads - the company’s previous practice; now, both marketing and sales teams can tell instantly how often a lead has been contacted, when, and what the messaging was.

Taking An Email Journey

Valentine Christopher was Gerent’s Project Manager on the Marketing Cloud implementation. He explained how the cruise line needed to go beyond simply sending out ad hoc emails. “They needed to be able to track their leads and contacts as part of a journey up to the point where they make a cruise booking. That journey could run a week, a month or a year between first contact and booking,” Christopher said.

Because email is such an important sales and marketing element for the cruise line, the company opted for Email Studio,  one of 11 powerful applications within Marketing Cloud designed to streamline different marketing functions. Email Studio starts by centralizing customer data from every area of the company, allowing marketers to segment a mailing list and target custom messaging, based on a customer’s profile. From Email Studio, Crystal Cruise Lines can filter thousands of profiles in seconds, employ Einstein Analytics to help create specific, meaningful messaging and automate the whole email process.

Gerent also implemented Journey Builder to work in conjunction with Email Studio. With Journey Builder, Crystal Cruise Lines builds custom milestones into an email campaign that trigger further action. A journey is a roadmap that lays out touchpoints and interactions using event-driven triggers such as a customer or lead downloading cruise content from an app on a mobile device, in order to proactively respond and deliver the right message at the right moment.

All teams within Crystal Cruise Lines – marketing, sales, and service – have a full view of each custom journey and can drag and drop other content ( SMS messages or ads, for example) created elsewhere within Marketing Cloud while providing a full 360-degree view of the new content internally. In this way,  consistency of message and contact is assured.

Marketing With Power

Marketing Cloud offers a total of 11 powerful tools. By choosing and combining the most applicable ones, a company can supercharge its sales and marketing. For example, Audience Studio, a data management platform, gathers data from all touchpoints, analyzes it using Salesforce Einstein AI and generates actionable recommendations; Social Studio brings in the power of social media to reach contacts and leads; it’s possible to monitor audience discussions on topics relevant to a company’s brand, using machine-learning sentiment analysis and image recognition or identify whenever a company’s name is mentioned anywhere within the social media universe.

Valentine maintains that Crystal Cruise Lines now possesses sales and marketing power it never had before. As it moves forward with its two-pronged marketing strategy to re-acquire the number one status in luxury ocean cruises and make strong inroads into the river cruising market, it can realistically expect to reach its goals. It can now rely on having a clear profile of its contacts, leads, and customers and drive effective messaging, thanks to Marketing Cloud and Gerent’s knowledge and experience of how to maximize Marketing Cloud capabilities for cruise lines.

It makes sense to talk with implementation experts who can help select the right tools in the right combinations. This is what Gerent does, so, we invite you to contact us to learn more about Marketing Cloud and how it can help your sales and marketing campaigns hit their targets.

Smart Data Propels Sales for Crystal Cruise Lines

The cruise industry has grown dramatically in the past 20 years and is projected to grow even faster in the years ahead.

Much of this is attributable to Baby Boomers and their substantial savings.

Boomers Demand More

As more and more Boomers retire, according to Forbes, their overall good health is allowing them to stay active. Simply being on a cruise ship for 3, 7 or 10 days sailing through the Caribbean or up the west coast to Alaska is just not what they want any longer.

River cruising is hugely popular; cruises to exotic destinations in Asia or elsewhere in the southern hemisphere are also sought after; ecology cruising is another destination subset enjoying substantial growth.

The cruise lines have stepped up to serve – and service – the ballistic growth in the number of people cruising today.

For the more affluent and discerning water-borne travelers, there are high end and high cost cruises to satisfy every taste.

The Battle for the High End Customer

Here, the competition is especially fierce and cruise lines fight to ensure that every aspect of on-board service is exceptional; a satisfied cruising traveler will not only spend more on board but in all likelihood will be a returning customer in the future.

So, it’s vital for cruise companies to know how to reach those customers to offer them what they want and how to reach potential new customers, as well.

Gerent was approached by Crystal Cruise Lines, a cruise company that is in the top echelon of the high-end cruising market.

The company had recently been acquired by a Hong Kong firm that was implementing an aggressive growth strategy that demanded enhanced sales and administration efforts.

Because of the nature of marketing in the cruise industry, the company dealt with a number of travel agencies worldwide as well as engaging in direct marketing efforts online.

Disjointed Data Means Lost Opportunities

What was lacking was a digitized and unified customer relationship management system that could generate and analyze valuable data from various sources. This data could create a complete picture of the cruise company’s customers and allow the company to fine-tune its sales and marketing efforts.

When Gerent conducted its investigation, it became apparent that any data the Crystal Cruise Lines was gleaning through its affiliated travel agencies around the world was coming via email and manually processed reports.

Customer information was often siloed, making it difficult to get a complete picture of who their customers were and leaving many great sales and marketing initiatives on the table, as a result.

Knowing the Customer is Critical

Gerent explained that Crystal Cruise Lines needed to be able to define its customers, from their past travel experiences and on-board activities to what they liked to eat and drink, as well as where they lived before the company could capitalize fully.

Gerent’s Salesforce solution implemented both Sales and Service cloud, two powerful solutions for the agency sales and direct sales teams.

As a result, the client was able to integrate all sales efforts for revenue and account management purposes, route all lead traffic from the online forms directly into Salesforce and provide all sales teams with mobile access in real time.

Gerent also explained how the client could integrate data from existing reservation and lead generation platforms directly into Salesforce; there was no need to jettison technology the client had already paid for.

Data in a Single Database

A total of 4 million legacy guest records were migrated into Salesforce and Gerent also mobilized Chatter so that all sales teams were able to communicate directly with each other using just one, standardized platform.

Now, Crystal Cruise Lines has unprecedented visibility into its sales and lead pipelines, greater collaboration with its global partners and enhanced relationships as a result.

Sales agents have become more productive with the elimination of manual reporting processes and the client’s new, far more complete, view of its customers has already led to different and more effective marketing initiatives that are driving sales forward.

Meeting The High Demands of Travel Customers With CRM

The airplane, like the automobile before it, opened up new vistas for travel.

Where the automobile allowed people to travel beyond their hometowns, counties and states in the early 20th century, it limited them to whatever network of roads had been constructed.

Several decades later, when Pan American Airways began the first trans Atlantic flights in 1939,  commercial air service disrupted the old ground-based travel model by allowing people to leave behind not just their home but their country, as well.

Like A Crowded Subway

We take intercontinental air travel for granted, now. Speed and time are no longer issues: it’s possible to fly hallway around the world in a matter of hours.

But the excitement that was once part of air travel is long gone. Today, flying is often an uncomfortable, stress-filled means to an end, like taking a crowded subway to work every morning. Just a lot more expensive.

To counter disgruntled tourists,  the travel industry is turning to technology to make a customer’s experience as pleasing and memorable as possible – at least, once the flight is over.

Know The Customer With CRM

The key to customer satisfaction begins with knowing the customer, as it does with any business today, and to truly know a customer requires a customer relationship management software platform.

CRM solutions are tailor-made to provide a travel business with the kind of information and analysis to deliver a meaningful experience to a customer.

Artificial intelligence is playing an enormous role within CRM solutions, delivering personalized and customized itineraries for travelers in real time, based on their needs, desires and past experiences.

Data Drives Success

In other words, it’s all about the data.

The big online travel agencies (OTAs) like Expedia, Travelocity and others know how valuable data is to their businesses. That’s part of the reason why they rake in billions of dollars every year.

Their share-of-wallet grows at the expense of small, independent agencies, boutique hotels and cruise lines who fail to leverage CRM technology.

Therefore, it’s even more vital for the smaller travel firms to access the same kind of data and use it to advantage.

Smaller companies are out-classed when it comes to the marketing budgets of the major OTAs but they can still leverage the characteristics of today’s travelling consumers.

The Changing Customer

First and foremost, recognize that today’s customers are not the customers of even five years ago. Now, customers know they can find what they want online.

As a result, according to an extensive Salesforce survey , 50% of those polled said they would switch from a company that didn’t anticipate their needs and 52% said they would switch brands if their old brand didn’t personalize communications – in other words, make them “feel like a somebody”.

Further, travelers are more concerned with their experience than with getting the best deal , according to a major study done by Expedia Group.

Big Expectations

So, the customer today is more expectant, more demanding and less forgiving. They know what’s possible and they won’t tolerate missing the chance to have it.

What’s more, if they don’t get what they were promised, they will often turn to social media and express their displeasure. By the same token, if they are thrilled with their travel experience, they will also let their social networks know.

Competing for the Customer

In order to assist small travel and tourism operators to compete on par with the giant OTAs, Gerent LLC created a unique product for the travel and hospitality market, based on the world’s number one CRM platform from Salesforce.

The product is called DeepQuest and is multi-module platform  designed to support and serve boutique hotels, transportation companies and small cruise lines.

It is a direct result of the travel business landscape today and reflective of the demands of travelling consumers.

DeepQuest employs the power of Salesforce CRM while providing inventory control management, reservation management and pricing software, built-in to individual modules, on a cloud-based platform.

DeepQuest gives the small tourism operator a means of levelling the playing field along with the power to provide a consumer with a personalized and customized itinerary that can be adjusted in real time.

A Win For Small Travel Operators

The travelling consumer is driving the market today through higher expectations, spurred by technology which now permits online booking from anywhere, on any device.

This shouldn’t have to mean that smaller companies fall by the wayside because they’re not affluent enough to match global marketing and IT budgets run by the Expedias and TripAdvisors of the world.

CRM technology is the key that unlocks the door for independent operators, revealing a new market of possibilities and opportunities.

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