I consider myself a relatively organized person; especially compared to most people I know, so it is with much chagrin that I am writing this particular piece regarding CRMs—or Customer Relationship Managers. Over the past year I have been vacillating between a couple of CRM programs; now, before I tell you which ones, I would like to say that I am one who does not typically deliberate for over a year about anything. While I am not a kneejerk reactionary person, I do like to make decisions and move on. So, this situation has caused me a great amount of stress for a couple of reasons because, a) I don’t want to select the wrong program and feel “stuck” with it; and b) I would prefer not to pay for a program that isn’t going to be able to provide me with at least a majority of my needs.
Over the course of this past year, I have talked to countless people about their CRM, and if there are any pitfalls I need to be aware of in making my final decision. I am glad to say that most of those I spoke with, indicated that the selection of a CRM was difficult for them too; however, once they selected the one that best fit their needs, they have been on cruise control ever since. I also troll through a couple of the home-based travel agent boards to get a sense on what others are utilizing, as well as really soaking up as much information that I can when I attend the technology portion of the trade shows throughout the year.
I think the most important thing I’ve learned over the past year in my quest, is that a CRM can be one of the most critical parts of your business. Without one, you are in some ways floundering, and possibly not reaching potential clients. Utilization of a CRM is not only a landing place for all of your current, and (hopefully) future clients’ information; but, it’s also a place where the vast majority of marketing information and preferences are stored. In my opinion, if you are not utilizing a CRM, you are at a competitive disadvantage.
There were two major points that crept to the surface while I investigated:
- Try not to make cost the overarching reason for your selection
- Make sure you select a program(s) that will be able to grow with your business
It can be confusing to a newcomer, or even a veteran in this field, because we are constantly facing changes and demands on our time and attention, and there are always new items on the market that make big promises, yet, most fail to deliver.
With all of that being said, I believe for my needs that ClientBase or ClientEase are the two CRMs that appear to be most aligned with my needs as a business, and they are also travel centric programs tailored specifically for the travel community. While I know there are those who are able to successfully integrate multiple types of “cloud” technology to meet their needs; I prefer to keep things as simple as possible. The more places I have to go to access my information, the larger the likelihood that I will miss something, and in this business you can ill afford to miss anything. Wish me luck!
Do you use a CRM? Which ones? How do you track all of your client interaction. Let me know the pros-and cons in a comment!
Chanté Owens is co-owner of Chicks That Trip, and is an independent affiliate of Incentive Connection Travel. Chicks That Trip specializes in group travel, culinary & wine experiences, and major sporting event packages to the UK, France, Italy, Brazil, Puerto Rico, and select Southern Caribbean Islands. She can be reached at email@example.com. You can also visit her website at www.chicksthattrip.com and her blog penned under the name, That Chick Té at http://chicksthattrip-lobbybarconfessions.blogspot.com/