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Transforming Guest Experiences: Turtle Bay Resort Partners with Salesforce for AI-Powered Personalization

Robert Marusi, chief commercial officer, Turtle Bay Resort, explains how Salesforce's Einstein 1 Platform is fueling a digital transformation, resulting in a substantial increase in revenue and a highly engaging guest experience.
Turtle Bay Resort
Turtle Bay Resort
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At the beginning of March, Salesforce announced that it’s working with Turtle Bay Resort, a luxury vacation destination located on O’ahu’s North Shore, to help the resort augment service agents with AI while personalizing the entire guest experience. In particular, the resort has been looking to heighten awareness of its unique offerings while also establishing new, life-long customer relationships. To do this, the resort has been using AI to review historical customer data and then create stronger guest profiles. With these improved profiles in place, the resort has not only been able to tailor its guest communications across web, email and social resulting in a 40 percent uplift with triple-digit conversion growth, but also is able to make tailored recommendations to customers. To learn more about this fascinating technology partnership, Hospitality Technology magazine spoke with Robert Marusi, chief commercial officer, Turtle Bay Resort.

Tell us about your working relationship with Salesforce.

I think they’re the best CRM in the business. I’d used them for years before coming to Turtle Bay Resort and was very familiar with them because they’re embedded in a number of sales and catering products. But when I came to Turtle Bay Resort three-and-a-half years ago, we were on a mission to reorganize our distribution channels and market ourselves to a completely different type of guest. I knew then I needed a system that would allow me to scale, and give me a 360-degree view of the customer and wouldn’t be just another point-to-point solution. Salesforce was that solution.

Our relationship with Salesforce was always about personalization and creating a digital relationship with the consumer who visited our website. Consumer intelligence is king. If I can develop a digital relationship and I can get that consumer to de-anonymize, then I can learn their likes and dislikes, their interests and affinities, and I can create a persona for them and market to them in a hyper personalized way. 

You’ve recently begun using Salesforce’s Einstein 1 Platform with great success. Why were you interested in using this product?

I’m an early adopter and a futurist when it comes to the hotel tech stack. I believe in agility, and honestly, I can’t remember a time prior to this when hoteliers needed to be more agile in terms of tech and how we look to the future. For example, our property offers 60 different experiences and activities to our resort guests. It’s our currency, but also our challenge. The question has always been, how do we deliver experience recommendations to our guests that will have the highest propensity for purchase? Well, Einstein’s AI will look at the data we have on our guests and will tell us which three activities they’re most likely to purchase. When we realized it could do that for us, we knew it was something special. 

What have been some of the results your resort has seen since implementing the Einstein 1 Platform?

We’re generally always looking at our open rate, click through rate, and engagement rate. Typically, when you drive more business to your website, those rates go down. But in our case, they’ve gone up. Not only have we quadrupled the visitation to our website, but we also are achieving an open rate in the 60th percentile for our pre-arrival emails. Our engagement rate is about 65 to 70 percent. And we’ve seen a 40 percent lift year-over-year in topline revenue. This is all happening because of the hyper-personalized pre-arrival journeys that we’ve set up and because of our ability to continue that personalized guest experience while guests are on property. As guests interact with our associates, Einstein’s AI is telling our staff which experiences they should suggest to the guest when they ask for a recommendation on what to do next. Since implementing the Einstein 1 Platform, our activity and experience bookings have increased by 50 percent.

Was it a heavy lift to implement the Einstein 1 Platform?

Generally speaking, no, it’s not a heavy lift. And as you’re implementing it, you get some great results right away. So, that really drives the passion and the interest and the groundswell of the associates to get on board. The heaviest lift – and it’s really not heavy, it’s just more of a time commitment – is teaching the associates how to use it, and how to have fun with it. 

What’s one of your favorite features of the Einstein 1 Platform?

It would definitely have to be the guest console. When I look at it, I can see what channel brought the guest to us, what their pre-arrival journey looked like, at what stage of the journey they’re currently on, their propensity to purchase, their itinerary, their chat history with our associates, if they’ve had any problems, etc. It’s all right in front of me. It’s been a game changer for our business. But it’s also been really helpful as we look to hire younger employees who want to work with software that’s fun and easy-to-use. 

Do you have any advice for hoteliers who are interested in leveling up their CRM game?

Do the research to understand what the hotel of tomorrow looks like. Here’s a hint: It’s all about how you can make the guest experience frictionless. So first, learn how to do that. Second, don’t try to put AI into everything. Start with just a simple use case and slowly grow. Third, an excellent CRM is no longer optional. It’s table stakes. We’re all going to have to get there eventually, so you might as well get in the game now. If you wait, you’re going to be left behind. 

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