On reviewing Kelly’s recent post on the 14 actions for hotels in 2014, one of the most important take-away comes in the form of multi-channel marketing. Kelly touched on strategies for offline data in the form of a guest profile and loyalty program data, and online data comprising of social, mobile, and web channel data. Multi-channel data provides an enormous opportunity for hoteliers to gain new insights about their customers, but integrating data from offline and online channels is not easy for a couple of reasons.
First, it is no small feat to understand the emerging channels that comprise online data and bring together the data from multiple sources to make sense of it. Where should you start? Can you link data from your mobile platform back to your customer relationship management system? What about social data? Second, even traditional channels such as guest profile and loyalty program data can be fraught with problems in the form of missing and duplicated data. Just think of every time a brand new profile is created for an existing guest when they reserve through a new channel. Or how many of your guest profiles are missing an email address. Or how many of your guest profiles have no contact information whatsoever.
No hotel company wants to base their marketing strategies on unsound data, but to overcome these challenges, hotel companies need a way to pull all of the data related to their guests into one system. Using data integration and data quality capabilities is a great place to start. Data integration helps you consume the online data you have coming in and data quality helps you match the online data with your offline customer profiles. You can use the same approach with your offline data sources, bringing together data from disparate sources across your portfolio regardless of the kinds of systems they are held in. Robust data quality routines can ensure that you are never in the position where you have a database full of guests that you cannot effectively communicate with.
Once you have a solid data management in place, you can start to bring in new sources of data and analytics. For example, you can match what you know about a customer from social media with offline data and blend this with web or mobile data. The common denominator is to have the data quality and data matching in place to maintain an accurate profile of your guests.
To take this a step further you could also consider putting together a preference center which spans the channels where you interact with your guests. Preference centers can help you understand important information about your guests, such as email address or social media profile. Preference center information can help you make the connection between online and offline guest data, as well as give you direction on how your guests would like to be communicated with. Of course – data privacy needs to be at the center of any effort to collect information on your guests, and a preference center can also help you respect your guest’s wishes in this area.
At the convergence of data quality, data integration and data management is data governance. Data governance is a set of processes that manage data assets across the enterprise. Whether you consider online and offline data solely for marketing or use it to benefit your entire organization, since the data gathered is touched by so many departments, it is critical to appoint a cross-functional data governance team to manage your data as an asset.
If you are just getting started on the road to multi-channel marketing, take a small, answerable problem like one section of your data universe, and focus on that. Then, you can evaluate how to add additional sources of data as they make the most sense. Over the next few posts, we will be exploring the digital multi-channel challenge and how it relates to hotels. I hope that you will join us!