For hotel companies, it is challenging to find new ways to differentiate in an ever evolving marketplace. There is a lot of talk in our industry about the increasing numbers of third party channels and distributors to have entered the marketplace, and how that impacts the hotel company’s core business. Every one of these players is competing for your guests. However, most hotels possess an advantage over their competition that is often sitting forgotten in their databases - the detailed transaction data that they have on their guests.
To stand out from the competition, hospitality companies need to match guests with highly targeted offers that demonstrate an understanding of both guest preferences and value. To ensure these offers strike the right financial balance to drive profits, hospitality companies should base their campaigns on a true understanding of guest worth, both today and in the future. A 360-degree view of the guest is essential to achieving this vision. But what is a 360-degree view, and how do hoteliers achieve it?
Today’s hotel guest is likely to participate in a variety of activities across the property, including dining, meetings, spa, even golf and shopping if available. To gain a 360-degree view of your guests, these activities need to be captured and linked back to the guest. Gathering this information from disparate operating systems presents a technical challenge for many hotel companies, as do the analytic techniques that extract guest behavioral insight.
Hotel and resort companies are gathering the information needed to know their guests, but often have difficulty determining how to access and use the data. And once the data is gathered together, how can hotels companies ensure the quality of the data? Duplicate guest profiles and duplicate transactions are common in property management systems as well as customer relationship management systems. When you add the other systems such as point of sale, restaurant reservations, spa or golf systems, the problem can grow exponentially. That’s why a thorough data management approach, including data integration and data quality is essential to an accurate picture of your guest’s behavior. When you have access to relevant, accurate information about your guests’ actual behavior you can use that information to make informed business decisions with clarity and confidence.
Once you have a 360-degree view of your guests you have many more opportunities to leverage analytics. Using advanced segmentation strategies and predictive analytics, micro-groups of guests with similar preferences and purchase behaviors can be identified. Perhaps you want to look across all of your guest records and understand what relationships exist between those that use the restaurants at your properties and those that use other facilities, for example, your spa. This can certainly help with understanding how changes to the spa operations such as opening hours or even a renovation will directly impact the revenue of the restaurant. Additional data on guest behavior enables you to group guests by more than just their room revenue, but rather on all of their activities across your estate. Micro-segmentation allows you to be much more laser-focused in your marketing and service efforts, and your guests will feel that you really understand them.
Access to information about your guests at a detailed level allows you to match your service offerings and your marketing efforts to the set of customers that responds best to it. You do not have to be all things to all guests, but you can define your core offering based on your most valuable guests, and work on attracting other similar customers. New guests exhibiting similar behavior to your most valuable guests can be identified and nurtured, so you do not have to build an extensive guest history before you are able to identify and serve them. Behavioral indicators signal an opportunity for hotel companies to intervene to encourage or discourage expected behaviors. For example, churn models predict when an individual guest is at risk for leaving, so you can take appropriate action before he or she defects.
Your guests are also interacting with you via websites, social media channels and mobile aps from when they first start to do research on your property, to well after they have departed. Adding online behavior data, which includes not just what was purchased, but also what was viewed by your guest during the purchase process can help your understanding how to cross-sell and upsell your service offerings. If a guest was reviewing spa open hours during their room reservation purchase, would that same guest respond well to an offer for a spa appointment? In many cases the offers do not need to include a discount to make them effective.
Redefining “valuable” and nurturing these relationships allows you to be more proactive, creative and focused in your marketing and service offerings. The hotel that can demonstrate a personal knowledge of their guests, and drive revenue while generating an attractive bottom line, will rise above the rest. Your guests will ultimately reward your attention with increased loyalty and spending.
How are you consolidating information about your guests? Do you currently have a 360-degree view, or single view of guests available to you? How are you deploying this in both your marketing and service operations efforts?