The demand for guest personalization is not losing its significance any time soon, and hoteliers are coming up with increasingly inventive ways to capture data and leverage guest intelligence technology to advance hotel-guest relationships.
When building data for guest intelligence, there are three critical pillars to consider: reservation data, social and public data, and loyalty program data. If available, this should be integrated with digital data at a user level. Together, these items provide valuable insights into the behaviors of your guests, when combined with sentiment analysis, become central to making actionable insight recommendations on an individual level. This distinction is critical – one that many platforms cannot yet promise. It is the continued aggregation and application of these insights within a central platform that allows hoteliers to customize the guest journey, now and in the future.
Today, I explore three key areas where data is stored, and what aspects of each are most pertinent to serving guests a personalized experience.
Reservation data goes beyond just contact information. Aside from the necessary foundation of names, email address, and phone number, hotels can aggregate details from guests’ check-in/check-out, amenities, preferences, and more. Further, understanding how and where guests booked their stay will allow hoteliers to craft more intelligent marketing strategies, utilizing each guests’ preferred communication channel. Finding the deeper meaning within reservation data will allow hoteliers to establish an understanding of their guest before they even step foot on property.
The Walt Disney World Resort recently applied the collection and analysis of guest data brilliantly through the implementation of their “MagicBands,” now used in the place of room keys and entrance tickets. When guests book their trips, initial data is collected and stored in an encrypted database. Then the MagicBands use radio-frequency technology to connect guests with their trip necessities. Among the perks, this data allows Disney cast members at the resorts to greet guests personally at different touchpoints throughout the park. It also will enable decision makers at the property’s multiple resorts, restaurants, and vendors to get detailed insights regarding their customer’s actions, patterns, location, and schedule. In a sense, this grants them access to a world of actionable information while guests are experiencing enhanced and personalized moments like never before.
Social and Public Data
The art of personalization is about getting to know your guests. How can hoteliers do that? Through social behavior — as social media platforms and public data represent a hub of valuable information and insights that can cater to enhanced personalization both on and off the property. Ultimately, leveraging social behavior reveals the real person behind every reservation.
By strategically combining the contact, demographic, and booking information from reservation data with personal preference and social behavior information from social media and review sites, hoteliers can develop comprehensive guest profiles. Aggregated insights can give hoteliers an enhanced perspective of values, preferences, primary communication channels, social influence, social topics, hobbies, and more. This, in turn, helps hoteliers to engage in relevant conversations. Hoteliers can create targeted campaigns and later monitor their performance against key metrics to hone in on the most effective approach. The data derived from this segment also allows hoteliers to build comprehensive ‘guest scores’ which inform a guest’s value to their hotel. Using this score, hoteliers can easily identify high-value guests, and shape their guest experience to capitalize on their influence. This change is an important one – many hotels today are using guest personalization at an aggregate or segment level to serve insights to individual guests. This approach is somewhat backwards and limiting. Instead, hoteliers should create insights at an individual level and bubble them backwards to create segmentation and personas, using these to set OKR for marketing, operations and more.
Some companies, such as Lenovo, have found an exceptional way to collect and apply social media data, thus improving customer experience and marketing. When Lenovo zeroed in on social listening data related to their brand, in particular, they found that 97% of what was out there was irrelevant to them, but the other 3% was incredibly valuable — figuring out how to extract that 3% meant getting closer to understanding customer sentiment, making it worth the effort.
Hoteliers are also acutely aware of guest tendencies to divulge details of their experience online in the form of public data on review sites and social media. This direct feedback acts as valuable data that can not only be utilized by hoteliers to improve their offering but can also help management teams to mitigate better and respond to all types of feedback.
Loyalty Program Data
Guest loyalty is earned, not given. As such, loyalty programs have always been an integral element of the hospitality experience. However, they also offer a wealth of information in the form of ongoing data. Looking to this pillar, hoteliers can identify where individual guest dollars are spent, when they book (and why), and what perks or features are most relevant to their experience and continued loyalty. Specifically, hoteliers can track key metrics such as retention percentage to measure their loyalty program performance against set objectives. Using the data derived from this pillar, hoteliers can specify reports with member attributes to identify segments with high revenue potential, while also identifying opportunities for improvement (as in the case of engagement rate). This information informs a hotel’s offering, and it helps to shape a more effective loyalty program that resonates with guests. When we consider the acquisition of new customers is anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining new ones and customer retention by just 5% boosts profits by 25 to 95%, the intelligent use of loyalty program data is integral.
A creative approach to the traditional loyalty program was recently implemented by Virgin Hotels. Their preference program, “The Know,” was designed to create exceptional experiences. By filling in a questionnaire online, guests can choose what they’d like in their mini bar, discuss allergies, and even select a cocktail that will be waiting on arrival. Members also get the best room rates when they book direct, free room upgrades when available, special dining offers and a complimentary nightly happy hour aptly dubbed the Spirit Hour. This invites guest participation in a way that allows for enhanced personalization, and it opens the floodgates to a wealth of data that can be continuously utilized to improve the guest experience.
Guest intelligence should also integrate with booking and digital data, including user demographics and their corresponding travel segment — are they traveling solo, or are they with their family? Are they traveling for business or leisure? Are they celebrating an occasion? Today, every guest touchpoint is now an opportunity to collect data and knowing this information should influence what content is displayed. For example, a guest traveling with a friend for a celebration might want information related to local entertainment and on-property packages, while a family might require information about family-friendly services and experiences. The pair traveling for a celebration might also feel delighted by a bottle of champagne in their room, while a corporate traveler may benefit from complimentary dry-cleaning service or access to the workspace. Even in the case of an unknown guest visiting a hotel property for the first time, if that property has a guest intelligence platform, it might suggest that similar guests have stayed in the past, with corresponding cross-selling insights to apply. Guest-generated information about each stay, combined with the data pulled from reservations, social media, and loyalty programs, allows management to analyze guest responses, amplify their in-house offers, plan resources, and create and modify marketing strategies.
Ultimately, guest data intelligence is not a new trend. Hoteliers have long since recognized the importance of data when analyzing guest feedback, making business decisions, and enhancing the personalization. However, it is the ability to use data in a truly intelligent manner that will unlock the new competitive advantage moving forward. Using the information obtained from reservation data, social data and loyalty program data, integrated with digital data, hoteliers can implement a more sophisticated, 360-degree personalization strategy with data-backed decisions to drive revenue and keep guests coming back.
About the Author
The capability to understand today’s hotel guest is a priority for Concilio Labs. Terri Miller and her team developed a way to leverage hotel and public data to help hoteliers provide exceptional relevant experiences to its guests. As CEO of Concilio Labs, Terri is responsible for driving the strategic and tactical growth of the company, while ensuring innovation is at the forefront when delivering solutions hoteliers truly need. Her wealth of experience in business, management, and technology guides all facets of the company’s success. Prior to Concilio Labs, Terri was the Vice President of MICROS eCommerce leading the creative, delivery, and technical departments. With a passion for delivering results, Terri continues to grow Concilio Labs with a focus on becoming the leader in developing and delivering smart hotel products and services.
About Concilio Labs
Concilio Labs is on a mission to solve key issues in hospitality today—those of guest personalization and hotel loyalty—by developing innovative technology solutions that push boundaries. Concilio’s Insight Engine, a guest intelligence platform, empowers hoteliers with actionable insights to create personalized guest experiences that go far beyond traditional and existing capabilities in other similar tools. Other core service offerings target guest experience, including a tailored mobile app and integrated booking engine solutions for hoteliers looking to take their guest engagement to the next level. The management team has decades of proven experience working with technology leaders, including MICROS, giving them credibility and a deep understanding of the hospitality industry and its growing needs. Concilio Labs is a rapidly growing brand with offices in the Washington, DC area and Ukraine. To learn more, visit conciliolabs.com.