Data is only as valuable as the story it tells. Many hotels and vacation rentals find themselves in the midst of massive amounts of data. You’re collecting it from a wide array of sources, but how are you using it? Connecting the dots between guests and their preferences/behaviors and then drawing a line between this information and your staff—including front desk, sales, marketing, spa, restaurants, and more—allows the story to take shape.
The first step is to own the data. This requires an integrated CRM that ties back to your other primary technologies (PMS, CRS, and so forth). Without full integration, parts of the story are lost, primarily because interdepartmental teams aren’t able to work from the same data and work toward the same goals.
Wolfgang Neumann, CEO of The Rezidor Hotel Group, sees a third-party as the solution for integrating data, even for big brands. Mike Wheatley of the Silicon Angle shares Neumann’s thoughts on third-party data technology,
“Third-party partnerships enable… brands to more affordably capture, aggregate, visualize and make usable the data that he [Neumann] believes is critical to the future of hospitality revenue. In addition, he argues that third-parties also give hotels a chance to ‘claw back’ some of the revenue-driving data that’s been ceded to online travel agencies.”
Second, make your guests a part of the collection process. Always be attuned to their desires. Consider the following suggestions from data artist Jer Thorp as you collect data.
- Be completely transparent with guests about how you’ll use the data you gather.
- Ensure guests know very clearly how to control their information and/or remove themselves from your database.
- And, as Thorp says, “Treat data with humanity. Don’t think of them as your customers—think about them as your family members.”
Finally, though the bottom line is what’s at stake, use the data for more than just driving revenue. Use it to understand your guests; to enhance their experience at your property; and to personalize service based on their booking preferences, buying behaviors, and their interests and needs while traveling.
More than ever before, choosing accommodations is about so much more than where guests lay their heads at the end of the day. Bringing a human component to the way you treat insights about your guests (i.e., data) will allow you to not only capture better information but will also help you truly tailor your approach to each and every guest – to curate their experience.
For instance, if your reservations agent collects data that a couple will be celebrating their wedding anniversary during their stay, your team should be prompted to recommend romantic dinner spots and the best places to view the sunset. Consider this approach to reservations a necessity because all of your competitors are doing it. It means you must avoid just storing the data for use down the road. (This might look like sending an anniversary note/promotion the following year, an effective tactic that we’ll get to in a moment.) Instead, use the information to enhance their stay immediately. Become a part of their anniversary story today.
With a fully integrated system, your front desk staff can see what the reservations agent discovered about the couple’s stay and not only wish them well but ensure they have dinner reservations, and perhaps send a special gift along to their room. This is making a very real connection with your guests, and these are the connections that drive memories, experiences, and lifetime loyalty.
After the stay, the same integrated system can be leveraged to automate marketing outreach using what you have collected about the guests during the stay. This could be something like a special package offer for their next anniversary, timed to their booking pattern. (Last year, they reserved 60 days before their stay, so this year the offer will automatically be delivered 60 days prior.)
Luckily, NAVIS systems are seamlessly designed to capture data and tell the guest story with an integrated technology platform that centralizes guest information, produces actionable reports, and automates targeted marketing. In the end, your data empowers you to make meaningful and lasting connections with your guests. The technology keeps all the lines of communication open.
 Wheatley, Mike. How the hospitality sector is slowly waking up to Big Data analytics. March 2016.