5 Ways to Use Traveler Data — Without Scaring Your Guests

There’s been a surge in the use of advanced data analytics in the hospitality and travel sector. Hotels are using artificial intelligence-driven service recommendations, location-based marketing, hyper-personalized offers and other digital strategies to drive business to their brands.

Tracking demographics, page conversions, bounce rates, web KPIs and other metrics can help hospitality companies gain an edge on competitors. Tools like on-the-go price comparisons and recommendation engines that harness personal data can target offers precisely.

But it’s important not to cross the line from data-driven digital marketer to Big Brother. You have data, and it makes sense to use it — guests can benefit from a judicious application of their data. But it can be difficult to identify precisely where to draw that line. This article from Absolutdata discusses five ways to use traveler data without alarming your guests — or failing to deliver value.

1.       Make sure your offers are on target: Hotels have massive amounts of data available, so there’s no excuse for sending irrelevant offers. Use your customers’ data wisely and send them targeted offers. If they’re looking for a local getaway, don’t offer a transatlantic excursion. When your offers are on target, customers value them and are less likely to unsubscribe.
2.       Deliver a seamless experience across all channels: A Forrester report found that nearly 60% of consumers switch devices when completing simple tasks like getting directions to a destination or making an online purchase. And when customers encounter a problem via the web with a hotel app, they expect their hotel contact to know about when they call or open a chat window. If you integrate cross-channel data, you can recognize customers no matter what device they’re using, saving them the trouble of reentering information. That meets their expectations — and gains their loyalty.
3.       Ensure a personalized experience for guests at all properties: Customers who stick with a single brand are extremely valuable, so treat them like the VIPs they are with a personalized experience no matter which of your properties they visit. By sharing data and loyalty information across properties, you can enable staff at a property customers haven’t yet visited to greet them like valued repeat guests with known preferences. That increases the likelihood they’ll visit again.
4.       Always measure satisfaction, and dig for details: Asking customers to rate your hotel on a scale of one to five stars is easy, but it doesn’t tell you much. Consider using “what if” methodology to come up with ways to dig deeper. Think about how actions like integrating the booking app with the guest loyalty account could benefit your customer. Gather staff feedback on proposals like that, then incorporate specific questions into guest surveys to find out what customers think.
5.       Stand out in a crowded marketplace: It’s important for a brand to offer a promise customers value, and big data can help you figure out what your customers seek so you can brand your hotel more effectively. Are most of your customers business professionals? Young families on a budget? Retired couples? Millennials seeking an authentic experience? Each of these groups have traits that can suggest amenities to help your property stand out from the crowd.

Of course, there are a variety of ways to deploy these strategies. As a hospitality brand, your company has access to an enormous amount of customer data, and while you can and should use that information to personalize offers and target customers precisely, it’s critically important to avoid alarming guests with an overly aggressive approach. Research shows that customers are willing to share data in exchange for something of value, so make sure your use of data always delivers something customers want.

It's also important to consider how your brand is perceived and what type of customers use your hotel’s services. If your customer base skews younger, it will likely include technology-dependent guests who are aware of how browsing history and location-based marketing work. These guests would be less alarmed by aggressive targeting, as long as you accurately apply their data. Less tech-savvy guests might be turned off by offers that are clearly informed by their browsing history.

In the final analysis, it’s your call: You have data that contains insights that can drive revenue and build loyalty. Use it wisely — without scaring your guests — and you’ll gain a significant competitive edge.
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