Data is the Key to Post-Pandemic Guest Loyalty

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Data is the Key to Post-Pandemic Guest Loyalty

By Manouj Tahiliani, General Manager, MDM and Business 360 Solutions at Informatica - 02/05/2021

Once the threat of COVID-19 subsides, there will likely be a massive uptick in travel as people look to explore the world once again. In the interim, hotels must implement a data strategy that equips them for this surge and enables them to use data to win over customers, as competition will be fierce. Hotels that leverage the power of data in the cloud will have an undeniable competitive edge in the battle for loyalty.

Personalized Experiences Change the Game

By harnessing the power of data, hotels can provide guests experiences that drive true loyalty to a brand. Tailored experiences, crafted with a comprehensive understanding of a guest, are essential to providing a next-level experience that keeps guests coming back.

For example, because the San Francisco Hyatt staff knows an incoming guest loves to run - thanks to their all-inclusive view of his preferences on their data platform - they can set up his room prior to arrival with a map of running spots near the hotel, complimentary water bottles, sweat-resistant sunscreen, and extra towels—all without him having to ask.

These experiences can be activated throughout a guest’s stay. By building a cloud data strategy that offers a complete view of a guest and shares actionable insights with employees, hotels can quickly develop a unique set of ways to elevate the guest experience during their trip.

For example, if Sara mentions during check-in that she’s in New York for business, for example, the front desk associate can access details on how to personalize her stay from a database. They can proactively offer Sara things they know she might ask for based on her previous trips: faster internet, reserved time at the business center to print key documents and directions to the closest location of her favorite coffee chain.

When a hotel has a 360-degree view of their customers, that data travels with guests. This provides a foundation for further personalization and customization at every touchpoint.  By creating one-of-a-kind, personalized stays for guests with the power of data, hotels can win customer loyalty better than competitors who are offering less-personalized options (e.g., busy Sara on her business trip likely wouldn’t be wooed by spa passes).

Use Data to Set the Foundation, then Raise the Bar

There are potentially millions of customer data points at the disposal of hotels but achieving this level of data driven CX requires a strong data foundation. For example, many guests likely have several profiles within a hotel’s system. A business traveler who switches from one company to the next may use a different email or username – but all her data needs to stay in one place to provide her the best stay possible. Or maybe a guest has stayed with multiple brands under a hotel’s portfolio and has profiles with each. Being able to connect and de-duplicate these profiles is key to driving personalized experiences that generate guest loyalty.

Once the data foundation is established, hotels can use the data at their disposal to go beyond personalization to innovate and unlock new revenue streams. For example, a hotel chain might find commonalities in guests’ in-room requests and upgrade the room experience for all as a result. Or they might notice guests are increasingly inquiring about locally owned restaurants and alter their menu to emphasize locally grown food and spotlight local chefs.

With a comprehensive data strategy and view the guest in hand, one that incorporates all their preferences and data from a wide variety of sources, hotels can start to derive valuable insights that not only unlock guest loyalty, but growth. To do this at scale, hotels should leverage advanced technologies like artificial intelligence to do this well as they collect more and more data.

Democratize Data to Build Long Lasting Loyalty

With AI doing the heavy lifting, hotels can provide customer-facing employees with digestible and actionable insights to quickly put into motion to ensure each guest receives a distinct experience, designed just for them. On the flip side, hotels can also empower everyday employees—whether they work in housekeeping, at the front desk, or in the restaurant—to input data on interactions into a user-friendly system for a truly 360-degree view of each guest.

When hotels make guests feel valued on a personal level and not just as the guest in room 203, they can begin to drive deep and lasting customer loyalty. When guests recognize that a hotel truly ‘gets’ them, they’re more likely to repeat their business. And when employees see the impact experiences have on guests, they’ll be motivated to continue inputting new data on guest touchpoints into the system.

Loyalty is not only cultivated when guests are on-site. Hotels must also provide consistent, personalized omni-channel experiences everywhere a guest engages – the mobile app, the website, social channels, or over the phone. The level of service for guests at home should be no different than when they check in.

For example, by combining all data on a guest, such as their previous trip destinations, preferred scents at the spa, and dining choices, hotels can propose the perfect trip instead of an email blast sharing room rates at various locations.

Hotels that use data to build a complete view of guests elevate themselves past the competition by delivering incredible, personalized experiences. Guest experience cannot be overlooked, and hotels that cut corners on their data strategy will likely end up losing customers to those that embrace data as the great differentiator.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Manouj Tahiliani is General Manager, MDM and Business 360 Solutions at Informatica. Manouj has over 20 years of global experience with roles in Product Management, Consulting and Sales and a unique blend of business acumen and technical know-how.