To Generate Repeat Business, Use AI Tech That Focuses on the Future

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To Generate Repeat Business, Use AI Tech That Focuses on the Future

By Anil Kaul, CEO, Absolutdata - 09/11/2019

Repeat business is the key to a successful hospitality venture. That’s why marketers personalize guest promotions, with many relying on rules-based automated marketing technology to target past guests and generate repeat visits. But the low ROI from those campaigns indicates that most repeat business literally walks out the door when the guest leaves. The right AI solution can bring them back.

For tech-forward hospitality organizations, an intuitive AI solution can maximize repeat business by harnessing data, AI and analytics to predict how guests will behave in the future and recommend tailored promotions. The strategy works because it’s future-based rather than backward-looking. For one hotel chain, this approach increased campaign revenue by 51 percent.

If you’re looking for technology that can generate ROI at that level, there are a number of emerging AI solutions in the marketplace, but the difference is in the details. Look for a solution that allows you to put data, AI and recommendations that are based on predictions of future guest behavior to work to generate repeat business. Here’s how it works:

  1. Bring in more data: Today’s consumers expect personalized offers, so most hospitality marketing teams use guest data to craft promotions. But the problem with rules-based automated marketing is that it typically uses only a fraction of the data that’s available. Even though one-time guests have a relatively small data footprint, most of it goes unused. 

    To improve repeat business, make sure all of the available data is part of the decision-making process, including reservation information (e.g., how far in advance the reservation was made, what channel was used, etc.), check-in and check-out times and guest activities during the stay. It’s also important to bring in location data and demographics, much of which is freely available.
     
  2. Use AI and ML to process the data: By using all available data, your marketing team will have an enormous amount of information to work with, even for one-time guests. AI and ML technologies can process huge datasets and recognize patterns that human analysts would otherwise miss, providing your team with an edge. 

    For example, a reservation made well in advance on a landline paired with a late check-in and early check out might indicate business travel, whereas a guest who made a reservation a week before on an app, checked in early and checked out late is more likely traveling for leisure. That knowledge can suggest a better way to personalize promotions.
  1. Seek recommendations instead of insights: Many marketing technology solutions offer insights, which must then be analyzed by the user. It’s better to find an AI-centered solution that goes beyond insights to offer recommendations. This strategy takes human bias and error out of the equation to offer a roadmap to more repeat business. 

    One hotel chain conducted a pilot with an AI-based marketing solution, personalizing offers based on guest behavior, past offer responses and demographics. The personalization strategy included identifying micro segments, and various models were combined using AI to recommend offers for each customer. The pilot generated $8 million in incremental revenue from loyalty club members and $5 million from targeted guests outside the club.

Technology leaders in the hospitality sector can provide their companies with a significant competitive edge by introducing new technologies that improve revenue. A tool that boosts repeat business is exciting because repeat customers are the lifeblood of the hospitality industry. Not only are repeat guests more likely to return, they also tend to spend more during repeat stays.

Marketers understand this, which is why they craft personalized messaging aimed at enticing past guests into a repeat stay. But the technologies they rely on are typically focused on the past. What they need is more access to data, as well as AI and ML technologies that can process very large datasets and generate recommendations that measurably improve repeat business.

With the right AI-centered marketing technology, hospitality organizations can not only improve repeat business campaigns, they can use the data generated and self-learning technology to increase the impact and efficiency of other campaigns. With AI, you can create scalable business impact across your organization, using data and machine learning to improve operations beyond marketing.

So, if you’re looking at emerging AI technologies that can give your hospitality organization a competitive advantage, consider a solution that maximizes the value of data, harnesses the power of AI and makes recommendations that are a roadmap to success. With AI on your side, you can stop watching guests walk out the door and give them a reason to come back.

About the Author

Anil has more than 22 years of experience in advanced analytics, market research, and management consulting. He is very passionate about analytics and leveraging technology to improve business decision-making. Prior to founding Absolutdata, Anil worked at McKinsey & Co. and Personify. He is also on the board of Edutopia, an innovative start-up in the language learning space. Anil holds a Ph.D. and a Master of Marketing degree, both from Cornell University.