With hospitality on the slow mend post pandemic, we have new learnings and challenges ahead of us. Interesting patterns emerge around self-service and contactless travel, with technology adoption helping enhance guest experiences, maximizing operational efficiency and tapping new revenue streams.
In the midst of this change, how do we keep hotel experiences from becoming overwhelming, disconnected, and impersonal? At the core of this problem is something powerful but simple: data.
Hotel technology use increased 31% during the pandemic, with an additional 19% projected in 2022
Stuck in a Silo
The traditional CRM system collects decades of data, but for most part, this data remains inaccessible and under-utilised, often only available to few departments, if at all. An average 200-room hotel for instance, collects 1,500 guest data points. When facing guests however, staff struggle to access any of it in a timely manner. Research consistently shows that 60% to 73% of all data within an enterprise goes unused for analytics. An inability to access data when facing guests creates frictions for every guest at every step of their stay. It creates frustration and stress for staff, as staff are not data managers, and creates tremendous inefficiencies in daily operations.
Moving to Customer Data Platforms
Hotel operators like Wyndham and travel giants like Airbnb are thinking beyond CRMs to Customer Data Platforms.
81% of respondents report that their guest-facing technologies are either on par or better than their competitors, according to HT's 2022 Lodging Technology Study
A CDP allows for a database which is accessible across systems and across departments, so each guest is treated consistently, even as staff and circumstances change. It means recognising which guest prefers a room by the elevator, which one has a nut allergy and which one has a flight to catch in the evening. Miss these details and hotels deliver service, marketing and promotions that feel impersonal and off the mark.
The Right Time for First-party Data
AI responds to personalization challenges by leveraging a hotel’s own first-party data. These are critical abilities at a time when access to second and third-party data from Google, Facebook and Apple is diminishing, and fewer hotels are able to target travelers based on their online search and buying habits. First-party data presents an opportunity for hotels: it is accurate, consistent, free from privacy compliance issues and can be analyzed for an in-depth and long-term understanding of guest value. The leveraged guest data can only be used by staff, albeit at a smaller scale, with more painstaking manual intervention. Technology improves performance by selecting the right data and putting it in the hands of staff at the right time. Here, privacy and performance are not at odds — it is possible to design a compliant system that delivers the insights staff need, without compromising guest preferences and privacy.
Connecting the Dots
For hotels, technology adoption often presents a threefold challenge: high upfront investment and cost, difficulty in integration and lack of scalability, with fears of losing the attention and warmth of personal interaction. A common challenge is the struggle to find meaningful ways to use the data already in their possession. Hotels often lack the ability to extract value from data in their CRM, PMS and POS, and consequently fall short when it comes to personalising experiences for every guest.
Amazon’s AI-driven personalisation engine accounts for 35% of its sales.
Hotels need much the same: consistent, accessible, accurate data that tells the whole story. They need to learn swiftly from their data. Then they need to turn it into actions that benefit every guest.
Helping democratise access to guest data supports a hotel’s marketing and growth initiatives. So hotels can spend time, staff energy and marketing dollars with the assurance that their efforts are paying off. Without this vision, we’re at risk of running blind.
Think Like Startups
To connect with today’s guests, personalised service and persuasive content are key. Hotel PMS and CRM systems have been gathering guest data for years, it is time to activate it. Remembering guest preferences, pulling them up in a timely way makes it easier for staff to deliver consistent experiences.
We’re able to become more targeted in not only who we reach out to, but how, where and when we engage with guests. When the right data is delivered to staff as a guest approaches, hotels create a virtuous circle: a seamless experience for guests, well-prepared well-informed staff, and efficient operations. This enhances guest retention for the hotel brand with potential to generate more revenues through data activation via recommendations, offer reminders for loyal guests, and more. Hotels can boost conversion, retention, and time-to-monetization with high-quality guest data, available exactly when it’s most needed.
Creating seamless hotel guest experiences
1. Receive data, don't retrieve
2. Help staff focus on guest relationships, not data management
3. Incremental revenues via data activation: Consistent, outstanding service from all staff for every guest
About the Author
Francois Chabaudie heads up Neoma, a guest-centric tech company delivering seamless and personalized experiences for everyone in physical spaces. From hospitality to office, retail to wellness, Neoma has worked with 40 groups and created 350,000 customers journeys in millions of square feet.