Hotels: Harness Data to Provide a More Personalized Guest Experience

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Hotels: Harness Data to Provide a More Personalized Guest Experience

02/08/2018

While a stellar staff and amazing amenities are certainly memorable, the key to unlocking a truly unforgettable experience that will keep your guests returning again and again is personalization. Aside from driving brand loyalty, personalization differentiates you from the competition, enabling you to stand out in an increasingly crowded environment. Why is personalization so effective? Well, to put it simply -- it makes guests feel good. In fact, more than 70% of hotel guests report having a positive experience with personalization. However, while it may seem like the obvious solution, personalizing your hotel experience is easier said than done. These tips from Zingle will help hoteliers collect and leverage data to provide their guests with a more personalized experience.

Getting to Know Your Guests

In order to personalize your guest experience you need to have an understanding of who your guests are at an individual level. But how can you possibly get to know all of the thousands of individuals revolving in and out of your doors on a daily basis? Data.

Collecting data on your guests allows you to create a profile that not only tells you who your guests are, but gives you key insights into the ways you can wow them before, during and after their stays.

There are three main challenges when it comes to collecting data on guests:

1.     How to get the data

2.     Deciding what data to use

3.     Taking actions that drive personalized experiences

But fear not. By taking the rights steps, you can overcome these challenges.

Decoding Your Data

Data volumes are exploding at an incredible rate. By 2020, our digital universe will have grown from about 4.4 zettabytes today to 44 zettabytes (44 trillion gigabytes). So, there’s certainly no shortage of data out there about your guests.

Here are some of the internal data sources that can help paint an accurate picture of who comes to your hotel.

  • Forms: personal identity information (name, gender, location, job…)
  • Surveys (preferences, likes and dislikes…)
  • Customer service records (past issues and requests)
  •  Website browsing behavior (what the guest is interested in)
  •  Purchase history (what has the guest done in the past)
  •  Marketing engagement (what types of marketing messages has the guest shown interest in?)
  •  Loyalty program (points, types of rewards redeemed)

The key to capturing data is to identify the sources that work best for you, collect the data you need, and then store it in a database. Savvy hotels capture as much relevant data as they can to avoid blind spots.

You may also want to create a customer care capture strategy detailing how customer data is to be gathered and used. Then establish a customer care policy and assign a manager as the policy’s champion.

Understanding Your Guests’ Needs

Not all guest data is the same, some is more useful than other. The key is to decide which customer information and actions truly matter to you and which do not. This will tell you exactly what data to extract.

Once you’ve extracted the right data, you need to analyze it to determine the relationships and patterns in guest activities. How are they booking rooms? Are they using rewards points, debit cards, or credit cards? Are they coming from a particular state or country?

Data analysis involves inspecting, cleaning, transforming, and even modeling data to uncover guest relationships and patterns. There are many approaches at your disposal to help you do that.

For example, you can analyze data based on the different stages of a guest's journey (research, booking, checking in, during stay, checking out, and re-engagement). Research from McKinsey found that customer journeys are 30% to 40% more predictive of customer satisfaction and churn.  

While this approach seems like a good one to use, it may not be right for your hotel. Fortunately, there are other approaches that work just as well. The secret to making data analysis work for you is to choose an approach that's right for you. Test a couple and then evaluate them based on ROI so you can choose the one that yields the best results.  

It’s important to use your hotel's business goals to drive the analyzation process, no matter what approach you choose. They’re the key to setting the right objectives for the project.

Putting the Data to Work

Collecting and analyzing data is only half the battle. The other half is leveraging the data gleaned from these activities to personalize the experience before, during and after the stay.

Before:

  • Use targeted ads to identify potential guests and send them relevant content and marketing messages to drive them to your site  
  • Engage website visitors with live chat to better understand their preferences
  • Leverage guest location to assist with shuttle/transportation arrangement
  • Send guests room-ready messages based on check-in date

During:

  • Provide recommendations on activities nearby
  • Send guests personalized coupons for hotel amenities
  • Address in-room personalized preferences
  • Ask new guests about preferences and record their responses
  • Use a mid-stay message to generate feedback, rather than waiting for the guest to provide it
  • Send notifications, emails, and text message as reminders to guests

After:

  • Upon checkout confirm that the stay was satisfactory and obtain additional feedback
  • Use past information to re-engage guests via email or text messages, such as sending birthday or anniversary wishes
  • Send useful content that guests may be interested in

The Bottom Line

Every visit, every request, and every problem solved in a hotel provides a chance to obtain actionable insights on your guests and allows you to know them better. Take advantage of these opportunities and leverage the data you collect to boost personalization and transform your hotel experience into one that leaves guests happy and get them to return again and again.