Travel and hospitality companies are only as good as the memories they can help guests create. For hotels of any kind, creating a positive experience is essential to success. With the competition often just across the street (or on the next webpage), hotels must provide superior service leading to an overall great experience.
Customers expect companies to do more than just cater to their needs: they expect their needs to be anticipated.
Hyper personalization is one way to unlock the way toward better, more tailored experiences. Lodging chains use data analytics to optimally price and manage their hotels. But what about the customer experience? Data analytics can open the ability to tune in to customer wants, and of course, deliver on them.
Big Data analytics and the travel industry are natural partners. Travelers generate enormous amounts of data during their stays and at other times (booking, researching, reviewing social media). Hotel companies can use this data to personalize every possible experience and touchpoint. They can even make use of this flood of data to create operational changes that will impact their ideal customer.
Why Big Data is Great for Customers
Big data isn’t just about what’s best for the business. There are tons of ways that life has improved for guests as a direct impact of analytics.
Mobile apps are a huge convenience. They make finding and booking a hotel room very easy. They can also be used to compare prices and weigh incentives.
Mobile web is very important too. Many customers don’t want to download apps and expect a perfect mobile experience right from their browser. Smart hotels capture new customers with a smooth experience that doesn’t require an initial time investment like a download.
Even better, customers are getting a hotel stay that’s designed for them. Customized rooms, special details, and more targeted upgrade offerings have all led to a better experience for any customer whose favorite hotel is making use of personalization data. Even something as simple as knowing where to place guests who have booked similar rooms can make a huge difference.
Personalization of the dining experience is a win for everyone. Analyzing the customer’s data trail can enable front desk personnel to recommend the right restaurant or help the customer get a reservation at an offsite restaurant.
Why Big Data is Great for Hotels
With so much data coming at them, hotels initially struggled to make use of it. Now, though, a powerful combination of mobile technology and big data analytics are making operations much more efficient.
The advent of more user-friendly dashboards has been very helpful for front desk personnel who can provide a customized experience and give specific recommendations to customers as they check in. Employees are empowered with organized, useful data (from in-house, social media and other sources). Smartphone carrying maintenance employees can be alerted to customer needs right away. On a person-to-person level, big data is incredibly impactful.
Big data can also make a sizeable impression on the big picture of running a hotel. When the hotel isn’t running at full capacity, advanced analytics steps in to cut back on utilities and other costs.
Weather and local events can also be factored in. If a special conference is on the way, room rates can be automatically bumped up.
The lifetime value of a customer is a much-talked-about subject for hotels, as over 30% of travelers visit the same hotel annually. Data analytics give hotels decision-making power about which customers to invest in.
Here’s an example of how to use analytics to grow lifetime value of a customer: Who do you think will generate more revenue: someone on a once-in-a-lifetime dream vacation, or a no-frills account exec on a business trip that he makes every quarter? Your data will tell you it’s the businessman.
Make the exec happy, and he’ll return at least four times every year. Conversely, you may never see the spend-happy vacationer again. Certainly, you want both customers to be satisfied. But you’ll go the extra mile for the repeat visitor. Big data can help you determine just what will convert a one-time customer to a repeat. And the answer is unique for each hotel.
While big data is still in the adoption phase for the hotel industry, it’s growing widely. Big data can help companies personalize promotional campaigns for their customers, price their rooms appropriately, and avoid losing money from either over- or under-booking their property.
As for customers, big data enables an even better and more personal experience every time they stay. The data is there; hotels just need to put it to work.