A 360 degree view of their guests
It’s said that the first step to solving a problem is acknowledging it. So, let’s begin there. Yes, it’s true.
No hotel chain, airline or other travel and hospitality service provider can claim to have a true 360° view of their guests.
Want proof? Just ask your database manager this hypothetical question. “Jack and Jill both stayed with us for 30 nights last year – all weekdays. One of them also stayed 12 weekend nights with the competition. Was it Jack or Jill?”
To understand why we don’t have a 360° view of our guests, we must first understand what that term encompasses in its truest sense. The figure below illustrates the point.
The piece that (almost) everyone has is the history with the brand/enterprise. Most service providers have made the necessary investments over the past years to develop a reasonably robust single customer identification algorithm and have tracked a lot of transactional information, especially bookings. Increasingly, companies are also getting better at capturing other data as long as it is generated within their ecosystem. On the other extreme, the biggest gap lies in understanding the guests’ relationship with the category beyond the brand – in other words, no one knows the nature or extent of their guests’ engagement with competition. The other data points exist in varying degree across organizations. Some organizations are better at extrapolating attitudinal data from research onto the database while others have made significant investments into gathering demographic information – typically an expensive initiative.
Before we get too far, let’s understand the feasibility and relevance of this.
1 Can we ever know (share) information about (with) the competition?
2 Even if it were possible, is it worth the effort and investment?
The answer to both questions is a simple and resounding YES.
Consider how banks and credit card issuers share and use information about their customers. We have all heard about Target Retail figuring out a teen girl being pregnant, before her father did. Even CPG companies have made progress by tying up with retailers to understand category and competition engagement of their customers. Information shared in the right way and at the right granularity can be extremely beneficial to hospitality and travel service providers – especially in competing with OTA’s.
While collaboration is essential to fully solve this puzzle, a lot can be done in the interim. Watch this space for our next piece on how some forward thinking marketers have pushed the envelope using technology and built something what can probably be best described as a Customer 270◦.
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