By Nikhil Nath, Founder & CEO, Knowcross
We all know the saying, “The devil is in the details.” Well, for hotels, those details can often be found in one, ever-important place: data. Data acts as a magnifying glass to all areas of operations and can provide hotels with a better understanding of their day-to-day activities, staff productivity, and of course, guest expectations. Insights from data can optimize hotel performance in many ways, including:
- Increasing profits and sales;
- Providing exceptional guest service
- Boosting service level performance;
- Using complaints to advance products and services;
- Driving loyalty and positive reviews;
- Preventing issues;
- Maximizing resource allocation;
- Decreasing operational costs; and
- Better assets tracking
What’s more, data can help hotels make more informed decisions that can unlock real value. From booking to back office and marketing, data can identify weaknesses, strengths, and opportunities for growth.
Let’s take a closer look.
Using Data to Understand Guest Behavior
“Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” — Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People
When it comes to building memorable relationships with guests, learning their names is just one essential step. Today’s travelers expect to be treated as individuals when it comes to the brands they do business with, and hotels are continually looking into different strategies to keep guests loyal and engaged.
There are arguably few industries that have as great of an opportunity to gather information about their guests as hospitality. With increasingly digital touchpoints and service opportunities, hotels are positioned to learn about their guests, attend to their needs, and engage with them on a more personal level. However, that opportunity for data capture should extend beyond the initial check-in. After all, there’s a lot more to knowing a guest, than just their name, email, and reservation details on record.
Shifting away from the limited, cumbersome legacy systems of the past, hotels are now able to implement customizable technology stacks powered by mobile. These advanced hotel management solutions attend to every step of the guest journey, streamlining service in each department while integral data points are captured, and insights are drawn. With access to better guest data from every guest touch-point, hotel staff can better anticipate, respond and surpass expectations. A blend of an interactive process with a personalization strategy can help create an unforgettable experience for guests.
Personalization: Going Beyond the Basics
In a white paper published by Deloitte early last year, it was explained that “although hotels are meeting basic lodging needs, today’s consumers want, and expect, much more from each stay. Hotels need to turbocharge the guest experience and tune into their needs to drive loyalty and increase repeat business.” The report that followed broke down data-driven strategies to meet new consumer expectations, and the need for the thoughtful marriage of traditional hospitality and advanced technology, for a data-driven, authentic hospitality experience. Each segment of data represents an opportunity for personalization which, in the current climate, largely contributes to a positive guest experience. American Express Travel reported that 83% of millennials would allow brands to track their habits in exchange for a more customized experience. Even further, in a recent study conducted by Google and Phocuswright, nearly six in 10 U.S. travelers said that brands should tailor information based on their personal preferences or past behaviors. Of course, personalization will mean something different to each guest. To some guests, personalization comes in the form of first-name recognition at the front desk. For others, it might be fast and attentive responses or service recovery in the case of a complaint. Alternatively, for some, it may be access to options for their in-room experience, or personalized recommendations for local or on-property activities. This is precisely why data is so integral to modern hotels, as it can be continuously leveraged to reveal a more personal relationship with each traveler.
Data-Driven Technology to Enhance Service
Hotels can no longer rely on their products and services as their primary competitive differentiator; today, they can only compete based on their delivery of outstanding guest experience. Tracking and capturing the right information in a timely fashion, and then communicating actionable insights effectively across the organization is crucial. Technology is a bridge that enables hotels to enhance, automate, and measure trends and performance at every touchpoint. Even further, technology can be leveraged to centralize data collection from disparate sources, track KPIs and deliver meaningful information from a unified data set. Every guest visit, every service delivery, every issue, and every request represents an opportunity to understand guests better and upgrade the quality of service a hotel provides.
By investing in the most innovative service optimization platforms, hotels can automate management and reporting of operations across departments to include guest requests, housekeeping, service issues, maintenance, and more. Capturing data from all these sources to curate comprehensive guest profiles, identify service trends, and remain ahead of problems empowers staff to be more responsive from check-in to check-out, which ultimately boosts satisfaction scores and keeps guests coming back.
It’s a win-win situation, and everyone gets what they want. Guests get memorable experiences, and hotels get new efficiencies that could hardly be imagined a decade ago. Outstanding success stories can take place if organizations, and especially senior leaders, create a culture that respects and rewards data driven decisions.
And that’s just a start. The possibilities are endless.