By Terri Miller, Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder at Concilio Labs
Last week, I had a revelation while I discussed peanut butter. I chatted with a nice woman in the aisle at my local grocery store. We debated the merits of crunchy vs. smooth, natural vs. added sugar, and of course, generic vs. branded. We each left, satisfied, with different types of peanut butter in our carts. The options were seemingly endless, as the store stocked well over a dozen varieties across several brands and sizes.
This small discussion illustrates an issue that hoteliers face every day. Beyond the obvious differences of luxury vs. budget, business vs. leisure, and Brand A vs. Brand B, what truly drives a guest to your hotel, and what makes them loyal?
While the retail industry has been quick to adapt to these changing consumer expectations, the hospitality industry has lagged, and is only now realizing that today's guest expects the same personalized experience as shoppers in retail and grocery stores.
By analyzing consumer data and understanding demographic groups, psychographics, and values, hotels can guide their guests towards the products or services best suited to their needs. This is the personalized touch that we all have come to expect. Today's consumers engage with companies that not only reflect their values, but also those companies that know what they want – seemingly even before the customer even realizes it is their desire.
Using Data to Drive Marketing & Experiences Understanding your guest's ever-evolving expectations requires the collection, analysis, and application of actionable insights gathered from various guest behavior indicators. These may include: booking tendencies, travel type, entertainment preferences, purchase behavior, social media, and more. Armed with this information, hoteliers can carefully curate customized services, as well as off and on-site engagement. As you determine actionable campaigns and offers from the data collected, ensure that you have a clear objective in mind – loyalty or new customers? Or is it owning the hotel experience?.
Turning Data into Insights Great retail-specific examples of leveraging data include Amazon, which curates its next purchase suggestions or 'daily deals' based on products you've viewed and expressed interest in before. Similarly, retail giant H&M recently partnered with the online game MyTown to gather and use information on customer location. If potential customers are playing the game on a mobile device near an H&M store and check in, H&M rewards them with virtual clothing and points; if they scan promoted products in the store, it enters them in a sweepstakes. Early results show that of 700,000 customers who checked in online, nearly half went into the store and scanned an item.
By using software that provides actionable insights, this is also within the hoteliers reach. You can track pages that guests visit, how they interact during their stay at your hotel property, what they spend on services, and how they pay. If you notice that first-time guests traveling with children tend to engage mainly with family-friendly activities, you might send them a specialized offer for on-property daycare/camp for the kids, and an adult-specific activity for the parents. You can also curate timed offers, such as flash sales, which display a countdown mechanism to show how quickly time to claim a special offer or upgrade is running out. You also should to take into consideration the purchase channel preference each guest has —via mobile, desktop, phone, email, or app. If your data reveals many of your guests prefer to receive offers on the go, for example, ensure that upgrades and specials are easily redeemable from your mobile platform. If you are losing bookings on desktop devices, add an extra "book now" special incentive, such as a hotel credit.
In the case of my peanut butter debate, I had a digital coupon, and the grocery store's app reminded me this was one of my most popular "frequently purchased items." The woman I met chose the store brand, primarily because it was cheapest. Had she been served a targeted offer, might she have purchased elsewhere? We'll never know.
These technologies already exist. They will transform each guest's experience with your hotel, and also the way in which your hotel understands and engages with each guest. Ask yourself, as a hotelier, are you keeping yourself relevant, leveraging data and advanced guest insights to exceed expectations?
Ultimately, the more you invest in understanding your guest's needs (even better than they do, at times), you can trust they will always invest back in you.
If you're interested in talking more about Concilio's Insight Engine, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll happily bring some peanut butter treats to our discussion.