By Terri Miller, Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder, Concilio Labs
The hotel industry dramatically changed with the launch of TripAdvisor in 2000. Today, the site is one of the largest recognizable brands in the world, with more than 315 million members and over 500 million reviews. While initially reviews were just a small part of their rollout – the site debuted with a button that asked travelers to add their own reviews. Guests embraced the concept and TripAdvisor is now one of the key instruments in measuring guest experiences within the industry. Today, the notion of soliciting user generated content, specifically for the purposes of reviews, has become mainstream, even considered a cost of entry.
Fast forward nearly two decades – almost every hotel, B&B, vacation rental, restaurant, and even geographical region uses those reviews and ratings to drive not only data, but a specific score that offers context to how a hotel or outlet is performing. Ostensibly, these scores are designed to help travelers make informed decisions about where they want to go, how they want to get there, and where they should stay.
This shift has transformed the traveler’s booking journey forever. Today, hotels not only have a review ranking, a price ranking, and a location ranking, but they also a star or diamond ranking system. While these legacy rankings remain popular, they have been placed on the decision-making backburner by most consumers in favor of scores driven by guest feedback and semantic analysis. Shouldn’t hotels be able to do the same?
Moving Towards Guest Focus Metrics
Faced with an ever-increasing sophisticated buying environment, most hotels still pay significant commissions to online travel agencies, who in turn share very little information/data about the guest that booked via their sites. As hoteliers face these challenges and struggle with competitiveness around price and product, one of the best opportunities for differentiation is guest experience. Savvy hoteliers understand the need to focus on delivering a customized, personalized guest engagement journey. Efforts to build these meaningful, one to one relationships with guests will ultimately generate more direct bookings and drive repeat visits. But how do you do this without fully knowing who your guests are and what impresses them most? Further, how do hotels understand a guest’s intent before knowing their intentions?
Enter a scoring system for your guests. Yes, turning the tables and scoring your guests can be a game-changer for hotels. Guest scores must go beyond what a guest said in their reviews – but instead look towards a multi-layered process based on the potential value of the guest to your operations, reputation, and ultimately your business.
To implement such a robust scoring system, data is critical. Data should be integrated from primary and secondary platforms such as a property management system or point of sales system as well as tertiary and publically accessible data such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter. The result is impressive: a composite score measuring the importance of both guest personas and individual travelers alike.
Compiling a Guest Score
Guest scoring requires multiple touch points as well as a sophisticated algorithm to assign a numerical value to every guest. But numbers in a vacuum aren’t enough. The score must include insights derived from the purpose of a guest’s trip, their spend, social media presence and influence, frequency of stay, as well as specific interests. Hotels can weight specific attributes to create a more relevant score; for example, guests who are socially significant may have a higher score than those who are not as well connected. A guest who spends more on-property at owned outlets per visit versus one that generates only room revenue could score better. Finally, repeat stays at a property or brand could contribute to a higher score. By assigning scores that leverage varied and weighted data points to accurately formulate a guest rating, hotels can realize enormous advantages and impact. And finally, these scores can—and should—take into account past reviews from third party channels, so hotels can learn from previous experiences from every guest.
The idea of scoring isn’t new, only the move to the travel industry, specifically the guest. Leading brands across all industries have teams of people and consultants crunching “big data” to understand patterns and behaviors in order to predict future purchase habits, trends, and motivators. There are more companies evaluating their customers from a scoring perspective, ensuring this trend will unquestionably continue to grow, and hospitality is the ideal ecosystem to benefit from this movement. For example, in the US, a person’s FICO score is one of the most prominent systems that affects virtually every area of a consumer’s life.
Smart hoteliers would be wise to take a page from the consumer playbook and adopt a solution that helps them to collect and understand all facets of their guests in order to deliver highly tailored, yet relevant, services. Guest scores has the potential to be one of the most, if not the most, efficacious methods. By providing the most memorable experiences, hoteliers can drive organic guest loyalty and in turn improve other programs, such as loyalty, in the process.
Experts agree that those who leverage the latest advancements in technology innovations and rich guest information will stay atop the ever-shifting hospitality landscape — continuing to attract, convert and engage guests. There are still research requirements to refine the development of an ideal guest scoring model – but we are well on our way to seeing this [r]evolution take hold.