How Big Data Changing Hotel Industry
I am sure you must have heard about big data as it is a new trend that everyone is talking about at the moment. However, do you know what it truly means? This article will focus on how a hotel can use big data to fully personalize the experience of its guests and replace human with artificial intelligence.
If you take a closer look, you will find that hotels are actually sitting on a mountain of big data that they are not using. The next question will be, “Why are they not doing anything with it?” I believe that this has to do with the volume of the data — it would be overwhelming for hotels to sort through this volume of data and they (especially small hotels without the necessary expertise) would also be reluctant to assign a special team mainly for data sorting. It is also hard to find a dedicated team who will be willing to put in hours every day to mapping out customer behaviors and finding useful patterns for marketing and sales.
Big data is best worked if you have good quality data and also if you do understand what the goal and prime interest of your hotel is. In many cases, you may struggle with even starting and perhaps it would help if you start finding the answers to these WH Questions.
Here are some ideas:
- Why is big data important to analyze?
- How can this improve guest satisfaction?
- Will this help the hotel to improve its revenue stream?
- Where is your guest data?
Once you have these questions answered, you are now aware that most of your guest data are in Property Management Systems (PMS) or perhaps you can also get it from channel managers and OTAs.
In general, guest data will consist of names, email addresses, dates of arrival, and dates of departure. But if you spend enough time looking through it, you will find that there is a lot more information available on it. For example, at GuestJoy, we can extract the data from all channels, including PMS, Channel Manager, Booking.com, Google, TripAdvisor, etc. We can then summarize the extracted data into a unique guest’s profile in order to predict the guest’s next purchase. This information can be pretty useful for marketing and sales. The pattern of the guest behavior, location, unique preferences, etc., can be used for marketing where it can better target marketing efforts, optimize the promotion process, and increase conversions.
The importance of big data
To personalize the guest experience and improve overall guest satisfaction, a hotel needs to engage with its guests, typically via mobile phone. From pre-arrival email, chatbot, and post-stay survey, you can track the digital footprints of guests — when they open their mails, where they click on, and how long they stay on the page. You can use this data to customize and personalize offers for the guest at the appropriate time.
Today, hotel service starts right after the guest has made the booking. This is made easy with the internet where you can engage guests instantly. However, to be effective, you will need tools to analyze data and customize the digital journey. Hotel marketers today use several tools to generate relevant additional offers prior to the guest’s arrival, so they can cross-sell during their stay and send the automation post-stay email to collect the guest’s review. The statistics have shown that 84.2% of guests prefer to stay at a hotel that offers digital guest communication. It doesn’t matter what field you are in or the size of your company: data collection and analysis will be the key to your success. (Forbes, 2016)
Using the data to improve efficiency
Booking – information, room type, date, and rate. This information can be used in the confirmation email where you are already up-selling the room upgrade to the guests and offering taxi transfers on their arrival date.
Spa – information, depending on the kind of guest and their availability, will allow you to segment spa package to leisure clients.
Sales teams – by having the ability to understand the guest beforehand, the sales teams will have a higher chance of bringing in repeat guests.
Reservation teams – using big data will save a lot of time on this as the hotel can send a pre-check-in form to guests 48 hours prior to their arrival.
OTAs – gather data from reviews of guests on the hotel. The key is speed — if you are able to get instant feedback from the guests, then you can respond faster in order to prevent negative reviews.
Not so long ago, analyzing the primary data and extracting this data from PMS had to be done manually. However, things are different today. To facilitate personalized guest communication, a hotel will require quality data from different partners like PMS, Channel Manage, Booking.com, TripAdvisor, Rate Manager, etc. Despite all these changes, a hotel will still need to establish the relevant digital channel and perform A/B testing on the overall process and strategy. However, with the help of advanced technology, a large part of this can be assembled, segmented, and analyzed without human intervention.
With big data, hotels can incrementally improve guest satisfaction and optimize workflow, thereby creating a responsive environment for delivering exceptional guest journey. For more information, I recommend you to watch a 10 minutes video: Big Data will impact every part of your life | Charlie Stryker | TEDxFultonStreet https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Q3sRSUYmys
The company focuses entirely on guest communication. With the company’s advanced technology, hotels are able to increase their revenue via upselling and collect more online reviews quicker. The software is beautifully designed and suitable for both independent and large hotel chains worldwide. The company is currently serving hotel brands in 17 different countries and fastly expanding.
About the Author
Chitralada has been working closely with the hotel industry and she is very passionate about digital marketing and online guest communication. Currently, she did a research on the impact of big data on the hotel industry and how it has evolved in the new digital era.