The hotel industry doesn’t have a good reputation when it comes to technical innovations. Antiquated systems, inflexible processes and outdated management teams are the common culprits that hinder hotels from adapting to change.
The digitalization winners
Hotels are frequently talking about digitalization, but rather than thinking through a strategic, holistic approach, they make piecemeal investments that don’t provide any benefits. The big winners of the last 10 years have been online travel agents like Booking.com or Expedia. Outside of hospitality, many industries are using technology to individualize the customer experience and make it unique. The consumer is spoiled by Netflix, Amazon, Zalando or BMW with qualitatively better and better, i.e. tailor-made offers, services and products. Every communication is unique and adapted to the interests of the recipient, every car that rolls off the production line is tailor-made. In Munich at BMW, only three identical cars come off the production line every year! Individuality is therefore not only a priority in society, but also in business.
The customer is king
But what does the situation look like in the hotel industry, an industry that calls the guest king and wants to be the benchmark for service quality? It doesn’t look good. Individualization is far from being the case. Websites are the same for all visitors, offers in newsletters are identical for all recipients, the greeting in the hotel is similar for every guest, the treatment in each room the same, etc. It is like hotels assume that every guest is the same – like individualization doesn’t count. Why is that so? There is a reason for this: Hotel managers don’t know how to put the required changes into practice.
Data: the key to personalization
The basis to increase personalization is data, which is generated nearly everywhere, in everything we do. These heaps of data, Big Data will allow hotels to personalize their guests’ experiences. However, there is one caveat – when data is in its raw form, it is difficult to work with. It must be structured and cleaned and morphed into something that hotels can work with. To turn raw data into a precious metal, hoteliers must understand the following:
1. All relevant guest data must be collected in a central system.
Hotels are working with dozens of different systems, most of which operate as an island. Even CRM systems are marketing silos in many places today. With such silos, hoteliers can never combine or understand guest data in any meaningful way. And now, especially with GDPR, whereby a guest can request his or her data on a whim, hotels should have one central source of data like dailypoint™ can offer.
2. The data must be cleaned up
Even if you only look at the PMS data, it quickly becomes clear that there are tons of duplicates. According to an analysis by dailypoint™ of more than 4.5 million bookings, hotels today have an average of more than 2.3 profiles per regular guest. That data must be cleaned up and consolidated automatically – like the dailypoint™ Data Laundry can. This is also crucial under GDPR if a hotel is to manage a guest’s opt-in preferences or fulfill a deletion request.
3. Knowledge must be generated from data
Clean data mountains are the necessary basis to build up knowledge about the guest. Data from the PMS, questionnaire system, newsletter system, WLAN, website and POS systems should converge in a central data management system. There, special AI (artificial intelligence) and machine-learning processes have to be set up that continuously search through the mountains of data and derive interests and preferences from them.
4. The new knowledge needs to be distributed
This newly designed knowledge about each individual guest must now also be used intelligently – and not only in marketing. The guest must feel that he or she is valuable and is taken seriously. Especially the operative is challenged here. For example, the knowledge about a guest’s gluten intolerance must not “get dusty” in the memo field of the PMS system, but must appear in the breakfast list, the housekeeping list etc. and be observed by the employees. The Austrian company hotelkit, for example, draws on the centrally available guest knowledge from data Management.
The Austrian company hotelkit, for example, draws on the centrally available guest knowledge from data management within the hotel. This ultimately ensures that each guest is served individually.
The advantages for hotels to focus on digitalization are obvious. Service quality becomes infinitely better, personalization becomes a reality, deeper analysis and understanding of operations is possible, marketing becomes purposeful, and GDPR is seen no longer as a threat, but as a positive force that allows the industry to improve.
Take the chance and meet us at various hospitality events such as ITB, HTNG, HITEC or HT-Next! We are looking forward to meeting you.