How Combining Social, CRM and Behavioral Data Can Impact Your Digital Marketing

By Tim Sullivan Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Cendyn | February 01, 2015

We are living in a world of exponential data growth. Recent research from IBM claims that 90% of all data created since the dawn of humanity have been created in the past few years. Think about that for a minute… In the digital space, the volume and speed of data generation is so great it has created a multitude of challenges for businesses around the globe. How can your marketing efforts keep up?

The challenges begin with the huge volumes of data that are being generated, only some of which are being captured. And, the data being captured are often stored in disparate silos that don’t talk to each other. In a recent survey of senior level marketers 87% said that they rely on data to do their job well but only 45% believe they have sufficient access to data, and 60% said that there are neither processes implemented, organizational structures in place, nor the deep analytical skills needed to execute a comprehensive data strategy. The Big Data revolution has left a majority of marketers under-resourced and unprepared to handle the rising tide of data, unable to take meaningful action and generate any measurable results.

Think of the tremendous amount of data that is generated by your customers as they move through the Guest Lifecycle. While making their travel plans they may visit twenty different websites and interact with your brand dozens of times across multiple digital channels before they actually book a room: search, social, mobile, web, video, email, etc. And once they book, there are multiple touch-points across a myriad of hotel technology systems: CRS, PMS, CRM, Call Center, and Loyalty. Then they arrive on property and engage in a range of services and activities that are supported by more technology and systems: POS, Spa, Golf, In-room, Mobile App, etc. And finally, when they check out, we send them a satisfaction survey, encourage them to write a review, and to share their experience across social media. At every step along the way there are opportunities to create successful interactions with your brand or property through the use of data, or lose the guest and the revenue they represent to a competitor.

Many hospitality companies are not yet fully realizing the power of data-driven digital marketing because they have failed to implement a comprehensive solution capable of acquiring, managing, and effectively taking action on their data. This is why we all still receive email campaigns that begin with “Dear Guest,” immediately conveying that the exact same message was blasted to thousands of others, with no thought given as to who we are or why we travel. This is also why a loyal repeat guest and social media brand advocate when checking into their favorite hotel or brand for the umpteenth time, are often still asked, “Have you stayed with us before?” Hotels and brands have the data somewhere, but they don’t, or can’t, do anything with it. In its current state, it’s dumb data just waiting for someone to unlock the tremendous value it represents. This is one of the hospitality industries biggest opportunities.

Implementing a comprehensive data-driven marketing strategy can turn dumb data to smart data, allowing you to take action and generate impactful results. There are four key components to implementing a data-driven marketing strategy:

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Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.