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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Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.