Staying Relevant with the Consumer is the Holy Grail of Personalization

By Nancy Wiesenfeld Vice Presidentt of Strategic Accounts, iPerceptions | April 02, 2017

The hospitality industry is in a constant state of evolution. As new players enter the landscape, from properties to boutique hotels to online peer-to-peer marketplaces, hospitality brands continuously look for creative ways to win guests by competing on price, amenities, loyalty program benefits and other perks. With so many options to consider, it is becoming increasingly important to stay relevant with the consumer at each point of their brand journey in order to promote conversion and foster loyalty. The latest platform for differentiation is in delivering the best customer experience. This has led to large investments in personalization efforts and solutions, so that brands can delight their guests and foster a strong brand connection.

Personalizing the Experience for the ‘Unknown’ Audience

Thanks to enhancements in technology, hotels now have access to more data and intelligence on their guests than ever before. Data is being collected across the customer lifecycle from booking to check-in to loyalty program profile information. With this data, brands are able to recognize guests when they enter their hotel, ensure their room reflects their preferences, send them appropriate content and promotions in line with their profile and lifestyle. It also allows brands to communicate with consumers directly throughout their stay ( as well as before and after ) in order to ensure that their expectations are met and even exceeded.

However, this level of personalization applies to actual hotel guests – or what is referred to as a brand’s “known” audience. What about a hotel’s “unknown” audience – those that have not booked yet? This unknown audience is most likely in the research or “dream” phase of their trip – considering locations, hotels, price, amenities, etc. Indeed, hotel brands leverage many different technologies and data to personalize the experience of their unknown audience. However, since little, if anything, is known about this audience, the data is limited to the behavior they exhibit on a website, and then rules are applied to inform various marketing technologies based on that behavioral data alone.

The result is that the personalization net is cast very wide, where the initiatives that some consumers are exposed to might not be entirely relevant. How many times have consumers made a purchase and then been retargeted soon thereafter to purchase that same product? Or been on a website’s support section for a product they have, and then retargeted with an ad to purchase that very same product?

This lack of congruency means that there is an opportunity to further optimize personalization efforts and strategies by providing more granularity on a brand’s unknown audiences. And that opportunity lies in leveraging Voice of the Customer ( VoC ) data. By further informing customer profiles and segments with VoC data, hotels can put the most compelling content and offers in front of their audiences, so that brand interest, and ultimately conversion, are secured.

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Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.