Increased Access to Online Behavioural Data Opens Doors to New Website Concepts

The challenge will be in filtering big data and using it to deliver customised, real time online experiences.

By Yunna Takeuchi Managing Director, evolution Distribution | June 07, 2015

Co- Authored by Alejandra Moreno de Tejada Marketing Manager, Big Worldwide

Imagine yourself in 2020 wanting to book your next holiday. You are in the kitchen making dinner and, as you are great at multitasking, you ask Google to research hotels in your shortlist of holiday destinations. By this time, Google will know pretty much everything about you: your likes and dislikes, who your friends and family are, your hobbies, the TV programs and films you watch, the restaurants and bars you visit, even how you spend your spare time. So, Google will be able to make some very smart deductions on what information to show you.

Google will return a number of recommendations on hotels that are within your budget and offer the services and facilities that you are interested in. It knows that your husband is a keen golfer and that you have two young kids that love outdoor activities, so the recommendations Google is making will be scarily good.
Then it will be up to the hotels' websites to sell themselves to you. And just as the search results were personalized to you, guests will expect hotels' websites and the overall booking experience to be just as good.

Hotel websites will cease to have generic homepages. We will start seeing smart websites and booking engines with dynamic content which will constantly rebuild themselves, based on the data they gather. They will know which paths are more likely to convert into a booking and how best to rearrange your content to make your site more appealing and personalized. They will highlight specific offers based on the visitor's search history. There will be no more path analysis and A/B testing; just a focus on managing your rates and content. The rest will do itself.

Some of this is already possible thanks to smart use of collected customer data. Already, the information submitted when placing bookings is useful, but we will be going a step further. A transaction is not the first time you interact with your guests. In fact, you met them a while ago – you have just stacked all that data somewhere and forgotten about it. So unbundle, dig in, and you will realize you know exactly who they are, where they are, what they are like and what they are looking for, even before they click book now. So why not use that information to only show relevant content in the first place?

Today you can choose your seat on a flight by paying an extra fee, or pay a bit more for extra leg room, for example. Booking engines will start to offer that flexibility too. A guest might prefer to sleep on the 4th floor far away from the elevator and is ready to pay a little extra for that.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.