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 April 2019...

Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. 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.