Guest Service in the Digital Era

By Shayne Paddock Vice President of Product Development & Innovation, TravelClick | March 27, 2016

It's easier to keep a guest smiling if you know a little something about them. Would you buy a gift for somebody without knowing anything about them? Of course not. So why try to service a guest that way if you don't have to.

Collecting guest data is on the minds of many marketing and revenue manager these days. Not a day goes by that the term "Big Data" isn't mentioned in one of the many hospitality blogs or press releases. But what does it all really mean?

The vast majority of hoteliers are unable to deal with deciphering petabytes of data. They need tools that crunch abundant amounts of data and turn it into very distinct pieces of information that can be used to intelligently run the hotel.

Using guest data should not only be reserved for the marketing department. Hotels are missing the point if they go through the trouble of collecting guest preferences, likes/dislikes, past stay information, survey results, or any problems had during the stay and not sharing it with every department that could benefit from it. A big part of the job for today's hotel CIO is to manage guest data but more importantly get it into the hands of the hotel staff that need it, when they need it, and deliver it in a way they can consume it. Having detailed guest dashboards that are best viewed on a 24 inch monitor aren't helping the housekeeping staff too much.

Luxury hotels are very good at this but many of them put a lot of manpower behind data management that the rest of the hotel space couldn't possibly afford. Not just for the sake of doing it; luxury properties want to know everything about their hotel visitors so that they can personalize every guest experience and anticipate their every need. The way in which the data is collected, managed and utilized keep their guests smiling and help maximize the properties share of the guest wallet.

This might seem like a daunting task for the non-luxury segment, but it doesn't have to be. The bar is set so low for guests that exceeding one's expectations can be surprisingly easy. It really starts with just a few data points. Knowing if a guest is traveling for business or pleasure changes everything. Determine the nature of a guest's visit and record it somewhere on the reservation. Are they traveling with kids or not. If a guest is traveling with kids every recommendation should be centered around 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.