Leveraging Reservation Data to Take Back Your Guests

By Nicole Adair Corporate Director of Revenue Management, SHR | October 28, 2018

I think it's safe to say that no one reading this article has a marketing budget that even comes close to that of the big online travel agencies. But what we all do have is our guest and reservations data already sitting in our systems, and this can provide a wealth of insight that can be both utilized in forming rate and distribution strategy, as well as for hyper-targeting marketing efforts. The key is to use the treasure trove of information hoteliers already have at their fingertips that can be analyzed and acted upon for solid, measurable contributions to the bottom line.

You as a hotelier have the ultimate competitive advantage in that you own the guest's experience as soon as they walk through your doors. Just as you have an obsessive focus on customer service, so too should you emphasize to your team the importance of collecting info that can be used in the future to better deliver appropriate offerings to the guest. True, much of the data collection and reporting options available to hoteliers today can seem intimidating, but there is so much insight to be derived simply from analyzing your reservations data, it's very much worth your time and effort.

By combining segmentation data on booking and stay behavior with your knowledge of each guest's on-property experiences and preferences, your hotel can maximize your marketing efforts while at the same time capitalizing on guests that arrive at your hotel via other channels. And with proper forecasting and the ability to layer in business where and when it is needed based on thorough understanding of your reservations data, your hotel can also increase its bottom line without the frustration that comes with feeling like you have to compete with any specific channel.

Deciphering the Reservation Story

Think about the amazing story that a single reservation tells. You know how far in advance your guest booked and through what channel. You know how long they stayed, how much they paid for their room, and hopefully how much ancillary revenue was captured. In aggregate, your reservations tell you what room types and even which days of the week are popular with which market. By looking at the rate code data, you get a clear picture of arrival and stay patterns, right down to which markets and sources are most likely to cancel.

That is a lot of knowledge! Let's break it down and start with the key piece of information that only your property has on a guest, even if they didn't book direct, and that's the total value of each guest. The most valuable guest is the one that brings the most profit to your bottom line, not necessarily the one that brings in the best room rate. As the focus continues to shift away from revenue per room and toward gross profit, this number has become more and more important. From a property marketing perspective, this number can be utilized for marketing efforts such as targeted email campaigns. But the average revenue per guest, totaled by rate or market code, can also be a useful metric when deploying allotments or making decisions in restricting distribution. You may even find that some of your higher-spending guests are coming from such channels as third-party packages, which could get lost in the shuffle if strategy is too focused on minimizing non-direct bookings.

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Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.