Not long ago, the only data that resorts collected were guest’s names and emails. Today, the hospitality industry is much more interested in big data and its impact on the guest experience. Most hotels and resorts have begun collecting unstructured data from both traditional and electronic sources. But creating and managing a single view of the guest requires more data, and a shift in focus.
Hotels are on the brink of having more information about guests than ever before. However, using that data in a meaningful way remains a challenge, due in part to the volume of data provided, collected, managed, and analyzed. To get the most value, it’s important to structure it in the right way. This is where modern analytics solutions allow hotels and resorts to harness their collected intelligence and turn it into actionable insights. These data analytics can be used in numerous ways—one of the most compelling uses is offering relevant guest incentives for room upgrades, dining, or gift shop discounts based on the guest’s historical purchasing preferences. With time-sensitive, personalized offers, hoteliers effectively target travelers in ways that are proven to grow guest satisfaction and drive revenue.
Becoming a Data-Driven, Service-Oriented Property
Hotels and resorts have an ecosystem of technology from which to derive guest data. The property management system (PMS) serves at the heart of guest hospitality. It integrates with ancillary solutions—including reservations, on-property dining, and others—using open integration standards. As a result, the PMS becomes the central source of guest data, ensuring easy interaction across existing business processes as well as scalability for future growth. Effective use of the data begins with having this consolidated, centralized location where the data can be easily accessed and analyzed.
Analyzing the data is essential, since the value of a guest isn’t empirically evident when simply observing their behavior. Having a single data repository provides improved control and helps identify guest patterns—essential to any guest-centric, service-oriented property. While some guests simply check-in and check-out with minimal interaction, others may spend hundreds on dining, entertainment, spa, golf, and other activities. Use the data to identify those guests as having a higher overall lifetime value to the property.
The data can also be used to identify administrative patterns, for example workflows that could be hindering staff’s ability to deliver exceptional guest service. The data helps identify bottlenecks with check-in queues, or other processes that consume an unusual amount of time when servicing a guest. Validate the data findings by having open dialog with frontline staff. Ask them to go over the process and provide ideas about where time gets wasted. Using data to understand these service area patterns will help identify precisely where improvements are needed.
Where to Start
To start, keep it simple and break it down into bite-sized goals. A good place to begin is with the “higher overall value” guests. Consider a promotional offer that targets the high value guest base with an objective of driving business into other areas of the property, such as dining or retail. Where would the business benefit most? When a promotion is personally addressed to the guest, and for a limited time, the guest is more likely to take advantage. Start small, with a finite guest base, then fine-tune it, and discuss with staff. Starting with this smaller data set provides a foundation that enables future personalized promotions to be executed with confidence, and on a much larger scale.
Every bit of data is an asset, and protecting it, as well as learning how to use it effectively, can help grow the business. The more data collected, the more opportunities for ongoing discovery and analysis of guest and service trends. At the heart of this technology ecosystem is the PMS, and when used as the true source for data collection and analysis, it helps reduce the total cost to serve guests. It drives a diverse guest experience without a significant capital outlay.
About the Author
Sridhar Laveti is vice president of products and customer support at Agilysys, Inc.