If you’re a hotel marketer or hotelier you will no doubt have been told how lucky you are to have access to data. This magical four-letter word and all it represents is supposedly the key to unlocking your customers and getting them through the door, then ensuring they spend well during their stay.
The digital landscape has presented the hotel sector with a wealth of opportunities because it helps gather valuable information about guests that can be used to build a picture about them and their future needs. However, as leading hotel marketers and sector experts pointed out during a discussion on the topic at The Independent Hotel Show earlier this month, the value of that data diminishes if you fail to handle it in the right way.
As the session Through the Keyhole: How Well Do You Know Your Guests?, chaired by Custard CEO Petra Clayton, revealed, there is no quick one-size-fits-all solution to mining data, but with some guidance and focus, there are some simple steps to take to get the desired impact.
Step 1: Understand the market
Data is meaningless unless you have a clear understanding of what’s happening in the wider world. This needs to be taken into account before you assess the data.
“It’s important to never look at data in isolation” advises Victoria Murden, global marketing director, Red Carnation who referenced the fact that restrictions imposed to stop the spread of Covid-19 has inevitably changed the guest demographic to a higher percentage of domestic travellers.
“The data is different from before,” agrees Vibhu Gaind, chief information officer at RBH “and you need to understand why that is first and foremost.”
Step 2: Be agile
Raj Pattni, head of insights platform, Barclay’s recommends regular assessments of data, especially when the market is as changeable as it is today.
It can also be worth looking at it from multiple angles. “You can look at the guests you have now, or you can look at from the angle of who are the guests you want,” adds Murden.
Step 3: Have objectives
If you want to make swift work of data analysis then you need to have a clear idea of what you want it to deliver.
“If you have objectives, then you know what data you are going after,” states Naureen Ahmed, director of marketing at STR.
“One of the key aspects of using data is what are you looking achieve. What are you looking to find out about your guests?” she adds.
Murden suggests asking questions about your guests and what they want to be able to target them effectively.
“Knowing customers is key. What are their preferences, what lifestyle do they have? Are they coming in as a family or a couple? Knowing this means you can package up the right services for customers when they come,” she adds.
Step 4: Make it personal (but not too much)
Once you have an understanding of market forces and know who you want to reach, use that data you have gathered from individual customers to personalise your communication to them.
Personalisation can engage customers, but Pattni warns of crossing the line and stepping into the ‘creepy’ by revealing that you know too much about your customers,
“Like sending them an email as soon as they check out, or sending a recommendation just after they’ve spoken to the concierge.”
Murden advises keeping it simple and accurate for effectiveness. “It’s a simple thing such as using someone’s name in an email. Acknowledge that they have stayed with you before. These have a big impact.”