Big Data isn’t just a future trend in the hotel world — it’s already helping hoteliers create a better customer experience and a more profitable business.
For hotel owners and managers, business is never just about the numbers. Unless they can specialize their services, making each guest feel like the property has catered to their individual needs, they’ll soon see those customers head elsewhere.
So it makes sense for hospitality companies like hotels to dip into the vast resources of Big Data. By applying some advanced techniques, hotels can strategically plan to improve guests’ experiences, to create personalized and effective marketing campaigns, and to generate more productivity and revenue overall.
But it’s not enough to simply look at massive data sets and glean their hidden insights; hotel companies have to be ready to act quickly, to ‘connect the dots’ that lead to a great customer experience. Along the way, they’ll learn how to be a smarter, more effective organization — one that has a clear plan for targeting new growth areas and entering new markets as well as putting in a strong performance in their existing properties.
Let’s take a look at how hotel companies are already using Big Data to meet these objectives.
Five Ways Big Data Makes a Better Hotel
While a steady stream of revenue is important, it’s not the only indicator of success. Below are five ways – including revenue growth – that hotel companies are benefiting from analytics technology.
1. Better Forecasting (and More Revenue)
Advances in time-trend analysis means that hotels can more accurately forecast seasonal events that affect occupancy. This ranges from understanding booking behaviors to predicting cancelation rates. (For more about forecasting demand, and how it leads to revenue growth, see this post.)
2. Better Yield Management
“The right room at the right price” is a well-known hotel industry goal. Companies have been offering customer-specific rates for years, and quite successfully too. The advent of travel review sites (Yelp, TripAdvisor) and social media have given companies a vast amount of insight into consumer likes and dislikes. Add to this hotels’ own massive data reserves from CRMs and loyalty programs and you’ve got a great idea on the right price-value combination for your customers.As usual, though, hotels have to be prepared to move quickly and adapt to new trends and events. Fortunately, agile analytics programs make this flexible management style possible.
3. Better Expense Management
Running a hotel isn’t cheap: think of renovation and maintenance costs, employee wages (and overtime pay), advertising budgets, utility bills, etc. By using Big Data to forecast projected occupancy rates, hotels have been able to minimize the over- and under-scheduling of their staff. They’ve also been able to save on utilities and plan renovations for off-peak times.
4. Better Customer Satisfaction
Social media can give you an idea of what your customer likes, needs, and expects. But you can’t beat the good old-fashioned guest survey for feedback on specific properties. Guest surveys get detailed, offering a window into how guests make their choices, why they return, and what their booking decisions are based on. In turn, this gives the hotelier an awareness of behavioral motivators and some valuable background for long-term planning.
5. Better Marketing Effectiveness
By processing individual customer information through the lens of data analytics, you can personalize their offers and quite possibly sway their purchase decisions. Does your customer visit the spa every time she stays? Offer her a complementary massage with her next multi-night booking. Whatever campaign you are planning, make it as personal as possible.In your rush to the new, be careful not to forget about trusted and time-honored techniques. For example, A/B testing can help you fine-tune the performance of your landing pages. And don’t forget about the design and usability of your website; and optimized site is always a plus in marketing.
There’s no doubt that Big Data is making hotels better, both from the guests’ perspective and as a business. By creating new ways to interact with customers and figure out what they want, it has improved marketing effectiveness. And by crunching the numbers, Big Data has made operations more efficient. It’s exciting to be a part of these analytics advances that are changing the hotels industry.