Tristan Gadsby, CEO of Alliants, provides advice on how to better capture and utilise hotel customer data to maximise average spend.
The hotel industry does not suffer from a shortage of customer information. The loyalty programmes of the world’s major hotel brands are vast, running to tens of millions of people, and easily dwarfing the entire populations of every single European country.
However, for the hotel sector at large – both branded and unbranded – increasing customer satisfaction and revenues does not start and end with a loyalty programme.
If the goal of your hotel or hotel group is to seriously attract new loyal customers and maximise average spend, then it’s time to re-consider your approach to customer data.
Capture data from ALL your customers
How often is the most valuable guest in the room not the primary booker? Why are hotels typically only capturing data on the primary booker? Mr & Mrs Granger might want very different things from their trip: a round of golf for her and a treatment in the spa for him. If your hotel includes destination restaurants and bars, you need to be capturing data from customers here too, and not just those who are staying overnight.
Break down data silos
For hotel employees to have access to individual digital itineraries for every guest is a great step to take because it allows for cross-selling and up-selling, making sure everyone gets the most out of their stay.
Historically, hotels have grappled with the problem of data silos sitting within different systems or departments. Often hotels have data on the same guest held separately within the PMS, the TMS, and the spa booking system. Now, cloud computing and APIs can join the dots and make complete guest data profiles available to all – the front desk, F&B, and spa employees.
Get a messaging platform
Increasingly, a further important source of customer data comes via messaging platforms. At Alliants, we power the messaging for many of our hotel clients. Post-pandemic, the volume of messages has tripled, a strong indication that this is a service guests value and enjoy. Usually, a much bigger percentage of guests use messaging than those who fill in guest satisfaction surveys.
We have found that being available to chat in the guest’s channel of choice and talking about the hotel’s services and amenities lifts customer satisfaction levels by 10 per cent. Also, auto translation allows guests to make requests and enquiries in their own language.
Messaging provides the advantage of context. You can see how guests are feeling in the moment. You can see the sentiment, and some of the most innovative hotel groups are using technology to classify these conversations and use the insights to fine tune their operations and improve the guest experience.
Make your data actionable
Now that you have customer data from a fully integrated tech stack plus messaging, what are you going to do with it? Yes, the traditional ‘Recency, Frequency and Monetary’ approach to data analysis will help you identify your highest spending customers. But then what?
The opportunities to increase revenue often arise from not making too many assumptions about what a particular guest needs or wants. A guest may have booked on a corporate or group rate, but while they are attending their conference, they often want to enjoy unique experiences within the hotel and the destination.
Rather than focusing on their rate code or loyalty status, we believe it’s more valuable to produce a concise profile, including preferences, and context. In this respect, providing a digital itinerary is invaluable.
The digital itinerary
Increasing revenue capture pre-arrival makes a lot of sense in terms of easing pressure on staff and increasing guest satisfaction. It’s a time when guests, especially leisure guests, are full of anticipation and excitement about their forthcoming trip.
A digital itinerary responds to a very real problem that hotels encounter: the fact that guests typically make requests for restaurant reservations or spa treatments on the same day or the day before. This often leads to disappointment.
That’s why we created a new concierge module within our guest experience platform – known as AXP Recommends – whereby guests can view a personalised selection of activities to book directly on their phones and see their digital itinerary update in real time.
Additionally, once the guest is on property the opportunity for upselling continues. And this is where the human touch is vital. Yes, as an industry we are deploying AI, but this must be combined with the expert customer care and knowledge of local staff to deliver truly unique experiences.