A staggering 46% of hotel marketers don’t know how Big Data is used in their organization (Hospitality Technology. 2015 Lodging Technology Study. Lowell, MA: Hospitality Technology, 2014. Print). And yet they continue to invest in utilizing these data sources – to what gain?
Big Data certainly has its benefits, but most hotel companies don’t know how to quickly and efficiently leverage massive amounts of data to understand and target guests with exactly what the guest wants, before they know they want it. Hotels need rich, actionable insights that can be easily accessed and used to entice any guest to book a stay, enrich crucial moments of their guest experience, increase share of wallet on property, and convert them into a returning loyal customer again and again. Sounds like a hotelier’s dream right?
With so many data sources available in the market today, how do hotel companies cut through the clutter of Big Data to get right to the prime cut of insights they need? There are three main things to take into account when answering this question: 1) the accuracy of the data being provided, 2) the quality of insights that the data gives, and 3) the ease at which hotel marketers can access this data for use.
1) The most useful slice of Big Data for any company these days is location data. It shows the right window of insights for hoteliers to better understand their guests by understanding their key, everyday movements in the real world. Depending on the data provider, however, accuracy of location data can vary in alarming ways. Providers use different means of capturing location-based information with different levels of accuracy associated, such as through WiFi, cellular signal triangulation, rooftop geo-fencing, block-by-block grid mapping, etc. Most types of location data alone also do not account for false visit records to locations (ex. Recording a visit for a guest at a local coffee shop, when, in actuality, they were simply on a bus driving by the coffee shop). They also do not verify attendance at a location, which can be accounted for by adding factors like dwell time and entry/exit time to location data. Finding a data provider that will not only give you the guest insights you can actually use, but that has an attendance algorithm in place to ensure accuracy can make all the difference.
2) What is the quality level of insights you need from this data for your hotel business? The answer should be, “the highest quality of insights we can get!” Location data, even if completely accurate, can only tell you part of the guest’s story – where they go and when. The next evolution of location data is now available, layering in local event and activity attendance records to the data on places your guests visit. With this data, hotel marketers not only know What their guests are doing at locations they visit, but Why they visit those locations. This gives hoteliers a rich understanding of what their guests’ interests and influencers are and what drives their intent in their everyday lives and while they travel.
3) Hotels can have all of the best data and insights available, but still need to be able to access and leverage it quickly to intelligently target and serve their guests. Which brings us to another component to take into account when picking a data analytics and segmentation partner – ease of access to the data. Big Data providers tend to leave you with massive dumps of data that take too many of your valuable resources to sort through. Look for data providers that couple the quality of data that your hotels require with various levels of analysis of that data and persona-based segmentation of your guests to quickly identify trends and specific audiences. This will help your hotel effectively target guests with personalized content and advertising, at both the corporate and property level. Also look for a data source that integrates easily into your company’s CRM, loyalty, and guest databases so you can leverage fewer of your marketing resources for a better return.