Raj Sond, general manager, First Data Merchant Solutions explains.
The trend towards personalisation as a key component of the customer experience has been gathering pace over the last few years. From marketing, to service delivery and promotions, an “insert name here” approach will no longer do. With the range of touch points across both digital and physical channels increasing, hotels must be able to ‘join the dots’ to ensure that guest experience is consistent, and tailored.
Data lies at the heart of this understanding.
Some recent research we conducted showed that just 22% of SMEs in the hospitality and leisure sector use data and analytics to assess interactions with customers. Boutique hotels may be able to keep track of customer information in a spreadsheet while they’re small, but this system will soon fall down as the hotel grows and becomes more popular and guests become more regular.
Hospitality is highly competitive, with guests more ready than ever to share their experiences online, which can make or break a hotel’s reputation. An individually tailored guest experience is no longer simply a ‘nice to have’. Here are my top 5 tips to creating personalised guest experiences with the help of tech:
- Pampering gets personal…
Imagine a guest walking into their hotel room to find that the minibar in their room has been stocked with their favourite snacks, the TV is on their preferred channel, and a “2 for 1” offer awaits them at the spa, as it’s a special anniversary weekend? Or that the chef has remembered dietary preferences, to leave out two special vegetarian menus? Or even, that a Wi-Fi discount has been set up for them, as they used it for the duration of their stay last time.
This is the kind of unique, luxury service that is possible for hotels to offer when they adopt the right technology that enables them to tap into rich data. It’s the type of service that separates a good experience from a great experience and will keep guests coming back – as well as making recommendations to friends and family, and the all-important online review sites.
- …and profitable
Data analytics plays an important role in helping hoteliers to understand which customers are likely to be most profitable. Who is most likely to purchase an available upgrade to a more expensive room, or frequently takes up day trip and tour offers? An understanding of this past behaviour can help hotel businesses tailor their offers and promotions to ensure that they are relevant, timely, and welcome – surprising and delighting customers while driving additional revenue through targeted, appropriate cross-selling.
- 25 hours in a day?
Small hotel owners are already rushed off their feet – from managing employees and inventory to serving customers and promoting the business, there’s already a lot going on! The good news is that the majority of this valuable data is already running through your business, it’s just a case of harnessing it to your advantage.
There is lots of technology available to help small businesses use business transaction data to help uncover new opportunities. The goal is to lift the lid on the ‘stories behind the sales’ to help you bring in new business, see how you’re performing, and understand the impact of your marketing efforts. A cloud-based system will likely appeal to growing businesses, allowing owners and senior managers to monitor hotel data from afar, rather than staying late at the end of the day, or feeling pressurised to be physically present on-site at all times.
- Technology on your side
The huge variety of technology solutions available can pose a challenge in itself for businesses – how can they make their way through all the options and ensure they invest their cash into solutions or services that prove popular with customers?
Utilising a ‘cloud’ can prove an extremely valuable test ground to address this issue, helping hoteliers migrate to new technologies without disrupting the day-to-day running of their businesses. Open platforms are ideal, allowing business owners to inject innovation into their customer service, and acquire the next big trend as an add-on, rather than committing cash to a whole new proprietary solution. Using apps in a cloud environment brings the opportunity to select the tools and applications that are required to run the business today, with the option to add additional ones as the business grows and requirements change.
- Being front of house is key
From checking stock in the hotel bar to ordering more produce for the kitchen a lot of counting goes on in hotels. Time taken by staff to manually check stock is wasted when it can be done automatically by technology. By adopting such technology, time spent by staff behind the scenes can be put to doing what they do best – making guests feel welcome and attended to.
In addition to this, by adopting tech, hotel managers need not worry about tasks like manually analysing guest surveys, developing loyalty schemes or manually writing down table bookings – with helpful apps this can be done at the touch of a button!