Imagine this — it’s the height of the holiday season, and your hotel is fully booked. You have limited staff, but you’re not worried. Why? Because your text messaging app helps guests easily communicate their needs and an AI assistant automatically provides accurate answers. How much simpler would that make your daily operations?
And that’s only one example of how hospitality technology can help you meet and exceed guest expectations. Automation can help reduce the time and attention required of your staff while delivering great guest experiences.
“The hospitality industry is continuing to fight the labor shortage, but hoteliers are getting savvier. Part of that is due to tech adoption. It really might be saving you more money than you think,” Johnathan Capps, CRO, Charlestowne Hotels, stated on the Hotel Moment podcast.
Market valuation for hotels that adopt technology to improve guest experiences is forecasted to grow 4x over the next decade, to $220 billion. Instead of thinking of adding technology tools to your budget as an expense, consider it an investment.
As the hospitality technology sector continues to expand, the range of choices can be daunting. Don’t stress — we put together a concise list of options for you to consider for your 2024 budget.
What you will see here:
Guest data management
Guest data management tools are a type of software that gathers data from your property management system (PMS), customer relationship management (CRM) system, as well as other sources of guest data, such as reservation systems, loyalty programs, and customer surveys. They then allow you to segment and activate this data in your marketing channels, including email, voice, text, and web chat.
Why hoteliers need a guest data management platform
Data is your hotel’s biggest asset. There’s a reason data management is a $81 billion dollar industry. Data is the foundation of modern marketing.
The data your guests share with you can be used to help you better understand their characteristics, preferences, and difficulties. This in turn can be used to find “look-alike audiences” of people with similar profiles that you can advertise to to attract new guests.
Guest data is also essential for personalization and segmentation. Sorting your customers into groups based on their interests using guest data enables you to create tailored messaging for each corresponding segment.
Once you’ve created your segments, you can see which groups of customers have the highest lifetime value (LTV) and use that information to inform how you allocate your resources.
Marketing is not one-size-fits-all. The key to successful marketing is to show the right audience the right message at the right time. Targeting your campaigns with relevant messaging will make customers feel like you know them, resulting in greater loyalty to your brand. In fact, 56% of consumers are more likely to be loyal to brands that personalize their communications.
Examples of guest data management tools
There are several kinds of software that can be used for guest data management. Sometimes they work in concert together, but they can also stand alone depending on your needs.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
CRM systems are used to organize, track, and store information about customers. Much of the data in a CRM is linked to interactions with your customers, like email campaigns, customer service tickets, or sales discussions. Hotels can use CRMs to handle data for email segmentation, reputation control, and following up on sales leads for bookings.
Some CRMs are specialized for different functions. For example, Salesforce is a CRM for sales teams, HubSpot is a CRM for marketers, and Zendesk is for customer support.
Revinate has ranked #1 for our Hotel CRM & Email Marketing solution for five years in a row from Hotel Tech Report.
Data Management Platform (DMP)
A DMP is a tool that assembles, organizes, and utilizes third-party data for advertising campaigns. It is much more restricted in its applications than both CRMs and CDPs. The data gathered is used for creating customized, personalized, and often anonymized advertisements that can be shared with other organizations.
DMPs cannot employ Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and their data storage periods are limited. Examples of such platforms are Google Audience Center and Adobe Audience Manager.
Customer Data Platform (CDP)
CDP software helps you break down silos between multiple datasets, merging them to give you a comprehensive look at each guest. With this single source of truth, you can access all your customer data from one place and use it to create targeted messaging. You can avoid sending multiple campaigns to the same person, and you can also better tailor offers to their specific interests.
Without comprehensive data, pinpointing your loyal customers is impossible. Email segments will not accurately represent guest activity, making them ineffective. A CDP, however, employs sophisticated machine learning and AI to combine and de-duplicate customer data from multiple sources into a single, unified profile. This grants you a clear understanding of the customer for data-driven, strategic marketing.
Simply put, better data leads to better results.
Revinate’s technology employs Advanced Profile Synthesis to integrate guest data with AI and machine learning. We have successfully combined millions of guest profiles to enhance your knowledge of your visitors.
Do you want to learn more about CDP and what it can do for your property? Read our blog, “A comprehensive guide to the hotel customer data platform.”
Automated and contactless communication
Automated and contactless communication systems facilitate interactions between guests and hotel staff without the need for physical contact or using surfaces like check-in kiosks or registration cards. It enables hoteliers to take manual and laborious duties and turn them into tasks that require minimal or no human labor.
Why hoteliers need automated and contactless communication
Automated and contactless communication systems are not new, but the Covid-19 pandemic certainly accelerated them. It has also changed guest expectations for how they want to interact with your staff, including the front desk. “A touchless, adaptable and customizable automation platform featuring all front-office operations and answering particular business requirements could be a solution that the industry needs post-Covid-19.”, stated in, “Contactless hospitality in a post-Covid-19 world“.
By adopting contactless communication, you show your guests that you listen to their opinions and implement their preferences — which can lead to a number of positive outcomes, including increased customer happiness, better opportunities for sales, more dialogue between customers and the business, and, naturally, a higher rate of client retention.
By utilizing automation for operational activities, your team is freed up to devote their efforts to other important activities such as pleasing guests, responding to issues, and accommodating special requests.
Examples of automated and contactless communication
You can use automation in many of your marketing and communication channels to work more efficiently.
Email marketing automation is an effortless way to increase your revenue goals. According to our customer results, automated emails, on average, generate 20% higher open rates than one-time campaigns when they are segmented and personalized to the guest.
Take pre-arrival emails, a feature of Revinate Marketing. Pre-arrival emails have an average open rate is 60.53%, with a click-through rate of 30.26%. By setting up pre-arrival emails, you can start engaging with guests before they even step foot on your property.
Some examples of automated emails are:
- “We Miss You” emails sent after a set time to encourage a return visit
- Booking confirmation emails that help generate extra revenue by offering upgrades such as views, room types, and room locations
- Welcome emails, sent when guests arrive, that share information about hotel amenities and services. This can cut down on phone calls to the front desk.
- Post-stay emails, which may include surveys or OTA win back campaigns to get guests to book directly with the hotel on their next visit
- Cart abandonment campaigns, which are triggered if a guest leaves your website before completing the booking process. You can include an incentive that inspires them to return and finish.
If you want to read real stories about how hoteliers around the world leverage automation for always-on revenue generation, take a look at IHG Australia and iNua Collection‘s success stories.
Let’s be honest — by now we’re all used to having our phones with us all the time, and texting has become the main way we keep in touch. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the average text messaging open rate is at 98%.
For hoteliers, AI texting offers a great opportunity. By making use of AI, guests can communicate with technology just like they would with the people in their daily lives — without burdening your staff.
Text messaging can foster engagement across the guest journey, including:
- Before their arrival, you can send a warm welcome message to guests to ensure a pleasant check-in experience and an unforgettable stay.
- On arrival, you can set up campaigns to welcome every guest.
- On property, you can address guest needs like requests for extra towels and room service, or if they would like to make a reservation at your restaurant for dinner, or even if they would like to extend their stay.
- Post-stay, you can collect guest feedback.
Vintage Hotels, a group of luxury hotels based in Canada, elevated guest communication by implementing Revinate Ivy, an AI-powered text messaging solution that texts with your guests from before they arrive at your hotel until they check out. Read about their success here.
Check-in and check-out
What’s special about contactless check-in and check-out?
For guests, it allows them to skip the line and complete their check-in or out process without face-to-face interaction. It’s fast, convenient, and easy. Hotels are not losing out either, as it can reduce operational costs and staff can focus on major tasks that boost productivity.
The pandemic has accelerated the use of hotel check-in software, and contactless check-in has become a lasting trend. Additionally, 26% of guests are now signaling that they prefer digital room keys.
Some notable contactless check-in tools include MEWS and Canary Technologies.
Call center technology
If you are still using on-premises telephony for your call center, you are likely sinking a large chunk of your budget into expensive infrastructure maintenance and upgrades. And how are you keeping track of call volume, leads, and follow-ups? Please don’t say sticky notes.
But if you did say sticky notes, you’re not alone. Many hotels are still using outdated tech in their call centers, in part because digital transformation of any kind is challenging to adopt, both from an operational and budget perspective. However, the results are worth it. Just ask Dream Inn Santa Cruz, who increased their outbound revenue by 600% over five years.
Why hoteliers need call center technology
Upgrades to call center technology can dramatically improve your reservation sales team’s performance, especially when you integrate your call center data with your company’s CRM.
Any call center solution worth its salt should provide you with actionable data to help you understand metrics like:
- Call volume
- Average handle time
- Call abandonment rate
- Inbound and outbound conversion rate
And much more. This data can then be used to staff efficiently and understand how your team is performing. And with easily accessible lead data, agents can sell intelligently and follow up for second-chance bookings.
Campaign tracking can then link calls to your advertising and email marketing efforts so that you know what works and what doesn’t from a marketing perspective.
After implementing Reservation Sales and RezForce, Ojai Valley Inn increased its call conversion rate by 16% and saw a 23% increase in average stay value over 12 months.
Examples of hotel call center technology
When upgrading your call center tech stack, you’ll likely encounter many Voice as a Service, or VaaS, vendors that offer cloud-based solutions with high call quality and reliability. But you should also consider whether they include the following call center technologies.
Intelligent call routing
Pairing callers with the right agent to meet their needs leads to faster call handling and better customer experiences. Your call center platform should be able to offer different types of call routing, including skills-based routing, so that only agents trained on specific room types and amenities will service your high-end guests, for example.
Other types of call routing could include idle routing, which pairs callers with the agent who has been in the “ready” status the longest, or round-robin routing. The telephony term for various routing methods is Automatic Call Distribution (ACD).
Another element of call routing includes Interactive Voice Response (IVR), where callers answer questions about what they are looking for and are then routed to the correct department.
CRM with screen pop
If your call center platform can’t integrate with your CRM, all the data and valuable insights coming through your reservation sales team will be cut off from your marketing efforts. So connecting with or including a guest data management solution should be considered an essential feature for your call center technology.
The “screen pop” element of the CRM integration means that when a caller gets in touch with you, their information will automatically be pulled up in a new screen for your agents to reference. This way, they will have access to all the relevant notes they need to add a personal touch to the call, and your guests won’t have to repeat information they’ve already provided.
Call recording is essential for evaluating the performance of your reservation agents and providing coaching opportunities. Your platform should also be equipped to be compliant with data security and privacy needs — for example, pausing recording when a guest shares their credit card information.
Without getting too technical, artificial intelligence (AI) is a technology in which a computer algorithm attempts to recreate the decision-making abilities of a human being. By now you’ve probably heard of applications like ChatGPT and DALL-E by OpenAI. But the possible applications for AI go much further.
AI can be used to make sense of large hospitality datasets, from revenue management to voice pattern recognition to customer support. Accenture’s recent study has indicated that AI could raise efficiency levels by as much as 40% by 2035. The hospitality sector should keep a close watch on ways to utilize these new tools.
Why hoteliers need artificial intelligence
Many worry about AI replacing humans or taking away jobs, but there are some things that only people can do: forge meaningful, personal connections with guests. That is what your staff should be spending their time on.
But instead, a lot of time and effort is likely wasted doing the same tasks over and over again, answering the same questions. Given the ongoing staff shortages, this is time you can’t afford to lose. AI can help.
AI can also improve human decision-making by using complex calculations to optimize upsell recommendations based on guest preferences, and even room pricing and availability.
Examples of artificial intelligence in hospitality
There are countless applications for AI within the hospitality sector, but here are 3 of our favorites.
Conversational AI imitates a human interaction, and can be applied to both voice and text messaging. For example, Ivy, Revinate’s text messaging solution, has been mistaken for a real person by guests who give her a shout-out in their reviews.
With conversational AI, hoteliers can automate large elements of the guest experience and customer support, freeing your staff from repetitive questions and activities. These messaging bots can also drive revenue with targeted upsell offers and recommended amenities.
Revenue management software supports hotels in selling the proper product to the correct customer at an ideal price. It addresses cost, distribution channels, and timing to optimize profitability. Hoteliers that employ a revenue management system typically witness an increase in RevPAR of between 7–20%.
AI-powered revenue management solutions can dynamically update pricing and availability based on demand and historical data. It can also forecast and optimize room availability. Some popular vendors include Duetto and IDeaS.
AI can improve hotels’ sustainability efforts by optimizing energy consumption. According to HOTELS Magazine, one Las Vegas hotel slashed energy costs by 15% with an AI-controlled HVAC system. AI can also help reduce waste by analyzing food purchasing and consumption data so that hotels can make better procurement decisions.
Start planning for 2024 now
PwC reports that the vast majority (81%) of travelers desire enhanced digital customer service from hotel brands. Therefore, investing in hospitality technology now will be a great benefit for hotels in 2024 and beyond. Rather than overhauling all systems in your hotel at once, start with one tech investment that you believe will have the greatest impact.
If you would like more information about how hotel technology can help increase your hotel revenue and improve your guest experience in 2024, don’t hesitate to contact our team.