At the risk of stating the obvious, hoteliers are in business to make money. But the foundation of the business is offering your guests a positive experience in exchange. A significant portion of your efforts to bring in more revenue hinge on understanding what your guests are looking for and finding the most efficient way to offer it to them.
Likewise, all of the tools and technology you bring in to help you run your business should further the goal of better understanding your guests.
Unfortunately, most tools only give you a narrow slice of guest behavior.
If you look at your PMS, you can see what room a guest booked over what dates, but you probably can’t see whether they stayed at another property in your hospitality group. And if you’re using a survey tool, you can collect guest feedback and respond to reviews — but that’s about it. An email marketing platform will show you whether a guest is opening or clicking on your promotions. And so on and so forth.
But if you could bring all of your customer data into one place, you would be able to understand your guests even more — and you would have all the information and insights you need to deliver the right message to the right guest at exactly the right time to sell more hotel rooms and amenities. Right?
That’s the promise of a Customer Data Platform (CDP).
In this comprehensive guide we’ll delve into the world of CDPs and explore how they can help you create effective marketing campaigns alongside exceptional guest experiences.
What you will see here
What is a Customer Data Platform?
According to Gartner, a Customer Data Platform is “a marketing technology that unifies a company’s customer data from marketing and other channels to enable customer modeling and to optimize the timing and targeting of messages and offers.”
In simpler terms, a CDP is software that collects data from multiple sources and converts it into a format that is easy to understand and use for marketing purposes. CDPs share a few key features, including:
- Data collection. Ingest customer data from any source.
- Profile unification. Dedupe and merge profiles, and match new data to the correct profile.
- Segmentation. Group customers according to their interests and behavior.
- Activation. Use data from customer profiles and segments in marketing tools.
What’s the difference between a CRM and CDP?
A CDP and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system may sound like they’re cut from the same cloth. However, they each have their own unique functions.
Customer Relationship Management systems
CRMs are invaluable tools for helping hotels manage existing guest relationships and interactions on a day-to-day basis. They excel at managing, tracking, and storing guest data related to email marketing, sales conversations, and support tickets. They help foster brand interactions, and they’re particularly useful for pipeline tracking, sales performance management, and revenue forecasting.
However, CRM systems have their limitations. They offer a narrow scope of customer touchpoints and lack the necessary depth to contextualize behavior. In addition, data syncing can be a challenge for CRMs, and they fall short in providing real-time data, omnichannel personalization, and predictive analytics.
Customer Data Platforms
A CDP on the other hand, offers a better solution for optimizing digital guest journeys to boost satisfaction and drive revenue. The unified guest profiles of a CDP help you gain deeper guest insights and provide richer guest experiences, since the database is fed by omnichannel data streams in real time. As a result, you can react more quickly, sharpening your campaigns and targeting guest segments with precision.
A CDP also provides deep analytical capabilities that provide your team with actionable insights, including the ability to create lookalike audiences for sales funnels.
Additional key differences between a CRM and CDP include identity resolution, data in/data out, and data privacy.
CRMs struggle to merge and deduplicate guest data, facing particular challenges when dealing with masked OTA customer emails. CDPs eliminate data confusion to create a clear, more accurate view of each guest. Through AI and machine learning, CDP’s precisely consolidate guest profiles despite those masked emails, typos, name changes, and other data hiccups.
Data in / data out
A CDP has integrations allowing you to sync data in from various sources, such as your PMS, restaurant, spa, or golf club. It also offers integrations that allow you to sync enriched guest data with your marketing and sales tools in real time. CRMs, meanwhile, have limited data ingestion methods. They are also notoriously difficult at exporting and syncing data into other tools.
CDPs are built to remain compliant with changing privacy regulations, helping ensure your guest data remains secure. Because a CDP integrates directly with guest data, it has additional safeguards to how that data is stored and used among teams. A CDP:
- Protects sensitive customer data from unauthorized access and misuse.
- Facilitates secure data sharing and collaboration between teams and systems.
- Ensures that customer data is managed in a responsible and ethical manner.
CRMs have some data protection features, but they are not as robust as a CDP’s.
Benefits of a Customer Data Platform
With a CDP, your sales, marketing, and guest-facing staff have access to rich guest profiles, allowing them to communicate and collaborate in ways that deliver powerful benefits.
Segmentation supercharges direct revenue
More detailed customer data means you can create more detailed, specific customer segments for targeted marketing campaigns. The more specific your segments, the more relevant the the campaign will be to your guests. And the more relevant the campaign, the more likely people are to act on it, winning you more revenue through upsells and direct bookings.
This isn’t merely conjecture — according to our data, segmented emails have 2.5x higher open rates and 3x higher click-through rates.
A customer data platform helps uncover valuable insights hidden within your guest data — such as guest preferences, interests, and spending habits. This paves the way for lucrative direct revenue opportunities through focused marketing campaigns that target specific guest segments.
For instance, maybe a deep dive into your guest data reveals you have a significant segment of guests who are passionate foodies. You can entice them to book directly by promoting a personalized package that caters to their culinary desires.
Aramark Destinations partnered with Revinate to hone their segmentation strategy and now generate an average of $136k per campaign.
Build lasting loyalty
Seven out of 10 consumers are more likely to buy from brands that recognize them by name, know their past purchase history, and can make relevant recommendations. With rich guest profiles at your fingertips, a CDP becomes the key to unlocking the hyper-personalized experiences today’s travelers seek.
Through identity resolution, CDPs also empower you to identify exactly who your loyal guests are so that you can inspire them to book direct and deepen your relationship with them. With accurate data merging and deduplication, you can more easily spot and pamper your VIPs, delivering the custom-tailored experiences that keep them coming back for more.
Revinate’s identity resolution capability, called Advanced Profile Synthesis, is powered by machine learning and AI trained specifically on hospitality data. Revinate has merged over oned million guest profiles with a profile containing a masked OTA email address. More than 750,000 of those had more than two masked emails that could be merged with an existing profile within a property’s database. That means you already have guests who are loyal to your hotel, but not loyal to the booking channel. By targeting them with the right offers, you can win even more direct revenue.
How to choose the right Customer Data Platform
Now that you understand the benefits of a CDP, your next step is selecting the right one for your hotel business requirements. Consider these four key criteria.
1. Identify your CDP dream team
Choosing the ideal CDP for your hotel must be a team effort. You need to get all the right players on board, from sales to marketing, and IT to revenue management. Doing this helps ensure a smooth implementation process and allows you to maximize opportunities for collaboration.
2. Consider the ins and outs of integration
Nearly one third of hoteliers say system integration is a top tech challenge they face. You need a CDP that seamlessly integrates with your current systems. This includes your “data in” connections, such as syncing with your PMS and booking systems, and other inbound sources of customer data like folio, restaurant, golf club, or spa data.
Equally important are the “data out” integrations that power your marketing campaigns through targeting and audience management. Revinate delivers the best of both worlds, including all the marketing applications you need right within the platform. So, you eliminate hassling with extra tools, set up, or adoption.
3. Check all the security boxes
Leveraging first-party data is crucial for providing personalized guest experiences. However, honoring guests’ privacy and consent is equally important. As privacy standards such as GDPR and CCPA evolve, finding a CDP that meets necessary compliance standards becomes essential.
A staggering 92% of business marketers acknowledge a CDP’s significance in upholding their privacy and compliance efforts. By choosing a CDP that adheres to the latest privacy regulations, you can offer exceptional experiences while simultaneously building trust, allowing your guests to rest easy knowing their data is in safe hands.
4. Find the perfect fit
To find the ideal CDP for your hotel, you need to put your investigative skills into play, critically comparing different vendors and asking some crucial questions:
- Does the provider truly understand the ins and outs of the hospitality industry?
- If you go with industry-agnostic middleware, how much customization will be required to meet your needs? Will that customization include additional costs in time and expense?
- What’s the setup process like? (Talk to previous customers to find out if it was a smooth or bumpy ride)
- Do they have the right integrations?
- What kind of customer support do they bring to the table?
You want to make certain you choose a CDP partner that has your back and has the skills to help you make the most of your customer data.
Next, maximize your CDP potential with omnichannel marketing campaigns
A CDP helps you optimize your business by activating unified guest data across every channel, from email to voice to text messaging.
By leveraging the segmentation capabilities of a Customer Data Platform, you can effortlessly tailor and automate your marketing campaigns, increasing conversions, boosting engagement, and driving your direct revenue to new heights. AutoCamp segmented and targeted their local California drive market with a one-time email campaign, achieving a 48% click-through-rate, and booking 325 room nights.
With the power of a Customer Data Platform your reservations team can make every conversation count. By tapping into guest data, representatives can personalize interactions and upsells, making guests feel known and valued. With Revinate solutions, Ojai Valley Inn centralized guest data and insights, increasing call conversions by 16% and increasing average stay value by 23%.
A CDP lets you harness guest data to actively manage your online reputation and enhance guest satisfaction, cultivating trust and loyalty. By aggregating online reviews from across the web, Botanic Sanctuary Antwerp could analyze guest feedback, identifying areas for improvement and addressing concerns promptly. As a result, their engagement levels rose along with significant increases in their email open rates and average revenue per campaign.
A Customer Data Platform empowers you to seamlessly integrate guest data to craft personalized recommendations, timely offers, and meaningful interactions with automated text campaigns. Revinate helped Vintage Hotels create deeper relationships with their guests with solutions that allow them to deliver automated communication at just the right moments in the guest journey.
Continuously enhance the value of your Customer Data Platform
Another factor that’s important to consider when purchasing a CDP — as well as on an ongoing basis — is an analysis of your CDP’s ROI.
Uncover secrets for success
Discover the true impact of your CDP, and drive future strategies with confidence, by keeping an eye on key metrics.
- Customer acquisition and retention rates
- Campaign performance, including ROI, open, conversion, and click-through rates
- Voice conversion rates and average call duration
- Average revenue per guest
- Guest satisfaction scores
Benchmark like a boss
By comparing your hotel’s performance against industry standards and competitors, you gain valuable insights into how your CDP is benefiting your business. You identify areas of strength, and discover improvement opportunities.
As an example, according to the Revinate 2023 benchmark report, Revinate customers see a 50% average open rate for segmented email campaigns sent to fewer than five thousand guests. And customers using Reservation Sales achieve a 43% overall average annual inbound conversion rate as well as a 36% overall average annual outbound conversion rate.
Find opportunities for optimization
When analyzing the ROI of your CDP, don’t overlook creative opportunities for optimization. A CDP makes it easy for you to dive into the data to uncover areas where you may be able to enhance personalization, gain operational efficiencies, and boost revenue. By fine-tuning your strategies, you’ll unleash the full power of your CDP investment.
Ready to harness the power of rich guest data for your hotel?
If you’re interested in learning more about how Revinate can help you collect, synthesize, and optimize your valuable first-party guest data, contact us today to schedule a demo!