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Data silos are messy. Here’s your way out.

Last Updated: July 8, 2024|Categories: Blog|Tags: , |8.3 min read|

This article was originally developed and published for Hospitality Net’s Data and Business Intelligence Thematics. Read more here.

I was in Miami in April for our annual NAVIGATE conference, listening to hoteliers share firsthand their struggles with managing data silos. During Revinate CEO Bryson Koehler’s keynote, he flashed this image on the screen to a knowing chuckle from the audience. The familiar sight of a server room in disarray: flickering fluorescent lights, tangled cords, towering boxes covered in dust — ‌only missing a bucket to catch leaks dripping from the ceiling.

Anyone in that room who had worked in a hotel knows a server room that looks like this is not uncommon. Unfortunately, the hotel tech stack is far from a neat flow of seamlessly integrated solutions, with data flowing freely between them. Bryson’s point was that instead of focusing on what they do best (which is delivering exceptional guest experiences), most hoteliers are still dealing with a tangle of legacy systems and point solutions, held together with questionable middleware, webhook or manual CSV exports and imports. Even in 2024, it’s still very much a mess.

Often, these complicated knots arose out of necessity—a quick solution to “somehow make it work.” When dealing with multiple core systems that don’t communicate well (your PMS, CRS, CRM, ORM, etc.), sometimes you need to get a little unorthodox. And that’s something I’ll always admire about hoteliers: their creativity and “get things done” attitude.

Continuing to work with poorly integrated systems has a cost. It results in fragmented, siloed data, which, in turn, negatively affects operational efficiency and your ability to delight your guests with personalized experiences.

For hoteliers to escape these data silos, they need to start untangling their jumbled tech stacks and introduce the right technology to future-proof their operations. Customer Data Platforms are integral to this endeavor but are not a silver bullet. Hoteliers need a CDP provider who is deeply aware of the challenges they deal with daily and who is willing to roll up their sleeves and help untie the knots.

The actual impacts of data silos

Let’s start with a simple example. Almost all hotels use some sort of a post-stay survey that is sent to the guest after checkout. Some of these surveys are even syndicated to online review sites like Google and Tripadvisor. But if your hotel is part of a group, is that survey data being used to improve the next stay of a specific guest at the next hotel? What happens if that data just sits in a silo? Or maybe that data rolls up to a group account across properties, but again, can it be leveraged for the next stay?

Imagine this scenario. Priya is a frequent business traveler and typically stays with Avertine Hospitality Group. After a stay in Avertine Chicago, Priya answered a post-stay survey and left a negative review complaining of street noise and poor sleep quality. That review was syndicated on Google, spreading its reach.

Priya has an upcoming stay in Avertine New York. Since the hotel isn’t using a CDP, they’re not aware of Priya’s recent negative review, and book her into a street-facing room. At 11pm Priya calls down to the front desk, frustrated with the noise and demanding to be moved to a quieter room. The hotel obliges, transferring her to a room away from the city sounds.

In this case, data silos between different properties within the Avertine Group and their guest feedback systems meant that the New York hotel needed to deal with an urgent late-night guest issue and add another room to housekeeping’s roster the next day, costing both time and money. And even though Priya received a solution, she was frustrated that her feedback from a hotel in the same group wasn’t listened to in the first place.

Now imagine the same scenario, but the Avertine Group is equipped with a hospitality CDP that ingests, among other data sources, post-stay surveys.

The morning of Priya’s New York booking, the hotel manager, Regina, receives an arrivals report generated from the CDP, highlighting all of the guests checking in that day and pertinent details from their guest profiles. Regina sees that Priya has stayed at several Avertine properties before, but her Net Promoter Score from her most recent stay in Chicago is a 4 — a detractor. Regina clicks in to read Priya’s review and learns about her sleep struggles.

Regina proactively ensures that Priya’s room faces the courtyard of the building, shielding her from street noise. Regina also leaves a care package with a sleep mask, ear plugs, and chamomile tea. A handwritten note reads, “The Avertine team wishes you a restful stay!”

Priya is delighted to see that her feedback was heard and addressed, and she sleeps soundly. The next day she leaves a new, glowing review — and amends her previous one to include how Avertine made her next stay special.

Operational inefficiencies

The story above is one small example of the potential cost of data silos for hoteliers — and the benefits of addressing them. Without a CDP, Avertine New York spent extra time and effort addressing Priya’s concerns. With a CDP, they were able to get ahead of the situation and turn a detractor into a promoter.

The costs of data silos don’t end there, however. Has your marketing manager ever tried to send a winter offer to ski season guests or wanted to target the drive market? They likely have to wade through the PMS and manually export lists without the right tool. Daniel Bank, reservations manager at Parkhotel Adler, dealt with this firsthand. “Trying to do even the simplest thing, like isolate loyalty guests, was time-consuming and frustrating,” he says of their legacy system.

Data silos contribute to operational costs and decreased staff productivity. Without real-time updates, there is a constant battle with inconsistent data across departments — whether it’s the front desk, reservation sales, guest services, or different properties within a group. The inconsistency means you can’t get a holistic view of your operations or guest preferences.

Diminished guest experiences

In addition to operational costs, data silos also negatively impact the guest experience. Priya’s story is just one potential example — but there are other hurdles to personalization.

Guests expect proactive, personalized communication. They expect to receive offers relevant to their interests and will quickly unsubscribe from content they don’t relate to. According to a survey by Zendesk, 68% of consumers expect brands to use their data to personalize every experience.

What does that look like? Email campaigns with upsell offers based on a guest’s favorite spa treatments. Special events marketed to loyalty-tier guests within the drive market. “We miss you” campaigns with dynamic content based on the guest’s most recent stay. The possibilities are endless—and so are the direct revenue opportunities.

According to McKinsey, businesses can generate up to 40% more revenue by deploying personalization.

So, how can hoteliers achieve this kind of personalization at scale? It starts with a Customer Data Platform.

The way out: a CDP built for hospitality

We’ve mentioned it a few times now, but let’s review the basics.

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.”

A CDP acts as a centralized data repository, bringing guest data out of silos across multiple touchpoints and channels in real time. It then uses identity resolution to cleanse and merge that data into a unified, 360-degree view of your guests. You can then segment these unified profiles to create targeted messages across channels so that you can book the right guest in the fitting room at the right rate at the right time.

There’s much more to it than that, so I invite you to check out this guide for a more in-depth resource.

However, as I mentioned up top, a CDP isn’t a silver bullet for all your data silo woes. You need to choose the right CDP (one that’s built for hospitality) and the right technology partner. CDP providers without industry expertise won’t know how to untangle that knot of legacy systems, leading to a rough implementation process and decreased time-to-value. You may end up saddled with more middleware just to get the solution running.

Furthermore, not all data integrations are created equal. Consider prioritizing integrations that will help you activate meaningful data to drive revenue. Even within first-party and zero-party data sources, there’s room for debate about what can have the most significant impact. Is it web browsing behavior? Folio spending? Spa appointments? Restaurant reservations? Survey responses? Each has its place, but hoteliers often must make tradeoffs with limited resources. Your CDP provider should be able to consult with you on the most valuable options for your individual properties and tech stack.

CDPs have transformative potential to dig into the tangle and future-proof your tech stack. But, like all things worthwhile, it can get messy. It takes time, effort, and determination to unravel the knots and build new norms and habits. But the results are worth it — and so are your guests.

About Revinate

Revinate empowers hoteliers to directly connect with their guests.

Our Guest Data Platform and communication solutions unlock revenue for hoteliers and put them in control of the full guest experience — initial research, booking, check-in, throughout the stay, and even after check out — all via the communication channels that guests prefer, whether it’s voice, text, email, or web.

More than 12,000 hotels globally bank on Revinate to drive direct revenue and deliver delightful guest experiences.

Ask us how we do it. Visit our website to get a demo.

Sanjana Chappalli
Vice President, Brand Marketing and Comms
Revinate, Inc.

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