Why Rich Guest Data is a Game-Changer for Hospitality

Seventy percent of consumers expect more personalized services from brands. But until recently, the concept of true personalization in the hospitality industry was a pipe dream.

Here’s an example: Recently, my colleague checked into a hotel where she had stayed twice before. The front desk agent warmly welcomed her. After confirming the details of the reservation, the agent asked, “Have you stayed with us before?”

Naturally, my colleague was taken aback. Not only had she stayed at the hotel before, but she had written a review of the experience on TripAdvisor. The General Manager even responded to the review. My colleague had also tweeted at the hotel’s Twitter handle a day before her arrival that she was looking forward to another visit.

This is a great example of a missed opportunity for a hotel to take the guest experience to the next level. But the reality is, the level of personalization that my colleague expected that day was highly improbable.

Why? Because most hotels use disparate platforms for daily functions like POS, PMS, CRM, email marketing and analytics, online reputation management, and others. The reality is, the vast majority of hotels don’t truly know their guests.

The front desk agent can’t be blamed for delivering an imperfect experience that day. I know that even if my colleague’s historical guest data had been captured and stored from previous visits, the data probably lives in silos.

For example, a hotel general manager recently told me that information from his loyalty system can’t be accessed by the quality team. If my colleague had booked through an OTA for her first visit, the hotel wouldn’t have access to her email unless she were to provide it in person at check-in. Requests made of the concierge are often never captured in digital form. Feedback on TripAdvisor has never been tied back to a guest when he returns to the property for his stay. And, the hotel’s marketing team has no way to look at this information in one place, to properly segment the guest database and deliver personally relevant messaging to each guest. While it’s one of a hotel’s greatest assets, guest data is often treated like an afterthought.

On the other hand, I myself have stayed at some high-touch hotels where by the time I checked out, I couldn’t wait to re-book. I received service that seemed custom-designed for my stay. The front desk agent greeted me by name, and my favorite newspaper was left outside my door. I received an email shortly after check-in asking if I would like to make a spa reservation.

However, it is important to remember that what is a treat to one person might be an inconvenience to another. Champagne and strawberries might seem like a great gesture, but what about guests who don’t drink or like strawberries? An email alerting me to a 3pm craft beer event might be great if I were traveling with a friend for leisure. But, if I were in a conference on-site, it might be an inconvenience.

Hoteliers need to get to know their guests if they’re going to start delivering the personalized, high-touch experiences that today’s travelers expect. They need to think about the relevance of their communications and service to each guest in order to increase guest satisfaction and loyalty.

Knowing what I know about hotel operations, providing this level of service is only possible with the right technology and the right training for staff members. Providing personalized service and communications during the stay (let alone pre- and post-stay) is a daunting challenge for hoteliers. What can they do to meet guest expectations?

The first step is for hotels to capture their guest data to start building profiles of each guest. The second step is for hotels to create automated and personalized communications at different touchpoints throughout the guest experience. The third step is for each staff member to have access to all available information about their guests at their disposal.

There are at least six types of guest data that a hotel can use to improve the guest experience:

1. Contact info: First name, last name, email address, physical address, mobile number
2. Demographics: Sex, age, nationality
3. Usage/History: Trip type, number of visits, average spend
4. Interests: Yoga, golf, spa, foodie
5. Preferences: Coffee, high floor, quiet room, newspaper, feather pillows
6. Experiential: Feedback from reviews or prior surveys, comments made to staff members

Think about what might be possible with all of this data compiled onto one place. You can start with a guest profile, where it is easy to access, sort, track, and take action. The front desk staff could use this profile to proactively remove down pillows for a guest with allergies. The concierge could sort by interests and send a personalized email to guests interested in golf. The restaurant manager could invite solo travelers to meet at the chef’s table for a communal meal. And post-stay, the marketing team could invite past guests who visited the spa to book their next stay when the spa reopens following a renovation.

Over time, as you build a relationship with each guest, your guest profiles will amass information and data. Soon, you’ll have Rich Guest Profiles with enough connected information to enable a truly personalized guest experience that can drive real loyalty and revenue.

In an increasingly competitive landscape, personalized actions will make the difference between an ordinary stay and one that is truly exceptional. Unfortunately, most hotels are using systems that, while powerful on their own, do not connect and share data with one another. This makes it difficult to aggregate the data to gain insights either on a single guest or the guest database as a whole.

The good news is, there are new technology platforms that specialize in integrating with multiple systems. All data, from bookings, POS, PMS, to loyalty, can be brought together into a single, cloud-based dashboard that’s easily accessed and maintained. And, it’s now possible to add public social media data, online review data, and other sources of guest information like service requests and post-stay feedback. The promise of Rich Guest Profiles is here and it will revolutionize hospitality with the potential for a truly personalized guest experience.

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15 responses to “Why Rich Guest Data is a Game-Changer for Hospitality”

  1. Dear Mr. Lee,
    I couldn’t agree more with the statement you pointed out in this article. Why? The last years I travelled a lot and visited many hotels in the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Italy. Despite one or two excellent experiences were hotel staff remembered my name and preferences the others were rather disappointing. It was not due to the quality of the food and the room but I experienced a lack of personal interest and touch. Why this fell on? Because the hotels with the great personal touch became the new standard to me!

  2. Mr Lee.

    I have been in this business over 40 years as a General Manager of the Largest World Hotel Chains, which they allways have a philosophy of creating ways (P&P) to give all ” Repeated Guests ” the wright personalized welcome and VIP Services that they are expecting and deserve.

    Therefore, I do agree with your point to RICH GUEST PROFILE DATA SOFTWARE in order to fulfill de ” LITLE THINGS THAT COUNTS” and that our Guests expect to have at their arrival, such as being treated by their name, having the room that they like,
    as weell as, personnalized room amenities and being welcome by the General Manager and all Department Heads at the GM´s Welcome Cocktail Party. etc.,etc., which we almost achieved the real concept of true personalization.

    I think that can be achieved with the proper SOFTWARE PROGRAMME, as you have mentioned, the 6 types of Hotel Services or more, will never be enough to fulfil our Guests needs.

    Best regards
    António Alves

  3. Dear Kenny…
    I’m 74, retired international transport owner (www.grupointermex.com.mx)
    My previos travels in business, led me to many places and conventions from NTTC & ATA * others dometicly in Mexico, North, Central & South America and other countries.. My participation was always led, to big hotels, international brands of different origens, where I always felt like one of hundreds other persons there. mostlly COLD ATTITUDE SINCE ARRIVALS. with few exceptions. In short ..I hate big HOTELS. THESE BROUGHT ME TO OPEN A PERSONAL HOME & VILLAS to the public (15 ROOMS) in our web, we use the word Villa, becouse o ID in Internet.. few look for Villas.. my personal interest has been opffering a personal service to our guest.. we are only 10 persons involved with a Mexican Kitchen which all of our customers love.. we have done a good job, but we need to inclease our ocupation whchoi now is about 30% of pur capacity… ANY AIDEAS FOR US?¡

  4. While a CRM programme would help profile a guest, it would not capture the interaction the guest has had through social and online platforms. Can Revinate be linked to a CRM?

    • Hi Lucille,

      Yes! Revinate unifies data from social and online platforms with CRM data. This has multiple benefits. First, the hotel can get a single view of the guest from every interaction, so the team can get to know guests and figure out what they like and dislike. Then, that information is tagged and categorized on the back end, so the hotel can start to create targeted communications to groups of guests based on things they have in common.

      Does that make sense? Please feel free to reach out if you have any further questions.

      Carolyn Murphy
      Marketing Specialist at Revinate

  5. Dear Sir,
    I agree with you all aspects but not all hotels give training to their staff and the turn over of of staff can lead to some of the cases you mentioned. I have picked some useful information from you.
    Thank you
    Paula Paddy Gwada

  6. What a great article to read as a guest who stays at a hotel and a person who run IHTF.

    I can understand that every guest loves to have a more personalized services however I believe it’s also very hard to deliver if hotels do not have the right technology or the right training for this services.

    This reminds me of me order my pizza on a saturday night were my local hut can answer my calls by calling me by my first name and even telling me my last order, this is a great touch and it saves time and I feel happy as a customer, this may not be the best example however this is one way that they have kept me coming back.

    Thank you
    Adil Shah

  7. Dear Sir/Madam,
    Greetings of the day !!!!
    Kindly suggest me for the front desk how can they improve the review score and motivate the guest to write the review so that we get a good ranking

    Veena Koul

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