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Data Collection and its Application for the Hotel Industry

Prabhash Bhatnagar
Prabhash Bhatnagar

Data collection

Technology has indeed positively altered the way any business is run. Almost every hotel owner knows the importance of guest satisfaction; this being one of the prime areas in bringing in revenue for a hotel property. But, how would you know? Data, lots of it!

Data allows you to understand a guest’s habits, predict decisions and understand their preferences. It’s the proper assimilation of data that will help hoteliers gain a deeper insight to improve the way the hotel functions.

While guest experience is often the most talked about subject amongst hoteliers, data, as a subject is not yet in the focus. Systematically collecting data and deriving actionable insights will help hoteliers deliver a meaningful experience. If customer experience is the prime concern, let’s understand how data collection can help hoteliers maintain existing customers and win over new ones to drive increased revenue.

Understanding Data

A hotelier can collect data through multiple methods – manually enter data on ledgers and excel sheets, or use hotel management systems that have centralized guest data (immensely useful for multi-property groups). Multiple data from different sources can be quite intimidating for a hotelier, and the primary concern lies in understanding the information before it is used.
a) A guest who wants to book online adds basic information such as name, age, address and duration of stay. He/she may also specify the room type. This kind of information is categorized as frontline data.
b) A guest may communicate his/her preferred cuisines, or make special requests. This information communicated with the hotel’s staff belongs to the spontaneous data category.
c) A guest may use the hotel’s fitness center or some members may show preference for a spa experience. This information is dependent on the guest’s behaviour at the property and is categorized as behavioural data. Any hotelier can track and observe this behaviour through the system that maintains a record of the transactions done at the hotel property.

Tailor-Made Messaging

Online advertising and marketing on social media platforms is all about putting the right message before the appropriate target group. Data collection and analysis helps hoteliers understand specific patterns of customer behaviour. It’s easy to use data analytics to understand the age group, geographical location, or gender of the user who browses a website, social media page, and other platforms. This data is useful to design relevant messages for the right customer.

Superior Customer Service

Every hotelier must know the importance of social listening. There’s a whole lot of data generated on social media channels and review sites such as TripAdvisor. It can be an overwhelming task to monitor a brand’s online reputation and what customers have to say. Yet, this is one of the most important ways to improve guest experience that impacts the revenue model. A brand’s response to customer queries or complaints will never go unnoticed. Followers of social media channels always observe how brands respond to customers online. This has a direct impact on hotel bookings particularly from new travelers seeking to find the appropriate hotel property online. It’s important to observe what customers have to say, scale up where required, and deal positively to every feedback to offer impeccable customer service. A close watch on competitors presents ample opportunities for ideas based on the kind of positive reviews and negative responses they receive.

Identifying Loyal Guests

The nature of data collected internally can be used to develop a hotel’s loyalty programs and understand the most valuable guests. An hotelier can use reservation record history, bookings made during vacation periods, website activity data and check-in data to understand a guest’s behaviour, spending capacities and degree of loyalty towards the hotel brand. This allows hoteliers to market their hotels better and make the most of this information to satisfy guests’ (knowledge-based) requirements and realize profitable revenues. For example, hoteliers can target repeat guests and make their stay even better with customizations based on their previous preferences – your guests will talk about this, online and offline, enhancing your brand’s competitiveness.

In Summary

Data collection is important but so is the action that hotel brands perform with the large amounts of details generated.

Hotel brands must remember the 4 main pillars of data.

1) Data Collection
2) Data Analysis
3) Training staff members to be experts in handling data
4) Constant tracking of metrics

A combination of these 4 steps will help hotel brands drive loyalty and create conversions for increased revenue. The key lies in how you bring all these elements together to add power to your customer information and subsequently, create enhanced guest experiences.

This article was originally published in CLH News, London.

Data collection