The Guest Experience: Convergence of Big Data & Personalization in Hospitality

big data and personalization
Aileen Hoang
Aileen Hoang
August 27, 2014
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Big Data may be an anomaly for most hoteliers, but one thing is certainly clear: the amount of valuable information obtained from Big Data can be used to deliver an improved and personalized guest experience. Hoteliers are able to use Big Data analytics to uncover what offerings help to influence and maintain guest loyalty to a hotel. By using this information, hoteliers can develop customer-centric strategies that may fortunately draw in more business. Providing a superior guest experience can ultimately lead to an increased amount of repeat business and even additional business through guest referrals. With a large wealth of invaluable guest information, hoteliers must start to use it toward accurately personalized services and more effective guest interaction in order to remain competitive against OTAs and other hotels. 

The very first step to utilizing Big Data for personalization is to gather the right data from the right sources. There are various sources such as social media, booking data, mobile and social check-ins, real-time information from apps and more to obtain valuable guest information. Hoteliers can use this information to develop more complete guest profiles, engage in targeted interactions with guests in real-time and positively influence the guest experience to provide higher levels of satisfaction. The most important function of Big Data in regard to personalization is that it helps to develop a deeper understanding of your guests. It will help to determine who your guests are, what they need and want, where they are located, when and how they prefer to be contacted, the type of people that interact with and much more. Keep in mind that Big Data alone, in fact, is not very special or useful. Rather, it’s the potential value of actionable insights gathered from Big Data and the intelligent decisions made from them that will drive the high performance and results that hoteliers are searching for.

So, how can you use Big Data to create a personalized guest experience? Here are several examples that you can use to provide a personalized experience that guests will appreciate by using Big Data analytics:

  1. Utilize your hotel website’s search history through analytics to determine the top webpages that visitors are spending most of their time in. Use this data to provide personalized search results and allow visitors to continue the booking process from where they left off at an earlier time.

  2. React in real-time to website visitors by offering more filtering options, personalized specials and promotions, relevant content and images that reflect guests’ website activity.

  3. Remain top of mind by sending personalized emails such as targeted specials close to a guest’s birthday or anniversary, information on the largest and hottest events currently in the area with special hotel rates to accommodate travel plans and there are plenty more ideas you can develop to create personalized emails for guests.

  4. Leverage social media by using built-in or downloadable tools to look into the levels of engagement, such as likes and shares, to track and monitor the effectiveness of social outreach. After looking into the analytics, you can then determine what types of posts receive the most interaction and create additional posts related to that particular idea in a different way! For example, you may want to ask a question, use literary devices, include a call to action, share a helpful article and much more you can experiment with to provide relevant and fresh content.

By using Big Data to demonstrate that you listened to the needs and wants of your hotel guests, you can then smoothly carry on to the next conversation with them. Remembering the small things and making an effort to satisfy, or even “wow” your guests, will have them returning to your hotel on multiple occasions. Hoteliers must not ignore the existence of Big Data, but use it toward an optimized guest experience, and most importantly, a more profitable hospitality business.

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