Industry Update
Opinion Article 4 February 2016

Independent Hotels Can Beat OTAs Using Real-Time Data

If you have 60 seconds, I have 300 words that might help at the NOI line.

By John Smallwood, CEO | Travel Outlook

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To an independent hotelier, the phrase "Big Data" might be something that causes confusion – or perhaps it's simply met with a shrug. It's fair to say that in terms of hotel revenue generation, Big Data has largely become the domain of the OTAs. By monitoring browsing and purchasing habits across the web, OTAs have been able to build complex profiles that help them package personalized offers and offer deals to meet the specific desires of customers.

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But a recent article by HeBS Digital suggested that independent hotels can gain a significant advantage over OTAs by focusing on "Real-Time" data collected from guests while they're on-property, on the phone, or browsing a hotel's website. That data might include looking at whether a guest chose an upgraded room, booked a spa treatment, or splurged on a lavish meal during a previous stay, and this type of information can help hotels target customers in a far more specific way than OTAs can hope to achieve with a faceless Big Data source.

Of course, much of this information can be collected through the digital interactions that take place during the customer journey. But it's the personal communication a hotel has with a guest that often proves most revealing.

When you speak to a client over the phone or chat with them at check-in, you gain a different perspective of the client rather than a one-dimensional digital view. You can more easily assess subtleties in their speech or expressions, such as wavering over a room upgrade or potentially being interested in a sightseeing tour. The nuances of a minute-long conversation can reveal the kind of detail that thirty minutes of monitored web browsing might not.

In the end, speaking to customers, asking questions, and learning about their specific needs over the phone and in person can help you gain a richer understanding of what they might want during their stay.

OTAs and all their big data can't hope to compete with this level of informed, personal, real-time insight.

John Smallwood

John Smallwood, President and Chief Executive Officer: I oversee day-to-day activities of a growing company dedicated to helping independent hotels and hospitality businesses increase top line revenues and provide better communication with its guests. I created the Travel Outlook concept in 2006, after more than twenty years' experience in hospitality management.

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    John Smallwood
    CEO | Travel Outlook
    Phone: 505-470-3241
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