Consumer Data: Digital Gold
By Mansi Bhatnagar, Managing Director at HVS Marketing Communications
Let's start with a story.
I know you must be thinking that this man is blind! However, if you knew him, you would probably pity him or laugh at him. If there is gold dust that's surfacing from the ground, one can only imagine the riches under! All he needs to do is mine it, and probably get featured in Forbes for discovering it! But, would you ever fathom that this person could be you?
What if I were to tell you that you may very well be the blind one; that you may be the man who looks at the gold dust and is simply happy to gain profit, however little, from it?
As hoteliers, we probably have more data today about our guests than Amazon did when they were trying to become the giants that they are at present. If only we hoteliers had the foresight to mine this massive amount of data and use it smartly for revenue generation – we would be the Amazon of the hospitality industry.
In fact, after the spouse and Google, we are probably the third to really know our guests. Sometimes, we even know more about their eccentricities that the other two might be aware of.
Still not convinced?
Consider this – What is it about a customer that we, as hoteliers, don't know?
We know what he is called, where he lives, how old he is, how often he travels, what he likes to eat and when, what he likes to drink, how he likes his coffee, if he needs an alarm to wake him up, what kind of bed he likes, his favourite mode of transport, whether he gets upsold easily (this last one can come in so handy, isn't it?). The list can go on and on…
Just sprinkle basic data enrichment and connect social information to what we already know, and all of a sudden we've opened a whole new Pandora 's Box (the good variety!)… from then on there is literally no limit.
Now maybe we agree, maybe we give a small nod, but the next obvious question remains – how and where to start?
Every story has a beginning, so let's just start from there!
Study your data first. Some obvious insights will pop out. Mostly it will be guests who came once but never booked again, repeat frequency, channel loyalty, F&B visits, etc. These are obvious commonalities that will be easily visible to any hotelier.
The upsell, cross-sell and repeat revenue is all hidden in this data, so let's continue with this.
Next, bring in your brand and communication. Make it a story that connects with the guest, speaks their language and not that of the hotel. Ask yourself, what will make the customer interested in my hotel, my brand. What's in it for him? Go beyond plain discounts. Anyone can outbid a discount. Sell the experience that is in store for guest and leverage your unique positioning.
Then use the magic of digital by adding a touch of personalisation in all guest interfacing communication. Start with the name. Did you know that 99% of email communication is not personalised? Be the 1% that stands out!
Now, comes the magic of marketing and communication automation. Marketing works only if it integrated. Silos in communication is so 2015! In 2016, communication needs to be consistent, seamless, real time and highly personalised across platforms – offline and online. Marketing automation takes the whole process of continuous communication across various mediums in its various flows and puts it in an algorithm (IF this, then THAT) that runs it automatically. And the best thing about automation is that you don't need a large marketing team either! The best campaigns can be handled by one capable person in the corporate office working with a competent digital agency.
So, invest in good brains within your team and ensure that the agency understand the hospitality industry and can give a strategic, consistent marketing integrated support across channels of communication.
All of this will take barely a quarter of the dedicated effort. See the revenue, which is the whole aim, jump up by a few percentage points. Reap the benefits for the rest of the year and beyond – Pure profit!
The good news is that this is just the beginning. And what you have invested in above, is all that you need to scale up to your ambition of becoming the Amazon of hospitality.
What's next? Create a customer life cycle model and map out the various guest touch points. Start connecting the dots and create more.
After that, start in depth personalisation across all touch points including offline. Enable technology including IoT (internet of things) with your ground staff, connect them to a grid and prompt them to say different things to different guests. We love being recognised and pampered.
I am hoping that you now get the idea of how we can start mining the hospitality gold quarry.
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