Create the perfect guest experience using your data
It shouldn’t be a workout leveraging your hotel’s existing data to create the perfect guest experience. Actually, it should be fun! As you start getting your data into shape, you’ll build the muscle memory that gives your team the confidence to use data daily to create the
perfect experience for each guest. Here’s your workout plan.
Phase 1: Whiteboard session
Gather your team, step up to your favorite whiteboard or your preferred brainstorming app, and get to work. This crucial step lays the groundwork for how you can plan to use your data.
First, make a list of every source of data that you either have direct access to, or could conceivably manage to. The graphic above gives you an idea of the many touch points in available across the travel ecosystem. Once you’ve built a comprehensive list of data sources, let the ideas flow. What are the ways these data can be used to build an ideal experience for each guest? In true brainstorming fashion, go broad, think big, and don’t criticize. Instead of throwing away any suggestions, see which ideas can be combined.
Think about how you can engage with your guests using these channels and think about ways in which you can improve how they move through these channels and ultimately book or engage with your hotel. Are there areas that need improvement or perhaps parts of the guest experience that don’t yet exist?
Phase 2: Data source ideas
Once you’ve identified the list of data sources, you can now look at developing 10 different ideas to work through. These ideas will form your first pilot and will allow you to test, run and measure your success. Here a few ideas of data sources to get you going.
Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google:
Review sites are excellent sources of data — both on your own hotel and your competitive set. Is there something that guests wish for when they review your hotel? Or is there something that guests especially love at your competition? Tune into direct guest feedback and make the most impactful changes first. Also, use review data to inform your marketing: If guests rave about the pool but rarely mention the gym, promote the pool as a key feature in the perfect guest experience.
Rich guest profiles:
Your own internal data should be centralized within the guest profile. This profile is the unified dashboard for guest relationships.
The front desk should refer to it as a guest is checking in to avoid the dreaded “Have you stayed with us before?” The profile should influence how the guest is handled, which room she is assigned, and how the stay is recognized and offered a benefit right on the spot. These unexpected surprises create memorable moments that contribute to a perfect guest experience.
Guest behavior data:
In addition to rich guest profiles, lean into your guest behavior data to craft personalized offers that improve guests’ stays. Beyond the typical stay data, you also know: when guests check in and out, how much time they spend in their rooms, where guests are from, and what kind of activities they like to do on-property, such as spas, restaurants, and even concierge bookings. Segment these guests and give them offers that make their stays more memorable. For example, a guest who usually books full-price premium rooms probably cares more about the experience than the price. Personalize accordingly!
These are your Most Valuable Guests. Pull the top 5-10% of guests by lifetime spend, not including corporates. Then go deep and see if there are common characteristics that may give you insight into attracting new guests with similar profiles. You may find some unexpected trends that lend themselves to mini-campaigns!
Advertising engagement metrics:
On social media and search, there’s a lot to be learned from which demographics interact with which combinations of text and creative. Mine your advertising engagement data for unexpected insights.
Frequent flyer membership:
Does your hotel offer miles for stays? It should! Knowing this information– especially around status — gives you insight into a traveler’s priorities. You can then use this information to personalize marketing messaging, and encourage behaviors related to earning miles.
Phase 3: Engage others
What you’re looking for in this phase is awareness
Hospitality is a team sport. You need to engage others in your data-driven initiative to improve the guest experience, tell them what you’re doing. Involve other teams. Celebrate wins. Document progress. Perhaps you uncovered in the first phase that there are revenue streams that need improvement or channels that don’t feel the love they should. In this situation, it would be best to work with your Revenue Management team and develop a plan of action to rectify any issues. Or perhaps you identified that the check-in process is not as streamline as it could be. In this situation, working with your Operations team will allow you to brainstorm ideas together to improve it. By identifying these areas and working together together with other teams, you’ll be able to leverage your data and put in place solutions that are based on real data instead of emotions. The more you show everyone how well it’s working, the more likely it is that the team will internalize the data-driven mindset.
Phase 4: Plan, run sand measure
Now it’s time to start your pilot.
- Plan: Start with your top 5-10 data sources
These are data that are accessible, accurate, and amendable to action. The most useful data reveal something specific about guest expectations and how a guest experiences your property. These sources can be broad, such as guest profiles, or specific, such as flight delay data. What you’re looking for are actionable data points that help you identify preferred experiences, preferences, details and/or simple notes that can be found in a guest profile, reservation or booking confirmation. When you have the data sources identified, come up with a minimum of 10 specific mini-campaigns. The best campaigns are specific, measurable, and relevant to the data source. Examples include: “Surprise guests that have stayed with us more than three times with a welcome cocktail” and “Welcome delayed guests arriving after 9pm with a late-night snack.” Crafting the right test for each data source is where your creativity comes into full effect. The more creative you are, the more memorable it will be to guests — and the more likely it will succeed.
2. Run: within a defined period of time, pilot these tasks.
Try not to add extra mini-campaigns as you get going. Keep it simple and manageable until you are most comfortable with using your data to enhance the guest experience.
3. Measure: After the pilot period ends, don’t forget to measure!
To judge success, compare guest satisfaction rates to your benchmarks. You could also identify guests in the PMS with a special tag so it’s easy to filter guests who participated in a mini-campaign. Don’t forget social media – make sure you’re tracking guest posts across all platforms to see if they shared this special treat with their followers. Share the results with your fellow team members. Collaboration throughout the process is important and will ensure the momentum for the initiative is maintained. As you analyze performance, choose which mini-campaigns you’d like to continue and which should be eliminated. Then, use the past performance to inform new mini-campaigns.
Like all good exercise regimens, practice makes perfect. As you build the habit of using data to guide your guest experience, you’ll find a natural evolution to a more agile and resilient data-savvy culture.
It’s about being creative and working as a team across the hotel. Leverage existing data sources to perfect the guest experience and use experimentation to find ways to improve and surprise and delight your guests. Accepting that some things may not work in the way you hoped they would is critical. Only then can you establish the types of engagements that reliably create the perfect experience personalized to each guest.
Would you like to improve how you manage data at your hotel? Or are you looking to improve the guest experience with the data you currently have? Contact us today to find out more.