Hospitality and travel brands have all the data any marketing professional could ever want; 77% of affluent travelers belong to at least one hotel loyalty program. These loyalty programs, along with registration data, purchase history, and customer databases, can provide personal information like a guest’s favorite meal for breakfast to broader findings such as the most likely booking time for specific customer subsets.
While hoteliers usually recognize the importance of data in understanding their guests’ preferences, the majority of hotels allocate less than 20% of their total IT budgets towards guest intelligence initiatives. A hotel’s technology stack is often comprised of many different applications, and sometimes putting this information together isn’t always easy.
But don’t be intimidated; the best way to start the data collection process is to examine the demographics of some of your larger guest segments. What is their seasonality and booking habits? What do they spend their time and money on when they stay with you?
For example, what if you decided to start keeping track of a guest’s nationality; you notice that your hotel is especially popular with Canadians. It is at this time that you make the important discovery that a huge influx of Canadians book within a very small time frame, which coincides with their winter holiday.
What would you do with this information?
One scenario is create a segment in your email list for these guests. Then, determine what they are spending their time and money on while they are staying with you. To get to this information, follow up with a mini-survey and reward them with a discount like free drinks or a meal on their next visit.
Now you can use this information to grow that segment. Offer them a discount for referrals of their friends. Based on their booking habits you should know when this group is in planning mode and create a targeted Facebook ad campaign on room rate deals specifically during this time period to entice even more of your Canadian friends to book. You now have a targeted marketing plan that actually works!
However, you don’t always need to make huge inferences or use lots of data to grow your business. Let’s say you’re a hostel near the beach in northern Peru. And you know that surfers like to hang out at your hostel for a few nights and then roam up and down the coast in search of waves. Some things to help spread the word amongst this group might be free Surfboard repairs, space for rent to keep gear while the travel, or working with some locals that know the best secret surf spots that you can organize excursions too. Tools like live chat can be used to facilitate these conversations.
Data collection methods will continue to become more sophisticated as business owners see the benefits to collecting it. Many properties are already providing guests with personalized promotions and perks learned from guest behavior apps. And guests will likely become active participants because they will enjoy the high-quality personalized experience.
To get started, you don’t necessarily need guest intelligence software like Hoperator. With a little extra work, data collection can be done manually with questionnaires, an organized spreadsheet, and some segmentation of your e-mail lists.
With a small investment in time and energy, independent hospitality and travel business owners can reap the benefits of data capture. By incrementally adding small changes and investigating the information you likely already have, you will quickly see both visitor conversions and guest retention rates dramatically increase.