It’s easy to be dazzled by the customer-centric, technology revolution sweeping the hospitality industry. Artificial intelligence, machine learning and predictive analytics all possess a multitude of really cool capabilities.
But the relationship between the data hotels can collect and how DORMs use that data is easily the most critical.
Duetto’s Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer and Co-Founder, Marco Benvenuti, unpacked the importance of this relationship in his Revenue Strategy Report when he encouraged hoteliers to invest in solutions for AI but also to invest in people and their skills.
“Let’s train our staffs up now, while giving them the latest data and technology to excel in revenue optimization and guest service,” he said, adding that there is still a wide-open opportunity to bring true personalization to the booking process and the on-property experience.
Panelists on a recent webinar hosted by EyeForTravel concurred. In Personalization in Travel, Steven Pinchuk, Lead Customer Intelligence & Revenue Management for IBM, Emre Mangir, COO & Co-Founder of Mozio, Inc., and Philippe Garnier, VP of Distribution and Partnerships for Hilton, offered tips for personalization success.
First, Pinchuk took a deep dive into a concept IBM calls Next Best Action and how it can be applied.
“It’s critical that you understand what the customer expects you to personalize,” says Pinchuk. “The timing of your messages and well as what your messages are will dictate whether or not the customer believes you understand them.”
Essentially, the NBA technique uses predictive analytics to create 1:1 personalized customer triggered interactions and relationships. It leverages structured or unstructured data from many sources to understand individual customer needs.
Hoteliers need such data analysis to happen in realtime, and therefore need an engine between the data and customer channels. The practice of NBA allows brands to get the best action to the customer at the right time, whether that’s an offer, a call, or something else entirely.
Later, Mangir of Mozio shared three specific tactics for starting a personalization initiative. They include:
- Using the ecosystem
- Starting small and building momentum
- Leveraging supplier relationships
“Personalization is about reducing friction in the search and travel process,” he says. “Start by tapping into your entire ecosystem. Deep linking is just one example of this. It has allowed Mozio to connect with partners to further personalize and create a seamless travel experience for our customers.”
He encouraged listeners to establish single sign-on connections with Facebook and Google and to enlist the customer in the personalization process by allowing them to store common locations or choices.
“It’s a small piece of code that can have a big impact and can allows you to drive a faster, more seamless experience,” he says. “But start small. Don’t try to jump in with machine learning or NBA. You have to build up to those and the learning you’ll get along the way will inform your strategy.”
Finally, Garnier shed some light on the complexities with data collection for hotels and how personalization can be a challenge as a result.
“We know that personalization works,” he says. “And we’re able to do some cool things, but the challenge for Hilton and other hotel brands is in reconciling the preferences we’ve capture through all the different channels. The industry is fragmented and so is the data.”
Ultimately, all three speakers agreed that personalization is about understanding which data sets will help hotels personalize the process most meaningfully. And in an age where it’s all about the customer, this is critical.