Big data is here to stay in the hospitality industry

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29May

Big data is growing at an incredible rate – according to Forbes, 90% of the world's data was generated in the last two years, so it's not surprise that hospitality companies are getting in on the act. With a large amount of customer touch points and the availability of third-party data sets, these businesses have more data at their fingertips than ever before.

A wide variety of these datasets are available for businesses to improve their operations, target more effectively and drive personalization across their venues and sites. From increasing revenue to improving the customer experience, here are the main ways that big data is bringing big changes to a hotel near you.

Marketing and advertising

Big data is revolutionizing the way that marketers can segment and target their customers to drive awareness, loyalty and boost the bottom line. The most successful marketers are placing data at the center of their strategies – using it to improve efficiency, reduce wasted ad spending and create a more engaging advertising experience for consumers.

For hospitality businesses, this means a more detailed understanding of guest preferences, the path to booking and other vital metrics such as abandonment and loyalty. Big data allows hospitality marketing teams to micro-target consumers based on a detailed understanding of they behave. This allows marketers to create more specific segments which can be targeted with different offers and promotions.

For example, big data can identify segments that frequently visit hotels or other relevant locations. These datasets can help to target devices that are often traveling or have even visited a competitor hotel in the recent past.

Data can ensure that these are both location and time specific, to reach the right customer with the best possible message. This is an excellent way for hospitality marketers to ensure they reach consumers with the right advertising in the place where they want to see it.

Targeting is only half of the problem for companies that want to measure ROI on their marketing spend. Big data helps to attribute marketing spend and understand how a guest books and arrives at your venue. Data links offline behavior and offline ads to digital advertising – information which business can use to understand how out-of-home advertising drives visits and bookings.

Personalization and preferences

Big data helps to illustrate preferences and allows a business to understand what their customers want. First-party data and other data types combine to create a more detailed view of customer behavior.

Feedback is an essential aspect of any hospitality business. But feedback itself is a dataset that can be utilized alongside other data to provide real value to companies looking to improve and personalize the customer experience.

This naturally extends to a company's digital inventory as well. Personalization of websites, booking processes and other online touchpoints can dramatically improve returns. Unified data is powerful to ensure customer personalization is present from awareness to visit to feedback and beyond.

More companies are using data to provide a customized service to their customers. This is made possible by internal data and surrounding external data sources – these help to identify a customer's travel patterns, real-world behavior, habits and online behavior.

Big data can also help to create a more personal experience by informing strategic partnerships or other partner discounts based on the preferences of customers. Hotels can combine transactional and location data to understand the preferences of their guests.

This information can be used to inform strategic partnerships with restaurants and offer discounts for guests to venues that they already visit.

Business intelligence and prediction

Big data is a powerful tool to understand business performance and predict what will happen in the future.

Increases in the ability to collect first-party data and the power and accuracy of other data sets mean that hospitality companies can use data to act on reliable data-driven advice.

Business intelligence runs on big data. It allows hospitality companies to understand the performance of their venues and measure new metrics that help to understand customer satisfaction and spending. This helps to identify the effect of strategic investments, such as refurbishments, menu changes, or other significant business decisions. Big data removes the guesswork from this process.

But big data is not just descriptive – it can help to predict future trends. These solutions use data to predict when the next big rush will be and allow the business to staff accordingly. This ensures that customer experience is protected and means that resources are not wasted when seasonal activity is lower. 

As one example, global hotel company Starwood Hotels and Resorts have managed an average increase of almost 5% revenue-per-room by analyzing local factors surrounding their consumer base, such as weather.

These same systems provide recommendations to improve service and increase profits in the future. Historical guest data can predict which offers and discounts are relevant for each guest, even creating new offers in real-time for future bookings or services.

Conclusion

For the hospitality industry, there are a lot of datasets around and understanding what each type does and how it can benefit your business is the first challenge. Unifying these data sets to work together will provide a rapid increase in revenue and customer experience.

The savviest companies will use big data to predict future trends, optimize their operations and understand the competition. Big data is the key to becoming a predictive and adaptive company. It is truly changing the game for the hospitality industry.

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