The industry buzz around “Big Data” is deafening.
‘Big Data Analytics ‘ – its uses, abuses, and place in the playbook of travel technology tools – has filled hundreds of articles and many thousands of words over the course of the past five years.
But there is a huge disconnect between the ethereal language of Big Data, and the actual experience of the hotel guest.
Is there a connection? How can hotel managers, owners and brand executives actually use data to make guest experiences better??
Let’s begin from a simple premise: The hotel stay is the core product of the entire leisure travel experience. So whatever the emerging technologies solve, they must center on the guest experience first and foremost.
There have been many attempts in the use of Big Data – for example, in the potential use of a hotel’s loyalty database in distribution. A few years ago, everyone started talking about ‘personalized offers’ – and despite muted results, it has already morphed into ‘hyper-personalization’.
Yet in spite of all attempts, the vision of making ‘personalized offers at every touchpoint’ continues to elude us. The marshaling of a hotel’s data for giving guests “the right room at the right time at the right price” seems like an illusory objective at best. It has been illusory since the 1990s – when the phrase was invented by creative revenue managers!
And let’s be honest: How much more “personalized” are guest experiences than they were two, three or even five years ago?
In a way, the lack of movement is not surprising, because the industry and even its leading technologists have not tackled the core problem. Indeed, next time you hear the phrase “personalization” in a meeting, ask the presenter a simple question: ‘What exactly do you mean by personalized offer?’
Likely, you will hear about restaurants, spas, attractions and other ancillary spends.
But that’s just what these offerings are – ancillary.
The fundamental question remains, how can we produce greater personalization of, and guest satisfaction from, our core product – the guest room?
Yes, the guest room – the main purchase the customer is making. It is her biggest spend, and turns into a private, almost intimate space for the duration of the stay. But once a room has been built, furnished and equipped, there isn’t much we can physically change about it, to make it more personal. And so we keep looking to anything but the room itself, to try to personalize, and improve, a guest’s stay.
One thing is for certain: so far, the impact of Big Data, and of all the valuable information being collected – which could, in fact, improve a guest stay – has been net to nil.
Read the full article at: Hotel Online