For most businesses, the single most valuable category of data is customer data, often collectively managed through a customer relationship management (CRM) system.
However, managing a customer database can be challenging, and maintenance becomes increasingly complex as the organization grows.
At the center of many of these challenges is the issue of duplicate records. The management of connections between two customer profiles that belong to the same person is often referred to as record linkage, a.k.a. merge/dedupe or entity resolution. Because of the complexities involved, this is — not surprisingly — a very popular area of research in computer/data science.
For hotels today, accurately merging multiple sources of data (data from multiple property management systems, uploaded file content, etc.) is extremely challenging.
For example, a hotelier may upload a new list from an on-property event, and that list may contain a guest profile with a slightly different name from a record that is already in the property management system (PMS), while other data that follows may clearly be the same.
In this example, multiple records are created for the same person, and this quickly amplifies across multiple properties in a portfolio. The risk is that hotels may may not recognize returning guests, may unintentionally send duplicate communications to the same person and consequently damage brand reputation, or that aggregated data like spend or stays will not be calculated correctly.
Given data challenges like this, many hotels are outgrowing the capabilities of a traditional hotel technology stack, especially hotels fortunate enough to already have a large database of past and incoming guests.
Savvy hotel operators don’t want to be in the business of data processing or warehousing, and they are even less likely to be pursuing more sophisticated machine learning approaches to data management. And, they shouldn’t have to.
The good news is that forward-thinking companies are working to resolve guest profile-related data challenges for hotels, and are already receiving and managing guest data for millions of guests in widely varied formats.