We’ve all had this experience before, right? You’ve waited in line to check in to your hotel after a long flight, you finally get to the front desk, and the clerk is typing away, searching for your name, and after a few minutes she says, “Hmm, are you sure you reserved this hotel?”
Yes, you’re sure. But she doesn’t have your reservation because either you booked through an OTA, or your name didn’t transfer correctly, or the CRS was down, or for whatever reason one system didn’t communicate with the other.
My first thought when I saw the above commercial was how appropriate it was that they chose the hotel industry as an example of integrated systems that are not working together correctly. Because for all the talk we hear (and all the work we do) about personalization and cross-channel marketing, we’re a long way away from getting where we need to be.
Personalization is not just a buzzword you’re seeing on Twitter and in industry news. When I’m on the road visiting customers and talking with hotel owners, operators and revenue directors, they’re all yearning to know more about their customers. They want to take that extra step: to build a special relationship with each and every guest before they arrive, throughout their time on property and post-stay.
This isn’t the first we’ve heard of this. For years we’ve talked about collecting more information so we can get to know our guests better and make a personal connection, through marketing or on property, so that they come back the next time. For years we’ve been looking at so-called “Big Data” as the solution, but I’m sorry to say that to this point we’ve made little progress.