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Big data is one of those IT terms, much like cloud computing, that is being used at a high frequency in the technology community.  On the surface, one can surmise that big data is exactly as it is called:  the management of massive amounts of data.

For the hotel sector, big data actually goes much deeper.  With large volumes of data available, such as transactions, guest demographic and purchasing data, as well as unstructured data, such as social media messages, and guest comments, it can be overwhelming to comprehend just how to tap into this data for enhancing revenue.

In addition, the concept of big data is still relatively new to the hospitality sector, and many hoteliers are just starting to get their arms around the best ways to harness this data.

One of the challenges in this unique sector is that most hoteliers have disparate systems for collecting data, which makes tying this data together to paint a complete and real-time picture somewhat difficult.  In addition, utilizing this data to enhance the guest experience is the true goal of big data.

Along the lines of big data, a new innovation effort is happening in the hospitality sector called Predictive Guest Marketing (TM) (PGM), which takes a holistic view into determining how guests will behave.  By having these deep insights, hoteliers can  provide service offerings that truly meet guest needs.

PGM, in many ways, is big data on steroids.  It essentially looks at not only the guest persona, behaviors and experience ratings of the guest, but it also takes into consideration the same data points gathered from guests with similar personas.    For example, based on season, day of week and or time of day, new PGM systems allow hoteliers to truly understand guests’ preferred method of communication.

In addition, big data is often viewed as an analytical tool for measuring the overall success of hotel properties.  Of course, it is always important to have the right tools and metrics for measuring business goals.  However, big data – especially through PGM – can provide the right actionable intelligence for tailoring programs for meeting guests’ individual needs.

By harnessing data in this fashion, and acting upon the insights in a strategic fashion, hospitality providers will be able to see enhanced ROI and increased revenue opportunities.