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At the recent Marketing Outlook Forum, J. Walker Smith of the Futures Company discussed how hoteliers should not just focus on the “next big thing,” but also be on the look out for “Vanishing Points.”

According to Smith, this is when established factors of influence wane out of relevance, creating a vacuum that must be replaced by something new. The key is being able to spot these “Vanishing Points,” and anticipate what will fill these new voids.

For hoteliers, this could mean anticipating when mini-bars and in-room movie rentals will (or currently are) no longer be relevant to guests. However, there is a much bigger trend at play here that will truly help hospitality providers anticipate “Vanishing Points,” which is leveraging data from other sources.

In order to truly anticipate shifts in guest preferences – and innovation changes – hoteliers need to consider leveraging data from Acxiom and other providers to paint a true picture of what guests want. This also includes integrating data from loyalty programs and other sources to see everything from purchasing behaviors, and demographic shifts.

In addition, hospitality providers can pick a persona or a sub-set of guests and build out a business intelligence effort that will provide true insights into what guests want now and in the future. In other words, knowledge is power but the knowledge must be grounded in real data.

Otherwise, many hoteliers run the risk of not seeing these “Vanishing Points” in time to make the necessary business shifts. The end result is lost revenue.

Conversely, by being armed with this data, it is possible to stay ahead of quickly changing trends buying habits, which will give any hotelier a vast leg up against the competition.