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Guest Technology and Hotels

Going Beyond Viewing Hotel Guests as ‘Transactions’

In any business, it is all too easy to fall into the trap of viewing guests and customers as being ‘transactions.’  With revenue goals often being the dominant business strategy, these pressures can cause any major hotel property to focus only on increasing guest transactions.  When this happens, the guest is reduced to a number on a spreadsheet.

But, is something missing with systems that lack integration across properties and brands?

Thanks to a world of data that is available at any hotelier’s fingertips, there are highly effective ways of personalizing services to the point where front desk staff can wish a guest a happy birthday, correctly pronounce a guest’s last name, or make local restaurant suggestions based on real preferences.

While this level of personalization can be a challenge for large organizations – with unrelated systems across multiple touch points throughout a property – it is possible to mine this data and make it personalized and actionable for guests.

From a guest feedback perspective, Hospitality Technology recently ran a story about how hoteliers need to create measurable guest feedback programs – that expand beyond capturing online ‘rants and raves.’

As structured guest feedback program needs to be implemented to gain insights on where guests have been, where they are now, and what needs to be done to drive them to where they want to be.  A core component of this is tracking and understanding historical guest data, which can be tied to a valid goal-setting program.

A proper program requires statistics be collected on a consistent basis from a valid sample of guest experiences to determine the efficient use of its resources and a strategy on how to improve operations.  This is where hoteliers should consider extending beyond just analyzing online reviews, because it just does not provide the statistical validity needed to analyze guest experiences before, during and after a visit to a hotel.

A hotel’s ability to access its historical data and make connections to trends are imperative to operational issues and short- and long-term investment decisions.

By implementing a proper guest feedback program, a hotel will gain deeper knowledge of their next move and gain an advantage over their competition – especially to those hotels that rely only on transparent online feedback.


Using Data Analytics to Win and Keep Hospitality Guests

We are living in an era where ‘big data’ is driving key decisions and programs for multiple business sectors and even the federal government.  Thanks to new innovations for managing large volumes of data, as well as advances in algorithms and analytics, we are able to gain a complete snapshot of customers and end users.

The hospitality sector is also leading this new analytical approach for differentiating their guest offerings by mining into a deep well of data. Gary Loveman, President, Chairman and CEO of Caesars Entertainment, recently gave the keynote address at HITEC 2012 and discussed how smart customer data analytics drives the success of Caesars’ Total Rewards guest loyalty program.

Loveman said that competing on price alone for online booking engines is a losing bet for hotels. To help Caesars differentiate itself from other hospitality companies, he launched the Total Rewards program in 1998 using data collected on guest behavior to determine the potential value that a guest could be worth to the company. Although it’s important to give great service to all guests, it’s even more important to determine the potential value each guest could be worth to the company.

For example, it might not make sense to spend more on incentives for a customer who visits a casino only once, versus one who comes back again and again. The data analysis methods used in Total Rewards, though, pick up on more subtle cues to determine which customer would make the better investment.

Once Caesars decides to lure a guest, the Total Rewards program is designed to make that task easier by offering rewards that are actually useful to that particular customer.

In addition, offering benefits right away makes Total Rewards more attractive to customers because they will actually see a benefit from signing up. Total Rewards also uses its collected data to tailor offers to individual high-value customers, increasing the chance that they will sign up.

Gary Loveman clearly understands that data analytics can give a full picture on hotel guests. Thanks to his vision, the Total Rewards program has already yielded benefits to Caesars. In fact, over the 2000-2011 period, revenue per available room increased 20 percent, and the company outperformed the competition with +25 percent regional market wins per unit and +28 percent local market wins per unit.