Jeremy Barndt, Senior Technology Services Consultant, JBA Consulting Engineers
Hotels today spend a tremendous amount of time and effort collecting guest information. From reservation to rewards’ clubs, the guests provide a tremendous amount of personal data. All of this data is stored in the cloud, and for most clients, it sits. In reality, this data is a treasure trove waiting to be mined. The guest experience can be radically changed by leveraging the analytical tools provided by big data and the cloud to provide guests the opportunity to enhance their own experience.
Everyone travels with technology that they want to connect with your hospitality network. How you leverage each connection and use is up to you. When a guest connects to your network portal, they provide you with information including device type, use and personal information. Device type can direct the portal to a launch page to provide the appropriate app for the device. If the guest downloads your app, your connection to the guest is greatly increased. If they don’t you can still monitor their web traffic to determine preferences and tailor their guest experience.
Guests want instant gratification. We live in a world of status updates and instant feedback. With a guest app, not only can you use it to control the in-room TV, audio playback and lights, but with the implement of WiFi technologies, mobiles devices and data mining, you can track trends of each guest. Does this guest stop by the coffee shop every morning? Have they left your property every night around dinner? Entice your guests to patronize your establishments by offering discounts and direct marketing. Using data analytics from the cloud, patterns can be recognized and targeted advertisements customized to your guest can be automatically pushed. At 4:30 pm send a personal message from the steakhouse inviting your guest to come. The point of sale system can even be connected so the advertisement not only sends a personal message but also provides a one button push reservation.
Apps are also very useful for directing guests. Using WiFi location you can provide customized directions and pathways. Guests can use the app for directions to resort amenities like an indoor GPS. The reverse is also true. As guests are headed in the direction of resort amenities they can be targeted for advertising. This can be as simple as 10 percent off the retail store or a free doughnut with your morning cup of coffee. Leveraging big data, you can provide guests with other guest ratings. For example, as the guest is moving around the resort and approaches a restaurant, target the guest with an advert that shows the yelp review if it’s over 4 stars. To make sure guests are not spammed, an algorithm can be implemented to complement with data mining from their activities to make sure each guest is targeted with relevant advertising.
Room control, way-finding and targeted advertising are all relatively proven technologies. Looking forward to the bleeding edge of the available technologies takes us to the incorporation of video analytics. Video adds another dimension of automation to big data’s information mine. Imagine a CCTV camera over the valet area showing your guest unloading golf clubs. This guest can now be provided with tee times to local golf courses at check-in or through their mobile device. The employee touch on the client is now personalized and more effective.
"Big data allows for mining of social media sites so that when guests make a reservation, their public information can be mined for habits, hobbies, likes and dislikes"
Guests can download the resort app before they get on site. When they arrive within the resort WiFi, their mobile device becomes their key and can notify them of their room number. Bell Hops can be notified of their arrival and provide a personalized touch. Big data allows for mining of social media sites so that when guests make a reservation, their public information can be mined for habits, hobbies, likes and dislikes. With this information, targeted advertising can start before the guest has made their schedule decisions. It can influence their purchasing decisions and increase the touch and value of the resort. Resorts can partner with surrounding businesses to increase the reach and provide a wider offering to their clientele which also attracts additional clientele.
Leveraging the data provided by guests not only when they make a reservation or travel but utilizing the public data available on the internet is key to maximizing the reach and impact the resort can have on the guest.