All hoteliers face the challenge of truly understanding their guests, and intelligent data is the key to unlocking this understanding. While most brands rely on their PMS, CRM, and marketing automation platforms, there’s one crucial category that hasn’t been getting enough attention: guest intelligence.
Guest intelligence is the in-depth analysis of various guest data sources, including (but not limited to) online reviews, survey data, social behavior, past purchase behavior, and more. With the emergence of new technology that centers around guest intelligence, hoteliers are provided with actionable, data-backed insights at every touchpoint – effectively taking the ‘guess-work’ out of the guest experience or how/where to engage with guests. As our industry continues to transform under the demand for hyper-personalization, guest intelligence needs to be part of hoteliers’ the day to day conversations, including the tech stack and marketing toolkit.
Data often exists in silos - piecing it together can be interpreted as an insurmountable challenge for hoteliers. Once you’ve compiled your guests’ information, identifying actionable insights from multichannel data can be overwhelming. However, with guest intelligence technology, hoteliers can finally create the ideal balance of data-driven business decisions, marketing optimization, and delivering memorable, share-worthy guest experiences. In this sense, guest intelligence represents the key that can unlock smarter data about your guests, and pave the way to the enhanced guest experience.
As a starting point to better understand guest intelligence, we’ve come up with a few helpful considerations. We’ve anchored it on the software’s purpose and complementary role to CRM, but we also explore other pertinent areas, such as what guest intelligence is and what it can do for your hotel.
Beyond CRM: A holistic understanding of your guests
While there is no shortage of platforms potentially critical to a hotel’s operational efficiency, the CRM has traditionally represented one of the most integral pieces of the technology ecosystem. However, it is imperative for hoteliers to expand their focus from the traditional CRM, to enhance their business insights with a guest intelligence solution.
The goal of CRM should be to provide hoteliers and their staff with the insight-driven, actionable data they need to understand who each guest is, what each guest wants out of their stay and what inspires their loyalty. Unfortunately, many hotel CRM solutions fall short when it comes to revealing actionable insights about guests. This is where guest intelligence comes in, using machine learning to take a deep dive into each guest’s patterns and behaviors. This data is then aggregated, analyzed, and compiled into prospective actions and comprehensive insights. Your CRM can then leverage the analytics from your guest intelligence platform to deliver personalized communications and marketing. This engages the guest, and it also helps your staff become more effective in the art of providing service (or “upselling”) and establishing valuable, memorable connections.
Escape the data abyss
Guest insight requires a great deal of data, which should be gathered from multiple sources and touchpoints. As we’ve mentioned before, relying on primary demographic data or guest history is no longer enough to connect to the modern traveler. If your CRM platform is ignoring integral channels (social media, interests, purchases, etc.), you are potentially overlooking a plethora of information to better support your true understanding of each guest and their particular needs.
Hotels need to know more about their guest than the details of their reservation and should be able to gain insights without having to be a data scientist. What are they hoping to experience? How do they prefer to communicate with the brands they frequent? What gestures will take their stay from good to unforgettable? Social media channels, online profiles, and travel review sites represent key indicators of guest behavior, engagement, preferences, and prospective bookings. With the support of a guest intelligence solution, data can be analyzed from multiple channels to elevate the guest’s stay while driving better online reviews, which translates into loyalty and revenue. In fact, studies indicate that given equal pricing, guests are 3.9 times more likely to choose a hotel with higher reviews, and 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations vs. only 14% who trust advertisements.
Hotels that invest in guest intelligence technology capable of assigning each guest a ‘score’ based on factors (including spending and influence), can go beyond simple guest segmentation to identify and cater to their most valuable guests to drive revenue and loyalty.
Compatibility is critical
Compatibility and integration have become essential factors in the vetting process of any hotel technology. If a current or prospective platform cannot seamlessly integrate with a hotel’s existing technology, particularly your PMS, it will not enable your property to create an insight-driven ecosystem of technology that can scale with your desired growth. Properties, regardless of size, will rely on a myriad of technologies and processes that need to work in tandem to create a genuinely seamless operational structure.
A hotel’s guest intelligence platform, PMS, native mobile app, custom booking engine, F&B reservation system, etc. should be in alignment to offer critical information and efficiencies in a way that isn’t counter-productive, but rather, enables a genuinely frictionless and personalized guest experience while continuously providing context to guest data. Creating the perfect ‘stack’ of platforms that are cooperative and built upon open APIs will play an essential role in the ultimate success of your property’s operational structure.
Look for a partner, not a vendor
Legacy CRM platforms often offer an antiquated approach to guest intelligence — they focus on their product roadmap instead of building a partnership. With the emergence of new-age technology platforms and the increasing digital influence across the hospitality industry, it has become paramount for hoteliers to invest in guest intelligence platforms that also offer a partnership with the respective provider, rather than a one-off sale.
When vetting prospective hotel technology providers, consider this: Are they aiming to close the contract and then accrue additional costs from unexpected system updates and integrations? Alternatively, is the vendor eager to establish an on-going partnership with your brand to ensure their solution grows and evolves with your business objectives? As the complexity of platforms (and guest expectations) increases, those platforms which hoteliers invest in should be user-friendly, cloud-based, flexible (customizable) and capable of scale. They should also offer seamless integration, automatic updates, and more. Ultimately, the guest intelligence software you choose should act as a powerful ally to your business.
At the end of the day, collecting and analyzing guest data in an insightful, actionable manner enables hoteliers to make smarter decisions, and unlock a piece of the guest experience puzzle that was previously beyond reach. Hotels that prioritize guest intelligence now are in a better position to stay ahead of the competition and win the loyalty of the increasingly empowered guest. Having the right technology platforms in place will inspire guest connections, loyalty, positive reviews, and, ultimately, increased revenue and strengthened hotel brand reputation.
About the Author
The capability to understand today’s hotel guest is a priority for Concilio Labs. Terri Miller and her team developed a way to leverage hotel and public data to help hoteliers provide exceptional relevant experiences to its guests. As CEO of Concilio Labs, Terri is responsible for driving the strategic and tactical growth of the company, while ensuring innovation is at the forefront when delivering solutions hoteliers truly need. Her wealth of experience in business, management, and technology guides all facets of the company’s success. Prior to Concilio Labs, Terri was the Vice President of MICROS eCommerce leading the creative, delivery, and technical departments. With a passion for delivering results, Terri continues to grow Concilio Labs with a focus on becoming the leader in developing and delivering smart hotel products and services.
About Concilio Labs
Concilio Labs is on a mission to solve key issues in hospitality today—those of guest personalization and hotel loyalty—by developing innovative technology solutions that push boundaries. Concilio’s Insight Engine, a guest intelligence platform, empowers hoteliers with actionable insights to create personalized guest experiences that go far beyond traditional and existing capabilities in other similar tools. Other core service offerings target guest experience, including a tailored mobile app and integrated booking engine solutions for hoteliers looking to take their guest engagement to the next level. The management team has decades of proven experience working with technology leaders, including MICROS, giving them credibility and a deep understanding of the hospitality industry and its growing needs. Concilio Labs is a rapidly growing brand with offices in the Washington, DC area and Ukraine. To learn more, visit conciliolabs.com.
Logos, product and company names mentioned are the property of their respective owners.