This would not be problematic, if the world around us did not change. But this is not the case – it is moving faster and faster. Technology develops at almost exponential speed and along with it communication.
I do not want to talk about all the new channels, which are being used in marketing nowadays. I want to talk about e-mail marketing. E-mail is still the most important communication channel, even if some black-and-white thinkers believe that it will disappear. As a communication channel e-mail is 50 times more efficient than Facebook and Twitter combined. But when you look at the newsletters sent out by hotels from all segments, from 1 star to 5 stars, individually owned or multinational chain, you can see that not much or nothing has changed in the past 16 years except for the design.
Most hotels still follow the scattershot approach, i.e. all recipients get the same offer at the same time. This would be okay in North Korea or any other totalitarian country, in which individuality is not very popular and firmly controlled. In our western world, however, individuality and freedom of individuals are fundamental. The hospitality industry still fails to offer the necessary personalization, which Online Travel Agents (OTAs) have been providing already for many years! The lack of personalized guest communication is one of the reasons why the industry is under such pressure.
Only a few hotel companies use centralized data management, which has become standard for OTAs or online retailers. Thus, the industry is still far away from personalized automated communication. If at all, the approach is to work with target groups, missing out that each recipient is an individual and wants to be treated as such. Consequently, standardized newsletters should no longer be sent out. Each client should receive a personalized newsletter with content that is relevant and of interest.
The hospitality industry needs to open up to the topics of Big Data and centralized data management. Otherwise, they will lose the game. It will only be possible to bridge the gap to the OTAs, if the available data is collected and cleansed, i.e. the data is analyzed and used intelligently.
Not only can intelligent use of data bridge the gap to the OTAs, it also opens up a knowledge pool, which is significantly bigger and more valuable than that of the OTAs.
The available data helps to tailor the hotel's service offering to the guest's preferences and needs and also enables communication of relevant information at the right time via the right channel. Big Data does not mean anonymity and uniformity; it enables unprecedented individuality. This is what managers need to understand following the principle, "Either move with the times or be removed over time".
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Operating at the intersection of business and technology, Dr. Michael Toedt helps hoteliers with the software dailypoint™ to use the tremendous increase of data in order to become data-centric. Dr. Michael Toedt has over 25 years of experience in operations, technology and marketing. He is the author of several books – among others the German version “Big Data – Herausforderung und Chance für die Hotellerie (ISBN: 978-3-8751-5305-7) and “Data Revolution – How Big Data Will Change the Way of Doing Business” (ISBN:978-3–7375-1688-4) and his articles are published by journals on a regular basis. Dr. Toedt holds a doctoral degree in management science. He is lecturer at several universities and assistant lecturer at the University of Applied Sciences of Munich for the subject “Customer Relationship Management in Tourism”. Apart from this he speaks at various hospitality events and fairs such as ITB, HITEC, Internorga, Austrian Hotel Society ÖHV or Cornell Hotel Society.
Managing Partner, CEO