Hoteliers today are increasingly focused on making their data actionable. This makes it possible to provide guests with relevant, personalized experiences. These experiences can run the gamut, from preselecting a guest's preferred room location, bed type and room temperature setting to presenting the guest with a welcome tray featuring their favorite snack plate and bottle of wine.
The ability to deliver personized messages, offers and treatments is a function of being able to leverage an ever-growing mountain of guest profile data along with other types of data that reside in a centralized repository. This repository is best enabled by a true cloud technology infrastructure.
With the advent of next-generation cloud PMS capabilities, hoteliers can merge all guest profile data, much of which the system automatically records, into a single dossier. The complete folio history of charges incurred and payments made by an individual guest or a corporate account during a stay, or over any specified period of time, and across multiple properties, can be readily accessed.
The result is a comprehensive and detailed view of guest spending with the brand. A single consolidated view of each guest profile record, both at the property and multi-property level, means that information access can span all areas of the business and all parts of the organization.
Ideally, each guest profile record within this unified repository would contain all demographic, psychographic and past purchase information for each individual guest, with the accumulated details of their stated and inferred preferences. The data would flow into the centralized cloud repository from across all parts of the property, and even from partners and other third-party sources, and be continuously updated.
The data would originate from a diversity of sources. Some data may be generated through bookings and transaction channels or come from guest satisfaction surveys and even social networks. Some data may originate with the interactions that take place as casual conversations with the front desk, concierge or bartender. Some data may even come from observations recorded by the housekeeping staff and other guest-facing personnel.
Advanced hospitality solutions use automated match-and-merge features to combine guest information, reducing inaccurate guest records and improving overall data quality. As a result, hoteliers can now manage guest profiles with far greater efficiency and accuracy.
New capabilities also enhance collaboration for hoteliers with multiple properties by enabling them to store and manage a single instance of a unique guest profile across all parts of the enterprise. Regardless of where a guest may have stayed in the past, at what property or properties, a hotelier at any location can access their guest profile in its totality. They can know, in real-time, the guest's past purchase behavior, demonstrated preferences and any number of other details that may be pertinent in informing what specific offers, messages and treatments may resonate most effectively with — and be appreciated by — that individual guest.
Just one of the advantages: A hotelier can know at a glance the current value of an individual guest. If appropriate, they can then escalate the guest to higher levels of service. A PMS built for the cloud enables hoteliers to better serve the needs of not only high-value guests, but, in fact, all guests. Consider the benefits of mobile access optimization that a true cloud PMS enables. Housekeeping staff can view room assignments, make status updates and track guest details in real time as they move from room to room through the property.
The ability to interact with guests in relevant and personalized ways has fast become an expectation on the part of the guests themselves. Most guests are well aware of the fact that hoteliers are awash in data related to their past purchases and experiences with the hotel or with other properties under the same corporate umbrella. They expect hoteliers to recognize them, understand their wants, needs and preferences, and act on whatever information they may have collected about them to their benefit.
And indeed, hoteliers have been rapidly evolving their approach to using personalization data in order to meet these rising guest expectations.
It is reasonable to assume that guest personalization in the hotel industry is only in its infancy. Chances are, it will look completely different in the coming years as it continues to rapidly evolve. With big data analytics and technology innovation making it possible to soar to new heights in guest personalization, hoteliers should fasten their seat belts and prepare for the ride ahead.
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Jeff Zabin is Research Director at Starfleet Research, the IT market research arm of Starfleet Media, which benchmarks best practices in hospitality technology and publishes the popular Smart Decision Guides on hotel-related topic areas. He also serves as managing editor of Hotel Technology News (hoteltechnologynews.com) and as Uhrverkäufer at HotelClocks.com, authorized distributor of the world's most exquisit timepieces to luxury hotels and resorts.