Big Data is collected every day through search and booking engines, social media and mobile and internet browsing, and it reveals all kinds of information that can bring value to hotels. Knowing how to harness this data can unlock vital insights for any hospitality professional.
- According to Google, the most popular day for travel bookings is Monday, and the least popular is Saturday.
- Of the 148 million online travel bookings in 2018, 82% occurred without any human interaction, via a mobile app or website.
- Last-minute hotel bookings and travel related searches, including ‘tonight’ and ‘today’, have grown by more than 519% in the past five years.
Data, such as this, can help hotels understand customers, price rooms correctly, target advertising, find new sources of revenue and predict trends, but only when it’s analysed and used effectively.
Across the industry, hotels have now begun to integrate data analysis into a variety of different areas of business from revenue management to bookings platforms, with some impressive results.
Here are four important ways that Big Data is being used in hotels today.
Revenue management traditionally relies heavily on in-house historical booking records to anticipate seasonal demand and make the right choices across three key areas:
- Selling your room at the right price,
- Selling your room at the right time, and
- Selling your room to the right customer.
The entry of Big Data into hotels and booking platforms offers huge advances for revenue management. Data analytics based revenue management software programs, such as Atomize and Ideas, have been successfully adopted by Best Western, Hilton, Radisson and Fairmont Hotels, among others.
Big Data allows a hotel to constantly and reliably track all relevant consumer and seasonal booking data needed for accurate forecasting and price elasticity. Hotels can analyse in real-time data points, such as:
- How many customers are searching for your destination
- The country of origin and
- Spending power
This information allows for up-to-the minute flexibility. Instead of relying on educated guesses based on past data, revenue managers can set pricing based on data now.
Consumer feedback is all over the internet, and this data presents a wealth of opportunity for hotels in terms of competition analysis. Social media, review sites, forums and travel publications are all rich with information that can offer a brand important insight into competitors, and consumer responses to their products or services.
For example, hotels use chatter monitoring analytics software to identify in real time what consumers are saying about competitors, as well as their own brand. By doing so, a hotel brand can identify strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. They will know quickly when competitors release popular new packages or products, and can respond with similar offerings.
One of the most valuable applications of Big Data for hotels is in targeted marketing, based on a consumer's preferences and behaviour online. Big data allows digital marketing to go beyond ensuring the right product is advertised to the right person; hotels can gain a detailed understanding of the customer's path to booking and other vital metrics, such as booking abandonment, timing and brand loyalty.
This allows marketers to develop more specific segments that can be targeted with unique promotions or product offerings at exactly the right moment in their booking journey:
- Data analysis can identify key characteristics of a guest, such as age, consumer preferences, location, budget, and whether they travel for business or leisure.
- Analytics software programs, such as Oaky, use this data to upsell personalised offerings to guests.
- Top-funnel searching patterns can be tracked, mapping how a customer landed on booking sites, what reviews they read, whether they used social media for their research, and how they use it. This informs social media and mobile marketing.
- Data analysis can tell when a guest may have abandoned a booking purchase and where.
- Data can inform which push notifications to offer promotions in-app or via mobile.
Put simply, Big Data allows hotel marketers to ensure that offers reach the right person, in the right location, and at the right time.
Improved Products and Guest Experiences
In an Airbnb world, hotels must offer variety, flexibility and personalisation. According to research, over 70% of hotel guests report having a more positive experience at hotels that use personalisation techniques.
Big Data plays a crucial role in improving guest experience through personalisation. By collecting data on consumer preferences, booking history, feedback, and monitoring brand chatter online, hotels can keep informed about guest demands, improve their products and services, and build personalised customer profiles over time. These profiles allow a hotel to anticipate a customer's needs.
For example, InterContinental Hotels Group has been using Big Data collected via bookings, their own website and app to offer personalised packages and deals to guests for over five years. Marriott is also known as a leader in this field, using a seamlessly integrated app and customer recognition platform that ensures all of their global staff can see every customer request, profile and preference at any time. This data-driven continuous interaction between the customer and brand has generated loyalty and improved service.
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