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What challenges does the hospitality industry face with data

Data has long been a mystery for hospitality professionals where the rise in usage of concepts such as data lakes and big data has hindered rather than helped. Data is often misconstrued as a synonym of Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and vice versa. Whilst in reality, hospitality is one of the most data-rich industries, data should be much more than just a CRM or a tool for sending emails; it should be the core of who we are and what we can be.  

Even before computers and hard-drives replaced part of our memory, from remembering a guest’s birthday to their last wine order, hospitality has used data to deliver incredible services. As we have more information than ever, we should be delivering better and more effective service. However, this is not the case as most hotels’ data is disorganised or in silos and making sense of it in its current state is not optimal. 

The fundamental key to an optimal data strategy is to understand that you can achieve many more goals with your data than just communicating or segmenting it. Data can be the engine that drives an entire organisation by utilising hotel data beyond the commercial teams.  

Data in an organisation can be the driver of: 

  • Reporting to make better decisions or reduce manual processes to drive efficiencies; 
  • Utilising all the data from your customer from all digital guest touchpoints from your website to the social and PPC campaigns and merging it with your EDM to optimize your campaign results; 
  • Identifying demand indicators outside your revenue system as search data in your booking engines; 
  • Defining your attribution model for advertisement through multiple mediums for PPC, Social, EDM, OTA and wholesale to calculate realistic ROI, so you know where best to spend; 
  • Understanding what your clients are saying through guest satisfaction survey results and social listening to proactively address guest issues and enhance service recovery; 
  • Collating data from multiple business units including rooms, F&B and Spa to identify opportunities and spending patterns; 
  • Recognising the patronage of your top spenders and rewarding their loyalty; and 
  • Deriving competitor’s performance to create strategies for outperformance.  

Furthermore, it is essential that we move to the age of curation as we are no longer the age of information. We need to understand that cumulating data is not enough, and that today there is no need for CRM and data to be one single entity. Rather we need to distil this data into meaningful insights and actionable outcomes. As people and experiences have amassed data footprints exponentially over the last years, it has giving rise to data-centric hospitality organisations. This does not mean that we completely remove the human touch from hospitality; it only means that hospitality teams can be more consistent and accurate in their service delivery using deep insights about the guest, creating moments of surprise and delight through anticipating their needs. As personalisation and personal touch becomes scarcer, the premium and expectations placed on these interactions need to be more meaningful, memorable and smooth enriched by data.  

Today’s advantage is that owning your database is no longer complicated; data centres in the cloud have become increasingly accessible and have not stopped growing in size and affordability. According to a 2020 report from Synergy Research Group, “Amazon growth continued to mirror overall market growth closely, so it maintained its 33% share of the worldwide [cloud] market. Second-ranked Microsoft again grew faster than the market, and its market share has increased by almost three percentage points in the last four quarters, reaching 18%.” 

All this is to the benefit hospitality and hoteliers, as data is more accessible than ever with access to information has never been as great and as large. Successful organisations that have embarked on this data-centric journey will be faster to react and will drive ROI in their hotels and their distribution channels. In the past this was reserved to only the medium and larger chains whilst today with the democratisation of data even boutique hotel groups and independent hotels can engage in the age of curation.  

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