Is Your Hotel Intelligent?
Work smarter, not harder. It’s an age-old sentiment that has inspired countless professional and personal agendas over the years. With the help of modern processes and technology, we are continually finding new ways to streamline and simplify. We relentlessly implore brands, co-workers, partners, and family members to adopt updated platforms that curate a more convenient, efficient experience. In simple terms, the more sophisticated the technology, the better our user experience becomes. While this is an exciting realization, it also brings us back to the recurring question… what’s next? What tech-centric trend is positioned to take over and inspire us to do things differently?
From artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to guest intelligence and more, we are entering an era in which intelligent technology is influencing almost every consumer touchpoint across every industry. Hospitality is no exception, as the modern traveler has higher expectations for a hyper-personalized, relevant—and ultimately, seamless—experience from any size or type of hotel property they frequent.
So the new question becomes not just can you simplify, but is your hotel intelligent?
What is guest intelligence, and how can it transform your brand?
Guest intelligence is about producing insight for guests that are both smart and actionable. This intelligence tells decision-makers not just the who, what, when and where, but also the why. It’s the knowledge of why guests behave as they do that allows hotels to adapt to meet guest expectations, inspire them to spend more and keeps them coming back. Intelligence is the holistic and flexible understanding of guests that comes from gathering, contextualizing and analyzing data. Customer intelligence means going a step further to place information into context, so we learn that our 33-year-old, grad-school-educated guest has recently married, moved and started a new job.
Some hoteliers may think that a CRM is enough and believe that the implementation of a guest intelligence platform may not be necessary. After all, aren’t hotel marketing systems and CRMs enough?
The simple answer is no, it’s not.
Consider this: Within today’s economic landscape, most primary purchase motivators have changed. We purchase a car because we need to get from Point A to Point B. We buy food because we are hungry. We go to the coffee shop because we want a morning pick-me-up. The demand itself is easy to understand, but what drives the ultimate purchase decision? The car we are likely most motivated to purchase doesn’t merely provide us transportation to the office or home; it offers self-driving modes, tells us what route to take, features built-in Wi-Fi, a trunk that opens automatically and so much more.
Ultimately, the technology we prefer, the brands we prioritize becomes more than just about the primary product or service they provide, but about the entire experience. We expect more from each product, purchase, and brand interaction than we ever have before, and that perhaps couldn’t be more true in the case of hospitality.
The success of hotels and travel companies is ultimately founded upon the ability to curate a consistent, exemplary experience that appeals to each guest. We don’t book a hotel just because we need a bed in which to sleep. Sure, that need exists, but our booking decision is influenced by the entire experience offered by that hotel. Do they utilize mobile-centric technology to streamline the check-in/check-out process? Do they leverage data-driven insights to design marketing and overall engagement based on a guest’s data for a more personalized experience? Do they offer unique local experiences? Do their rooms provide the bare minimum, or do they go above and beyond with novel, upscale amenities? What are other guests saying about that hotel in the social sphere?
With this in mind, the case for technology platforms that allow for enhanced guest connection, insight-driven data, instant gratification, and streamlined operational processes becomes undeniable. Studies show that 57% of U.S. travelers want brands to use their data to personalize their travel recommendations and experiences. Also, according to the same source, 36% of these people would be willing to pay more for such a personalized experience. Not only that, Machine Learning (ML) could be responsible for cumulative investments of $58 billion by the end of 2021 and the rapid adoption of AI across global businesses will help the AI market reach about $13 trillion by 2030. Experts predict that the number of hotels and travel businesses implementing artificial intelligence and other personalization services will increase by 30% in the next year.
Establishing a Mutually Beneficial Relationship
We’ve addressed the demand for personalization and intelligent platforms on behalf of the guest, but what about hoteliers? The case for AI and machine learning/guest intelligence isn’t a one-way street – not only does this technology delight guests and inspire loyalty; it also unleashes previously unrecognized or under-utilized revenue opportunities.
Today’s innovative and smart technologies within the hospitality realm create a certain ‘wow’ factor while also enhancing operational efficiency. When previously cumbersome touchpoints are streamlined within an intelligent platform, hotel staff are empowered to focus more intently on creating the best guest experience possible. This represents a marker for repeat business and guest loyalty. It makes personalization easier. In the past, for each staff member to learn a guest’s name and understand their lifetime value to the hotel and individual preferences/interests would have been an impossible manual task. However, with the help of new-age, intelligent CRM and PMS platforms, critical guest data is stored and offered to each staff member to ensure their guest service is as effortlessly personal and genuine, as it is responsive and efficient. Intelligent technology makes hyper-personalization accessible, scalable and ultimately profitable, as hotels can benefit from increased guest buy-in with more relevant offers, up-sells, and memorable interactions.
The era of guest empowerment demands new tools to learn what guests want. In order to compete today, hotels must look beyond data, using guest intelligence to arrive at actionable business insight. When hotels invest in technology that unlocks meaningful guest insights and empowers guest relationships, they can make smarter decisions, exceed guest expectations and keep them coming back – and that is what intelligent technology is about.