The power of data-driven customer service in the hospitality industry
When you think about what goes into delivering great customer service in the hospitality sector, you probably think about communication and problem-solving. You probably don’t think about online data. However, the hospitality sector has embraced data and marketing analytics as a key component to delivering a more personalized and rewarding customer experience – ideas that all brands can take to heart.
Brands increasingly have focused on using data to develop 360-degree views of their individual customers. In fact, our report, The Omnichannel Imperative, found Southeast Asia’s leaders in the omnichannel marketing space now focus on a 360-degree customer view – the aspirational goal of completely understanding customers and their journeys to purchase – more than ever before.
But gaining a complete view of the customer is easier said than done, and attaining a 360-degree customer view can require a mountain of customer data from both your own business and third parties.
The hospitality industry is currently making great strides in leveraging audience data to inform and improve the service guests receive. From using historical data to predict what time a guest may request a wake-up call to employing sophisticated geolocation data for seamless offers and experiences, the ways in which hospitality brands leverage data-driven insights provide lessons applicable to all industries.
Using Data to Anticipate Customer Needs
Excellent service is the name of the hospitality game, and with assistance from data, many hotels now provide services that are both personalized and anticipatory.
By leaning on insights about customers’ habits – such as what time they eat breakfast, the type of services they typically book, or if they travel with a partner – hotels can send push notifications, emails, or text messages with offers to pre-book meals, discounts for massages, or buy-one-get-one cocktails. Beyond such basics, hotels can also leverage data about weather patterns, traffic updates, and flights to alert a guest about a delayed flight, or to recommend an earlier than expected departure for the airport.
While this sort of data sophistication hasn’t gone mainstream (yet), most hospitality brands have focused on customer touch points – such as check-in and check-out, and making room access and ordering room service frictionless – to streamline their customers’ journeys, according to a report by McKinsey. These types of thoughtful recommendations not only delight customers but make them feel valued.
Providing Seamless Service with Data
Hotel brands ahead of the curve use artificial intelligence (AI) to exceed guest expectations in all sorts of innovative ways. For example, Henn-na Hotel in Tokyo introduced robots to deliver a host of services – from the dinosaurs (yes, really) that check-in guests to digital assistants that allow guests to control in-room features.
Marriott International is testing facial recognition software that reduces check-in time to under one minute, and, like Henn-na Hotel, is installing digital assistants in hotel rooms for guests to use. Such helpful technology allows the brands to collect customer preference data to deliver even more personalized experiences in the future.
Another example comes from Disney World, which has excelled in leveraging technology, customer data, and insights to provide an unmatched level of service.
Disney mails MagicBands, which function as airport shuttle tickets, hotel room keys, theme park tickets, and an in-property payment method, to customers ahead of their trips. By integrating the bands with the MyMagicPlus app, Disney receives real-time information about each guest. Bluetooth sensors placed throughout the sprawling Orlando property also allow Disney to track guests as they move through the park.
Beyond this, Disney draws customer data from the booking process to create personalized itineraries for guests. For example, when a guest who has made a restaurant reservation and pre-ordered a meal comes within a certain distance of the eatery, the staff is notified so the table and food are ready when the guest steps inside. Or, if a guest is heading towards a particularly busy part of the park, Disney can send them an app alert with an incentive to visit a less congested area of the park instead.
Some might argue this level of communication verges on over-personalization, but it works well for a hospitality brand that promises a magical experience.
By analyzing how hyper-competitive hospitality brands leverage actionable customer insights, other industries may be inspired to use their own data and insights to deliver deeply personalized experiences that delight their customers, and build lasting loyalty.