But what exactly is big data? More importantly, what can big data do for the hotel industry?
Big data boils down to large quantities of data where you can discover patterns and trends in human behavior, something that hospitality can take advantage of when it comes to guests.
Since hospitality is a people-oriented industry, it’s important to understand the habits and behaviors of your guests to ensure that each is having a fantastic guest experience. Because while you can fulfill the wishes of your guests, what if you could predict what they wanted and deliver it without them even asking?
Yes, I’m talking about mind reading on the quantitative level.
With big data, you have the ability to gain insight into your guests, including details like what amenities are most popular during their stays or even what types of rooms they prefer to book. Big data is something you can also use to tailor your marketing campaigns or adjust rates for those popular rooms.
Pretty cool, huh?
Now while the concept is exciting for the hotels, it leaves the question of how hoteliers are can translate this technology into real life.
So what do you do?
Not to worry. I’ve done the hard work for you.
Below are three ways your hotel can make use of big data, including actionable tips with insight into how these technologies function and how they can improve your guest experience.
1. Wearable Tech
Wearables have long been taking off in the activity tracker world, with consumers flocking to technologies like Fitbit and Jawbone. Even businesses are using them as a part of their company wellness programs to motivate and sustain healthy habits among their employees.
So how do you factor into the trend?
While you may see wearables limited to fitness trackers or watches, these gadgets have the possibility to provide you with guest data, which can then help you improve your guest experience.
Luxury hotels are making use of this technology right now with wearables acting as replacements to traditional keycards to combat room theft. Plus, having a wearable on your guests’ wrists is convenient (no fishing through your wallet) and keeps cards from getting lost. It’ll be right there on their wrist, adding a level of ease. And we all like it when things come to us easy.
Wearable technologies also have the ability to track guests throughout your hotel, recording popular amenities they might be using as well as popular spots on your property. For instance, if a large portion of your guests visit the bar at a certain time, you can adjust your number of employees to accommodate the influx of guests.
Sometimes wearables are also capable of syncing with guests’ accounts, enabling your guests to pay through their wearables. Your guests will appreciate the ease that comes with this technology and can better track their spending habits, which you can then use to adjust prices for amenities.
Even with room service you can make menu changes tailored to guest preferences and arrange food orders to cut down on waste.
Just be sure that guests remember to put on their wearables, whether they be a bracelet, necklace, or even a ring. Otherwise, the technology isn’t much use.
2. Hotel Management Software
Now, I’m pretty biased when it come to hotel software. I write about it, after all.
Hotel management software can help you organize bookings or calculate room rates for maximum profits. It can also take care of your paperwork or track your finances.
Let’s go back to reservations and bookings for a second.
Did you know that you can also learn something about your guests from that information?
With your software, you can analyze guest booking preferences, such as the frequency of loyal guests revisiting your property or even the average stay duration. But that only gives you insight into one slice of guest behavior. There’s additional benefits to be had.
For example, hotel management software can also tell you popular times of year guests stay at your hotel and even preferred room types guests want to stay in.
Specifically, if you run a mountainside lodge, you may know that you have a surge in guests around winter and summertime. But through your software you could discover that guests gravitate towards top floor rooms that provide a bird’s eye view of the wilderness. And because those rooms are more popular, the view might be something to market and you could even charge a little extra for those in-demand spaces.
Because hotel management software can also track guest purchases, you can also gather big data on common amenities used by your guests. If a large portion of your guests make use of your spa, then you could promote it in your marketing campaigns, leave pamphlets and vouchers around guest rooms, or simply remind them of your amenities at check-in.
*Be sure you review your hotel software features to see if it offers overall reports and can consolidate your data into a centralized location for analysis. And don’t forget to check out free and open source hotel software solutions as well. Free options often do just as much as paid solutions.
3. Website Metrics
Many businesses wouldn’t exist without a homesite—for many hotels, it’s the largest source of guest leads. But did you know that it’s a great source of consumer data? This is where website metrics come in handy.
Website metrics can be as simple as subscribing to Google Analytics, which provide users with details like pageviews and demographic breakdowns.
Online publications, for instance, analyze website metrics to see what articles are popular among readers and even how long visitors stay on a certain page. After all, clicking means nothing if no one reads what you’re writing.
Hotels may not be publication powerhouses, but that doesn’t mean that website metrics mean nothing.
Through website metrics, you can view what pages guests visit and interact with. If you have a webpage that lists your amenities or advertises how businesses can make use of your conference rooms, you can see what your guests are looking for when they stay at your hotel and even alter your marketing around those metrics.
Let’s say guests are interested in a section of your site that talks about wedding packages at your hotel. That’s something you should highlight in your hotel marketing. Whether you use Instagram or Facebook, promote that story for additional attention on your page since your guests already seems to be interested in that use of your property.
But probably one of the most important metrics you can analyze is if your site visitors are making use of direct bookings.
Direct booking campaigns have swept the industry as a way for hotels to combat rising rates from online travel agencies (OTAs) like TripAdvisor. These fee can cost you between 15% to 30% for each booking, costing thousands in the long run. Thousands of dollars you could have kept.
Through metrics, you can measure the number of site visitors who make use of your bookings page, helping to measure if your direct bookings campaign is driving more traffic to your reservations page and, therefore, more direct bookings.
As I touched on a bit before, you can also receive a demographic breakdown of site visitors, including details like gender and age range. If you’re attracting more Millennials (people born after 1981), this information can again help you modify your marketing strategies and even future improvements to your hotel.
Millennials, for instance, are more interested in eco-friendly properties and hotel wellness programs, which could guide you towards developing green practices and or perhaps creating a gym or healthy room service options for to satisfy this large demographic.
Does your hotel use big data to improve your guest experience? Let me know how in the comments below.
Looking for Hospitality Property Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Hospitality Property Management software solutions.