3 ways the hospitality industry can personalize the customer experience

(This article by Ben Rossi originally appeared in Information Age.)

To understand customers, businesses must capture the relevant data needed to build an enriched 360-degree view

Whilst interpreting the customer view and developing data insights is not as complex as one might think, the process does require careful analysis on where a business should collect and manage the information.

The following use cases identify how companies in the hospitality industry can use appropriate technology to build an enriched customer view that will subsequently enable them to provide a personalised customer experience.

iBeacon-enabled mobile application

By using iBeacon as a touchpoint, a hotel guest’s location within a hotel can be captured at any point in time. And with this, a guest’s activity patterns, likes and dislikes can be derived.

For example, data showing which guests regularly visit the gym during their stay can be captured. Similarly, iBeacon could be installed at a hotel’s lobby area, spa, restaurant and swimming pool area to capture a user’s activity patterns. These data points enrich the customer view and open up infinite possibilities for personalisation.

Using the location data of a guest at a given time, appropriate promotions and offers can be pushed to the guest’s mobile app. Typically, tech savvy guests and frequent business travelers use a hotel’s mobile app for online check-in and check-out. The same app can be iBeacon-enabled and used to push offers.

For example, on a Friday evening, a discount offer at the bar or a spa voucher can be sent to the guests passing through the lobby. In fact, a guest’s profile data such as their age and preferences can also be combined with the location data to further personalise offers.

And if it is discovered that a guest exercises in the gym regularly during their stay at the hotel, a discount voucher at a gym near to their house can be sent as a token of thanks for staying at the hotel, helping to generate recurring business. The same concept can be applied to a hotel spa or a restaurant.

Sensor technology with an IoT platform

Sensor technology is already mainstream and is being leveraged in ways that were unimaginable a few years ago. Combining sensor technology with an Internet of Things (IoT) platform opens up numerous possibilities for personalisation of a guest’s in-room experience.

Using a temperature sensor and a motion sensor, it’s easy to identify a guest’s in-room temperature and lighting preferences. Furthermore, sensors can be used to track in-room inventory in the kitchen and bathroom so that stock is replenished ahead of time.

Though sensors have been used in hotel rooms for some time now, it’s limited to sensing a user’s presence or absence in the room. But using IoT, sensor data can be stored and acted upon based on a guest’s preferences.

A user might have a specific temperature preference based on location, season and time of the day. An air-conditioning unit can be set to the appropriate temperature for a user based on the past recorded sensor data. Similarly lighting preference can also be tailored based on historical sensor data.

Customer interaction from an organisation’s channels (mobile, voice and web)

In today’s digital world, an organisation’s channels can provide a wealth of data about their users. In the hospitality context, strong insights can be extracted using user profiles from loyalty systems, current and historical reservation data, online clickstream activity, mobile app usage including online check-in check-out, and activity on a hotel’s social media.

Customers at the point of booking or through the loyalty system usually disclose data such as room type preference. Based on these preferences, appropriate promotions or discount offers can be sent to the customer.

Customer profile data can be combined with demographics data such as economic status and income level to create targeted promotion campaigns. Taking into account a customer’s postcode and average income of a household in their area, they can then be sent vacation offers that suit their budget.

If a user searches for a hotel online, but does not book, a quick response can be formulated in real-time. Suppose a user is doing a price comparison or looking at a hotel to plan for a holiday, by using the 360-degree view, tailored promotions and offers can be created in real-time and sent in marketing emails.

By using technologies such as iBeacon, IoT and analytics technology, a strong platform can be built to collect and analyse data, which in turn enables effective personalisation.

With this opportunity however, comes responsibility and an obligation to ensure that customers know their data is in safe hands.

Building trust is the next big challenge – if companies within the hospitality industry use the data they collect to benefit customers and the services they receive, they cannot make this publically available or else this would compromise the trust of their customer base.

Striking a balance between data analytics and privacy is key for successful progression on the road to personalisation.

Find out more: Read “Winning in the Age of Personalization,” a Mindtree survey and research report.