Data Collection and the Guest Experience


Data Collection and the Guest Experience
Collecting information on guests in an effort to enhance their experience is nothing new for hotels. However, with the technologies available today, more information is available, and a broader story of each guest is able to be told. How much information is too much? And what should you do with it?

Recently, electric car manufacturer Tesla was able to stand its ground fairly well against a disparaging review written by John Broder of the New York Times. Some of the claims he made in his review were refuted by actual data collected by the car as he drove it. Tesla had the advantage in this situation, and a pretty good defense.

From a hospitality standpoint, hotels are collecting more and more data on their guests, even before arrival. I recently read about a hotel who puts together a short “story” on each guest before they arrive – and uses it to provide a more personalized experience. For instance, a guest may walk into their room to discover their favorite flowers on the bedside table (a nice personal touch), or a framed photo of their family on the dresser (more on the creepy side.)

The Ritz-Carlton has long kept track of guests in order to better plan for future visits. Remembering a personal touch from the last stay makes a guest feel like a “regular”, makes them more comfortable, and creates a shareable moment.

Hotels are also keeping track of booking patterns, on a general level to discover where they need to tailor marketing; and on a personal level, perhaps noticing that a particular guest likes to visit each June, and sending them a discount to stay again during that time.

When hotels employ guest-facing technology on-site, they also find that data collection during the stay can make a vast difference in the guest experience. Rather than waiting weeks after a stay to discover a guest’s displeasure online, hotels can address issues during the stay. For instance, guests who would typically feel uncomfortable calling the front desk with an issue are more likely to address problems through a mobile app. Staff has instant knowledge of the problem, and can address it immediately.

Lobby screens can deliver real-time data on what guests are up to during their stay. What local attractions or events are they most interested in? This type of knowledge can allow the hotel to encorporate those facts into the guest experience as they happen, perhaps by providing discounted tickets or printing directions ahead of time.

What methods does your hotel use to track guest data, and how are you using it to enhance the guest experience?