There are lots of ways that hotels can collect information on guests and their behavior. If hotels can mine this information successfully using invisible analytics (IA), there are huge business opportunities: selling add-on services, improving facilities, new service/product development and more efficient marketing to name just a few.
Hotels can connect with their guests pre-arrival through mobile apps that can help in a variety of ways, by assisting with directions or sending notifications of seasonal packages and offers, or they can invite a past guest to visit again. Interactive room keys can provide hotels with a whole array of information about you, from how long you spend in your room and what other hotel facilities you use, to how you like your room service beef burger to be prepared.
Learning from the innovators
Some brands are already embracing IA. The key to success is to ensure hotel customers enjoy benefits such as saving time or minimizing administrative tasks, while the hotel receives information that it can use to improve business performance.
- Ritz Carlton offers personal check-in via QR codes through its mobile app technology. This eliminates errors and speeds up check-in to the benefit of both the customer and hotel.
- Cains, Hilton and Starwood let guests unlock their rooms using a smartphone app. This can be integrated with other services including the concierge and security.
IA is also used to manage the live chats many hotels and travel companies offer on their websites. These “bots” answer inquiries using information stored on customers and on consumer behavior. Customers benefit from having an assistant on hand to answer their queries, while hotels and other organizations benefit from being able to provide excellent customer service cost-effectively. Bots are able to manage simple tasks such as booking restaurants or flights, making appointments, even ordering takeaways. For the customer, the interaction they have with bots appears like a human conversation.
Technology can most definitely add to the guest experience, and improve the business of hotels and travel more generally. The key is to remember the product is that experience, and to harness technology rather than to be slave to it.