When it comes to analyzing the big amounts of Big Data that hotels and brands generate, the hospitality industry uses a variety of tools â€" which arenâ€™t necessarily well-integrated â€" to try to achieve an overall view of their customers.
The basic observation that Big Data analysis poses a challenge isnâ€™t new.
Even so, hoteliers are still working to find the best unified approach to close the gap between the ability to gather customer data and the ability to leverage that data for actionable insights.
In recent weeks, we asked hospitality industry visitors to our website to tell us what systems they use to mine guest data, and in what combinations. The results paint a picture of an industry thatâ€™s still deciding how best to approach data gathering and analysis.
We asked respondents to tell us which of these systems their hotels use to manage customer data: propertyÂ management systems, central reservation systems and systems for business intelligence / data analytics or customer relationship management (CRM) systems.*
Forty-four percent of hoteliers said they use just one type of system to manage guest data. About 16 percent said they use all four of those types of systems to collect and analyze data, while another 16 percent said they use a property management system ... and nothing else. In all, 37 percent said their companies use three, four or five systems to gather and manage customer information.
Just as it takes a long time for a moving ship at sea to change course, this snapshot of the hospitality industry tells us that hoteliers are reacting to data-driven challenges, but with very different approaches.
Sabre Hospitality recently commissioned Forrester Consulting to examineÂ customer expectationsÂ and hotelsâ€™ ability to deliver what guests demand, and the results of that report show that hoteliers are struggling to find the right way to give customers the experiences that build loyalty.
Hoteliers are learning that creating loyalty among hotel guests requires more than point systems and incremental rewards. True loyalty means creating a customer experience that leverages data to understand what each guest expects, then providing it at each step â€" from shopping, to booking, to arrival and each moment the guest is on property.
Instead of relying only on reactive loyalty programs and customer service, Big Data provides opportunities for proactive, informed customer service that builds relationships and keeps guests coming back to your brand.
And hoteliers with integrated data systems that allow them to not only gather guest information, but to track and build a better understanding of customer types, will be better prepared to capture and retain loyal guests.
To learn how to create the right strategies to leverage your customer data, download the report, Customer Experience in the Hospitality Industry: Embrace Customer Data to Elevate Experience Delivery. The report will guide you on how your brand can move toward a more guest-focused approach to customer loyalty.
Stay tuned for part 2, where we'll look at what types of customer data and systems hoteliers can apply at each stage of the guest's journey.
*Â This informal survey was conducted online via SabreHospitality.com. A total of 1,062 qualifying responses were received between Dec. 7, 2015 and Feb. 15, 2016. Because this survey used non-random sampling, no margin of error was calculated.
Hugh Fisher is aÂ Marketing Data Analyst at Sabre Hospitality.