By Victoria Peterson, HiRUM Software solutions. When it comes to hotel or accommodation management, after revenue, the most important thing is data.
In this current day and age that might not be surprising, but are you using your data to maximise occupancy, increase revenue and improve your guest experience?
First things first, who actually owns your guest data? You or a third party?
Guest bookings can drop into our hotel or accommodation business in a multitude of ways from direct, OTA, GDS, metasearch, wholesale and more. While having a third-party strategy is healthy and necessary to compliment your direct booking strategy, is your reliance too heavy on third parties and are you missing out on invaluable data that they’re collecting from your guests?
After you determine what data you own, next you need to grow your data capture as this will give you a bigger “data pool” to work with.
Third-party conversion strategy (data growing)
As we mentioned earlier, you’ll most likely have a split of direct and third-party bookings. Your third-party bookings don’t allow you to own the guest data, even though they are your guest, at your property. Their data is the booking channels data. So how can you obtain that data?
There are a few ways to convert third-party data to direct data, one option is at the time of check-in. When the guest fills out the registration form, ask them whether they would like to join your mailing list by using a check box on the form. If they have opted-in for the mailing list, you can then add them to your database.
Another way is to implement a third-party conversion strategy to make sure your guests see how appealing it is to book direct with you next time.
This could be a direct-booking best-price promise, through a value-add, or anything that convinces the guest that booking direct with you is more appealing than a third-party. As this will then result in you owning their data. Get creative, have fun and remember beating a third-party price by 10 percent isn’t discounting your rate, it’s saving on paying commissions.
We have established five easy and achievable ways to use your data to grow your bottom line and improve your guest experience.
Now that you have that data here are five ways to utilise it
Studies have shown that loyal guests stay longer and pay more. So, ensure you’re turning every guest into a loyal guest and make their stay memorable – for all the right reasons. As important as data is, the guest experience is what will retain the guests. Here are 5 ways you can utilise that data to retain guests.
- Remarketing: During quiet periods you can use your past-guest data and send them an enticing offer to stay again. As it’s to a Closed User Group (CUG) your offer can be as sharp as you want it to be, as it’s not advertised publicly on distribution channels.
- Guest experience: Use your data to find out personalised information about your guests to improve their experience with you. Are they a red wine drinker? Include a voucher for a glass of red for them on check-in. Noticed that they always book an entry-level mountain view room? Upgrade them to the next room type FOC as a value add. Do they like to eat out, dine in or use the spa facilities? Create specialised offers to appeal to them specifically, and in turn encourage them to book direct. Keep in mind guest experience begins from the moment they book with you, and you begin communicating with them.
- Geotargeting: Geo what? You can use your data to see the location your guests are coming from and then maximise your marketing spend. Are most of your guests coming to you from a drive-market (within 1-3 hours’ drive) perspective? Then stop wasting money on interstate or international advertising, and instead focus on building your base business by increasing your spend in this area.
- Maximise revenue with trends: Does your historical data show trends that you can use to forecast and maximise occupancy and revenue? For example, what is your average booking window? Use this information to strategically plan campaigns or offers to your CUG. Is your average length of stay (ALOS) short stay or long stay (over a week)? What can you do to extend short stay bookings? Look at historical data when a large event is coming to town and use it to help you set the right rate to maximise on occupancy and revenue. Was it a sell-out event last year? Did you fill early on due to demand? Then you can probably afford to lift your rates again this year.
- Guest sentiment: Data doesn’t have to be all numbers and stats. Online reviews can be a love/hate relationship with accommodation providers. However, outside of responding to the reviews, the best way to tackle them is to use the reviews to your advantage. Use the positive ones to understand why guests come to you (view/service/location etc) and maximise on this. Share these great reviews on your social channels. Even the negative ones are valuable, use this information and understand your guest sentiment – if the slow WIFI repeatedly gets mentioned, it’s time to look at your WIFI to improve guest experience. Cleanliness or service letting you down? Collate the information and use the data to improve your property and service.
To guarantee you are getting the most out of your data, it is important that you are using the right software for you.
Ensuring that all your software is integrated seamlessly will give you cleaner and more qualified data to work with.
Data can be overwhelming and daunting, but it is invaluable to your business as it allows you to deliver strategic and smart marketing. Take onboard what the data is showing and use it to your benefit, to always be one step ahead of your competitors.