Data strategy can make a huge difference to a hospitality business. In this TV show Séverine Obertelli of Maxxton discusses the impact of good data management.
Data strategy approaches
I mean the impact is huge, and actually, it will be seen I think more than now, in probably in a couple of years, because that would what will make the difference between, between actually an organisation will be successful or not, is who's got, you know, the ownership of the data, because just in that case you will be able to use it. I think its a make or break at this case, I mean, you have a lot of the, the say the big brands, for example, Accord is having a lot of, you know, is trying to put together all the system and and trying to er, to to to have a much more focussed approach around data. A lot of the brands are trying to do that, but really its very difficult with the, the legacy systems, with the different databases. So our approach is a bit different, but it can work, it can certainly work because we have done it for many many years, and that’s the way that we've seen that the organisation and our clients can get really the competitive edge.
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Good data and customer experience is really the key, because if you have data, you can collect it at every stage from the online booking going through when the guest leaves - that data, you can use it at every step. So you can use it during the check in, I mean you can send them texts, you can, you can know, if you know what they have actually what they like because you know what they have ordered at the bar, you know, last time, when they stayed, or you know what, you know, what what is their preferences because you actually linked to them on via social media, then you can really give them that relevance in marketing which is what makes a difference and which will make the guest remember the stay, and which will make the accommodation become more of an experience than actually just an accommodation which is what makes probably the difference and which would make them pick again and come back and becoming a loyal customer.
At Maxxton we provide the technology for, the broad hospitality sector, in particular the IP technologies so management software, to look after all the aspects of the business. It's a very very data driven technology, because it's one single database, and we have about twenty two different applications, so from a property management, going through online booking, distribution, and business so it's very very, shall I say, complete and complex.
We've delivered significant gains in the level of growth of direct website business, over ten years now, it's very much been our core area of focus and specialisation.There are many different strategies, techniques, tools, and analytics that the OTAs have in fact studied and learned from the retail industry, and in a nutshell we would bring a lot of that same clinical approach to delivering booking conversion to the direct hotel or serviced apartment website channel. The gains we can make by improving conversion, lead directly into a more competitive and aggressive digital marketing budget, so you have one thing, in addressing improved conversion that then leads to a more aggressive digital marketing strategy, that then essentially creates a budget for better web-design and far more compelling and aggressive, competitive strategy online.
I think part of the, the reasons the OTAs have been able to pull away so effectively is that the hotel industry is in general still very bedded down and quite legacy technology, and a lack of awareness as to the gains that can be made online. So in a nutshell, yes, we deliver transformative growth of direct business, in a very short space of time, and there is a real series of methodologies and approach, and formulaic approach to delivering that, the gains that can be made are significant, and we can really help deliver, the primary hotel or service department channel as the fastest growing and the biggest channel online.
Data strategy can in involve updates in mobile or wireless technology. In this TV show Paul Richard Squires discusses Hewlett Packard leading wireless development in hotels.
Data strategy for hotels
I work for Hewlett Packard in the UK but I also have a European overlay role. So I look after the wireless portfolio as the business development manager in the UK and then lead the hospitality vertical from the wireless perspective across Europe. It’s key vertical for Hewlett Packard moving forward.
The package and the excitement is we’ve come back to this vertical. We had left it, we had deserted the wireless industry, probably for 2 of 3 years, we’ve come back in a big way, major focus for us and we’re focussing on 2 of, what largely have been the really sort of sizzle end of the market, which is location awareness and big data. So the analytics; the who, what, where, when and why and we have a unique offering in the way we do the location which makes it affordable to the industry.
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Why do it? Because number one, if you don’t, somebody else will. And we’re already seeing the first hotel chain that's tied up with a retailer coming together to go in there. They’re going to bring their retail marketing ideas over. Secondly, it provides an ability to monetise the wireless. So you could put great wireless in, so you've taken away the worry about having to have great wireless and it being a complaint point, but you've done it in a way that it pays for itself by increasing the spend of your customer when they're on site with you by personalised their visit.
One campaign we're working on is supporting a new company in the States called OpenKey, and what OpenKey is doing is it's trying to create a universal app for the new mobile door key entry. So now, you know, you're going to be able to use your mobile phone to open the door. A couple of issues with that - one is that if the brands control that - and initially they do - they're creating a different proprietary app for every brand, working with the different lock companies. Firstly, for procurement, you end up having to put entry across your portfolio by ten different systems, that don't talk to each other. And if you then want to change a brand, obviously you have to redo all your door locks, so this system will negate that issue. Perhaps more importantly, it means that this company will be controlled by hotel owners and it means that any data you can gather - an anonymised data - belongs to the hotel owners. If it belongs to the brands, and they share it with the OTAs, that’s another area of the business the hotel owners will have lost control of. If we can keep it, the hotel owners themselves will be able to pull the useful data about travel patterns and, you know, what people spend when they're in the hotel and so on, 'cause in the end I think your phone will become like an oyster card or something, you'll use it to buy food in the outlets, and obviously open your door and so on. And you can track it around, so you can tell what people's travel patterns are and so on. And to have, finally, a bit of, sort of, cutting edge data, controlled by the owners, would actually be a very interesting thing, so we're supporting that initiative.
Data strategy for hotels will vary from other industries because of the way it is set up. In this TV show Brian Reeves discusses how Big Data can connect pricing and marketing.
Connected Big Data strategy
I think there are a lot of instances of data just not being connected and I think in part it is because a lot of the functions within hotels are not connected. We have a siloed function of distribution to digital marketing, to revenue management and the hospitality I guess is a little bit unique, it’s certainly different from retail in that pricing is a function of revenue management within the hotel organisation and not marketing. So marketing sales are responsible for the generation of demand but the conversion of demand lies largely around pricing. So when you have those two departments operating from a perspective in a disconnected fashion, it doesn’t help matters. So I think one of the opportunities around big data is to get those 2 things connected. So to look at everything being driven by a demand forecast, that makes sense and then making our pricing decisions, our spend decisions, whether that’s spending in terms of condition overrides on online travel agents or spend in terms of the paid search arena which is a big area for potential growth for hotels. But that will be one of the big stand out areas I think that – it’s an opportunity I guess.
The Hospitality Channel is very interested in discussions around data strategy and technology systems in hotels. Look out for the next 10 industry experts to be announced as part of Hospitality250
Technology systems have been upgraded across brands and hotels in recent years and many are still changing. In this TV show Brian Reeves of Goppar Digital explains how the transition from legacy tech is becoming less painful.
Upgrading technology systems in hotels
There are still some legacy technology pieces that are in play, particularly in the property management space but it’s improving. I think a lot of the more recent tools for reputation management, for revenue management, most of those have moved into the cloud. So, access to the data that runs behind those systems is relatively easy. So from that sense, transitioning to a demand driven organisation as a hotel is relatively straightforward. The property management system space is still, I think still needs to catch up a little bit.
So there is a movement to the cloud at the moment but there's still of the legacy tech that it can be difficult to get quality reliable data from that you can use. That's probably the only obstacle, so for the majority of hotels that I work with it’s relatively painless. So it’s a matter of just connecting thoughts – and understanding this was the business drivers, understanding the why behind, you know, going data driven and it is the optimisation of, as the name suggests, of gross operating profit, it’s – you know, how can we cut distribution costs and cut the cost of every room late that we sell.
The Hospitality Channel will continue to follow developments in hotel technology systems and will bring you more TV shows from the companies offering new products.
Digital platforms must be adjusted to suit the goals and needs of each organisation. In this video Paul West of Cardola argues that it is about quality of information over quantity of information.
Digital platforms and hotel services
There is not physical or theoretical limit. I mean, what’s the skill and the art is getting the right level of information in there rather than necessarily in volume. It’s about the services being pertinent to that given hotel and therefore pertinent to the stay. So, the type of services delivered to our resort hotel, for example, may be different from a business hotel, um, and that's why our platform is modular. You can design how – you know, the presentation of those services, the order in which they are bought, whether they are presented to a guest that's on property or in advance, you know, all these things are flexible. So, it’s about quality not quantity I think, that is the key, rather than being, having a bag of limitless amounts of information, it just becomes too confusing.
The Hospitality Channel will continue to follow discussion around digital platforms and using technology for hotel services. Look out for the next 10 industry experts to be announced as part of Hospitality250.