With vaccinations underway, travel to popular U.S. cities and tropical island destinations in 2021 is gaining interest, according a travel trends report from Expedia. Travel and hospitality companies must have a plan for engaging their customers now while also recognizing that the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation. Businesses need to assess the customer journey and how using data strategically can transform the user experience. Travel and hospitality companies will succeed in a post-COVID-19 world with a clear vision of how they will serve, retain and protect their customers across all aspects of hospitality from hotels, transportation and the restaurant experience. The execution of that vision relies on a responsive data strategy.
Now is the time to shift to a customer-centric approach to drive hyper-personalization and to invest in digital innovation to accelerate real-time operations. It’s also key to simplify compliance with privacy laws by managing customer consent and channel preferences at a global level while empowering engagement at a regional level across all customer touchpoints.
Let’s break this down further to explain the benefits of implementing a data strategy.
1. Deliver Connected Experiences Across Omnichannel Touchpoints
It is exceedingly important to deliver hyper-personalized and connected guest experiences, every time, whether it’s during the check-in process on site, interacting with customer service via phone or engaging with the website. With guests cautiously returning to travel, these experiences are more important than ever. Access to customer data profiles with real-time insights can help hotels quickly resolve guest issues or learn about preferences.
2. Gain 360-Degree Views of Guests
Understanding the many relationships between guests, households, corporate accounts, facilities and more is crucial in understanding the customer. Graph technology and analytics can correlate data from previous stays, guest spending, amenities used, logistics and even social sentiment, enabling real-time recommendations and personalization.
3. Establish Smart Segmentation
Armed with these data insights, organizations can segment guests based on thousands of different attributes. This segmentation can then be plugged into a customer-relationship-management or sales-automation tool. For example, which consumers stay at a hotel all the time regardless of price and which ones are more price sensitive? Companies could save a lot of marketing promotional spend by learning insights about price sensitivity, adding those insights to each customer profile and then only spend marketing promotional dollars on those specific segments.
4. Balance Engagement and Consent
Find the balance of maximizing personalization while more efficiently adhering to guests’ privacy preferences and required compliance requirements. The proper data strategy will centralize customer data for consent management, efficient auditing and effective tracking of data access to meet such regulatory requirements as the General Data Protection Regulation and California Consumer Privacy Act.
Know where a customer is in their journey and help them along the way as they return to travel in a safe new way. Travel and hospitality companies have an opportunity to reimagine the customer experience with data they already have to power the next adventure—whether it’s in Scottsdale, Ariz., or London.
Chas Kielt is senior director, industry solutions marketing at Reltio.