CRM, AI help hotels win customer acquisition, retention game

Hotel technology as a term becomes broader every year, but I think it’s safe to say 2018 was the year of BYOD (bring your own device). Looking at the rise of mobile check-in, smartphone-enabled access technology and personal device screen mirroring, 2018 brought guests a true choose-your-own-adventure hotel stay. There’s hardly a guest in our hotels and resorts today that isn’t travelling with a smart device — and the industry is beginning to rise to the occasion with integrated technologies that give the consumer what they want.

2019 is the year of data mining. With more technology and products coming online and guests continuing to expect personalized offers that make sense for their experience, I think you’ll continue to see an emphasis on big data. Across hospitality, we’re seeing a continued focus on leisure and “bleisure” spend—a key change in the focus of hoteliers should be toward not what the hotel wants to offer but what the guest wants.

Given the amount of data that can be collected not only from a customer-relationship-management system but supplemented through social media, casino-management systems and more, the challenge for the hotelier is first how to collect and array this data, and more importantly, how to analyze and effectively utilize it. 

Using data appropriately offers the opportunity to redesign the guest experience, from roomservice to check-out, without the intrusion that old-school data teams know and fear. With technology now minimizing face-to-face interactions, data is king. Gone are the days of conference room market research groups; most of us have the data already, the key is using it appropriately and making it work for your bottom line.

While the future of CRM is here, the future dictates that powerful and automated data analytics has become paramount. Going forward, CRM not supplemented by artificial intelligence and machine learning will frustrate teams building analytics if for no other reason than the amount of data available grows almost exponentially. Those having the technology to support better decisions and the personalized experiences guests crave will ultimately win the customer acquisition and retention game.

Regardless of size, both international brands and boutique properties can benefit from having a strong handle on data and the AI to interpret it. From marketing to check-in to in-room amenities — the right data can impact every touchpoint of the guest experience.

As we head into the depths of 2019, you’ll continue to see the importance of AI and CRM, discovering how the right information can impact each link in the hospitality chain. The big questions is, are you ready for 2019?