Hotels & Big-Data by Sharad Kapur

Hotels & Big-Data by Sharad Kapur

It is becoming increasingly evident that data and related analytics will continue to play a huge role in every aspect of business. 

It is estimated that by the year 2025 the data consumption will reach an enormous 180 Zeta Bytes from an average of 64ZB in 2020. The growth driven by the internet stems from an increase in search and in access to the internet.

The hospitality industry actively interacts, engages with customers at multiple levels. These guest interactions present an opportunity for businesses to utilise data intelligence in every aspect of commercial decision making.  All customer touch points lead to the creation and consumption of data, which gets processed across multiple formats.  It has led to 'Big Data' for hotels. The diversity in the hotel industry results in poor adoption and processing of data across the spectrum. Hotel chains may structure themselves around enterprise reporting, but smaller hotel groups and independent hotels are often not structured to access and use data intelligence. Data and intelligence providers can act as the conduit to help hoteliers make effective decisions about their businesses.

Hotels and Big Data?

With the explosion of social spaces and searches on the internet growing exponentially in the last decade, there is an incredible amount of valuable information available to help build a competitive advantage. This explosion is largely due to connected and shared devices, and the increased access to the internet and digital environment. 

Big Data is all about the aggregation of this buzz (structured and unstructured data) in the digitally connected environment, that ends up providing trends, patterns, qualification of events and periods, sources of business and much more. Big Data occurs as a result of data assimilation from search, messaging, media files, social networks, smart systems, and connectivity. 

The hospitality industry does not suffer from a lack of data. On the contrary, it has multiple sources due to the touch points with which guests interact. A powerful BI system can capture data from various sources including, point-of-sales, reservations, sales and catering, revenue management. Customers who have experienced these products and services offered by a hotel contribute to this intelligence.  

Data helps hoteliers understand a lot about guest preferences and their needs. It also assists businesses to design products and services and marketing them accordingly. The demand and trends emerging from guest stay help the hotels to revenue manage their business astutely.  


So, where does Big Data fit?

Today, the customer journey is quite complex - consumers search extensively before arriving at a decision. Nearly 60% of searches on Google are upper funnel queries, where consumers are considering various options to narrow down to a specific choice. Upper funnel searches are often where the guests' dreams, desires and creates wishes before arriving at a decision. Guest choices reflect reputation, guest feedback, future demand, pricing, benchmarking amongst other criteria. Hotels have a unique opportunity to go beyond their usual internal customer analysis and study upper funnel search data.  

It is in hoteliers' commercial interests to understand where and how customers are searching for them to adjust their go-to-market strategies and create a win-win for their business.


Top of funnel search 

Top of funnel data is extracted from various sources such as the internet clickstream data, weblogs, cloud and mobile applications, content from social media, and smart systems. Hoteliers must seek relevant data from sources that can help them make better decisions. Top of funnel insight can include: 

  • Which destinations are searched actively?
  • Accommodations searched? Hotels or Alternate accommodations?
  • How long do guests intend to stay?
  • What products are being searched? 
  • Which medium is used to do most searches?
  • How do they search for reviews and reputation?
  • What kind of experiences are sought?
  • Searches across incomparable products?

The list goes on and on. Revenue strategists must analyse top-funnel search data, understand it and develop relevant pricing, product, and go-to-market strategies in collaboration with their marketing colleagues. 


Big Data benefits

Eventually, every hotel business must be invested in increasing its footprint amongst a vast database of customers. Better analytics behind search data in the form of intelligent reports can help hotels further their agenda of higher occupancy, stronger revenue performance and better profitability as campaigns are unfurled at the behest of powerful big data analytics.  

Better analytics empowers heads of revenue to adapt strategies in real-time to become more agile and astute in their decision-making process, including the capability to:

  • Adjust marketing campaigns and go for targeted Ads
  • Become highly targeted in the hotel's product and service offerings. 
  • Acquire new customers and continue to cater to its loyal guests
  • Re-evaluate service offerings to fulfil customer needs and heighten personalisation
  • Discover new revenue opportunities in Big Data space
  • Price and channel optimisation, and managing inventory types optimally
  • Reduce risk by pre-empting future data trends
  • Achieve better operational efficiency and stronger competitive advantage

Experience economy

Customer satisfaction driven by experiences has been a key metric of success for the hospitality industry. In recent times, the experience economy has been at the forefront of all business types and is now a vital factor for the success of brands. Hotel brands that are able to understand the drive behind their customers in choosing a product and service will have the basis to cater to their expectations of experiences. Whether digitally or physically, hotels can use big data to their advantage in understanding the choices made by customers. The future data provides the potential to predict and prescribe products and services that will be key in creating the right experiences.

However, hotel companies choose to navigate forward, it is clear that Big Data and analytical insights - paired with prescriptive trends - are the key elements required to move the hotel business forward.

The past 20 months of the pandemic have exemplified the effectiveness of the analytics emerging from big data, and why hotels need to invest in products that provide them with these critical insights.

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