Blurring lines in hospitality
The basic underlying thread that the hospitality industry has witnessed in the last decade— from vacation rentals and private lodgings to luxury hotels and timeshares, is that the traditional lines between the various lodging categories are all starting to converge. Timeshares and hostels are borrowing concepts from five-star hotels in terms of elevating the overall guest experience. Midscale hotels are borrowing inspiration from hostels on making the most of their public spaces. Also, leading homesharing brands such as Airbnb, Tripping.com, FlipKey and HomeAway are becoming more hotel-like.
The truth is, the traditional demarcations between different types of hospitality are blurring into one, driven by guest requirement and not by the hospitality industry. Today’s guests are looking for whatever they require and are willing to spend whatever it takes for a fulfilling experience that meets their needs for that particular trip. Whether the hospitality is being provided in the form of glamping under the stars, or in a massive 1000-key resort, it’s all about selling experiences.
Learning your guest from every new byte of data
All trips aren’t created equal. Guests have varying levels of upsell and cross-sell interest based on the type of trip or mode of transportation they’re booking. In an experience-driven industry like hospitality, upselling and cross-selling is one of the easiest strategies hospitality marketers can use to drive additional revenue.
When the guest is already in the booking phase, giving them the option to enhance their experience isn’t just a matter of asking; it’s a matter of basic consumer psychology. Upselling is always a good idea especially at the booking stage as the guest is always in a good mood when they’ve just booked a trip; they are more open to add-on offers during this phase.
But a comprehensive view of each guest involves an in-depth analysis of his or her interactions and purchase patterns with brands, and their overall engagement with the travel sector.
The magic of successful service promotion begins when the relevant offers are made to the right customer at the right time, and using the right communication channel. Using aggregated data and machine learning, hotels can analyze every customer profile, transaction, preferences on ancillaries such as food & beverage, recreation, spa services, and merchandise —and tailor offers to what the guest will have the highest propensity to like.
Leading hotel brands such as Hilton, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), and Marriott are currently experimenting with a new booking interface termed attribute-based booking on their direct websites and mobile apps. Guests can choose desired attributes such as a queen-size bed with a sea-facing view and add on various attributes to the base room rate.
Hospitality brands in 2019 are looking at improved timing of offers driven by machine learning to know precisely when to send, say, a special discount for a new hotel’s lounge or pushing a guest’s check-out time in exchange for a nominal charge.
Finding the ‘Aha’ Moment
McDonalds mastered the art of the perfect upsell with a simple question: “You want fries with that?”. All it took was one relevant question at the right time that generated millions of extra dollars in revenue through the years for the company.
The actual success factor lies in understanding the guest and recognizing them across all touchpoints from dream to checkout and beyond. Upselling and cross-selling done right does not only apply to post-purchase activity—it should be an ongoing part of the overall buying process. The right data not only helps to zero in on the kind of vacation a guest is looking for but also the specific elements of the vacation a guest might be inspired by, allowing brands to gauge his or her needs.
The biggest challenge faced by hotels lies in leveraging relevant data in key business decisions and processes to help identify the best guest to target, with the best offers, at the best time.
Every ancillary sale is directly proportional to the hotels bottom line. DecisionMinesTM for Hospitality leverages aggregated data and machine learning to inform and prescribe which guest is likely a candidate for an upsell or cross-sell promotion and which offerings have a better chance of being sold. Based on key business intelligence parameters such as guest segments, guest lifetime value, historical purchase patterns, DecisionMinesTM not only helps drive incremental revenues, but also builds loyalty over time.
Intelligent personalization and data-driven strategies are no longer just ‘a good idea’ for hospitality brands. Both are essential for success. Learn more about DecisionMinesTM Prescriptive Solutions for the Hospitality Industry.