Kevin May hosted a panel of industry leaders to discuss what personalization for hotels and hospitality is in the current Digital Media. The panel included Charlie Osmond of Triptease, Nancy Rademaker of Nexxworks, Antonio Figueiredo of Salesforce and Gary Mayger of PROS. This blog summaries salient points and the insights of the discussion.
What is Personalization for Hotel Guests?
Kevin – Personalization is a powerful tool where a company knows what you want to buy before you even thought about it. What do you think it is?
Charlie – Hoteliers do personalization very well, every day, all the time, in a face-to-face way.
Example: On arriving at this hotel, a concierge noted I had no suitcase and was looking around. He asked: “are you attending an event?” – Perfect personalization.
Much of the time, we may try to sell a room when they want to know where to go for a pint. Different people have different needs and you should treat them in different ways.
Tony – People are trying to get more and more connected. You need to be in front of them for every step of the journey: Pre-stay, The Trip, The Stay, Post-Stay.
If you only connect when they are in the hotel, it’s too late.
It’s about the mindset of the experience – from the inspiration to completion of the journey and return.
Garry – It’s about interpretation of needs based on behavior. Then ensure friction-less delivery of recommendations instantly. The most important piece is that it has to be friction-less.
Nancy – Unlearning old patterns is where we fall short. Unlearning is about being open to new experiences and getting in touch with the people who are experiencing with you.
Understand what the Chinese want. It’s a massive new customer group that we know little about. We need to get out there and experiment.
Charlie – Go to your coffee shop and ask people to book your hotel. You will be amazed. We send our designers out to interview and interact with people who may use our product.
When is Personalization Most Effective?
Kevin – What phase of the buying cycle does personalization work best in?
Garry – People don’t wait anymore. Get the offer right at every phase.
Tony – Ask, “have you stayed with us before?”, when they first inquire. We miss that too often and it’s very powerful if you know they have and can gain access to their information. Repeat clients are high-value and the highest value customers get different treatment.
Charlie – Lifetime value of your client is the key, not just what the value is on this occasion! It’s at the beginning that it really counts. Get the offer right at every stage, starting with the first step.
Tony – Sell at ever stage. Sell Earlier – Sell Relevantly – Sell Direct – Sell More.
Who is Most likely to Succeed and Benefit From it?
Kevin – Are OTAs in a better chance of winning in personaliztion because they have so much data?
Nancy – The Chinese because they have one integrated centralized system. In China, precision marketing is at the next level as it’s all on the same platform.
Charlie – OTAs have a good chance of winning / profiting as they have the data. But Google could really nail it. They use info in your emails to personalize your recommendations.
Garry – Content must be bookable and the offer must be trusted. What I see is what I get. You must get it right the first time and every time.
We are missing this a lot in the very segmented data and get it wrong too many times.
Is Creepiness an Issue?
I.e., is their too much access to personal information and prying?
Garry – I don’t worry about it. I think it’s a very low risk. People’s imagination is far greater that the reality.
Nancy – My daughters, who are in their early 20’s, don’t care what you do so long as it helps them.
Tony – The sharing economy around data is going to get more and more evolved. Just watch how it’s going to be nudged up. Creepy is not an issue if it helps and adds value.
Garry – For my Dad, everything is creepy but my 19-year-old son will just go for it.
Millennial’s don’t care and they are the future!
More To Watch and Hear
The discussion went far deeper than this summary. I just pulled out bits that resonate with me. It goes on to discuss Amazon, which everyone says is going to be a challenge. But no one knows quite how and when. Remember: they tried before and gave up, so next time, they must get it right… maybe with an acquisition. See the Webinar here
For more on Personalization and Artificial Intelligence and Behavior Responsive systems see: