When you think of the most important skills needed for the hospitality industry, soft skills such as listening, empathy, problem solving, and effective communication might easily come to mind. But there’s another skill set that’s quickly growing in value as brands look to widen the gap between competitors by delivering a better, more personalized, more convenient customer experience (CX): skills related to data and analytics.
Dimension Data’s 2019 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report shows that 88% of brands now recognize customer experience as a competitive differentiator, and in fact, 87% can prove increased customer loyalty from it, and more than two-thirds say it increases their revenue/profits.
In improving and competing on customer experience, analytics has been named the top factor to reshape the customer experience for the fourth year in a row. Yet many brands still seem to be behind when it comes to leveraging it. According to the CX Benchmarking Report:
- Only 13.5% say their current analytics capability is optimized
- Just 5% say they are able to leverage real-time data analysis across all customer channels and interactions
- Only 4% say their customer experience personalization is automated, proactive, and predictive—while 50% say their personalization remains reactive and relies on customer self-identification
So when it comes to travel and tourism, lodging and recreation, and food and beverage where customer experience expectations run incredibly high, there’s much to be gained by being a data-driven leader. Just ask Disney with their pioneering Magic Bands, which have propelled profits and the guest experience by allowing Disney to know when you checked in, where you are, what you’re doing, what you like to eat, what you’ve purchased, and what else you might want or need for a current or future visit.
We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. —Walt Disney
How is data transforming the hospitality industry in related ways?
- Optimizing Availability, Selection, and Use: With real-time views of room inventory, available airline seats, restaurant reservation statuses, and more, data-driven brands can show both availability and scarcity. They can also offer dynamic marketing, communication, and pricing to not only proactively inform and alert guests, but to increase bookings, reservations, occupancy, and asset utilization.
- Speed of Service: With access to customer and past purchase information, an omnichannel view of what actions the customer has already taken, plus their likes, dislikes, and loyalty information, data-driven brands can now shave impressive time off of booking and customer service efforts.
- Convenience of Experience: Speed and convenience are both keys to increased customer satisfaction. Data-driven hospitality brands are using IoT sensors to learn when a customer is near so their order or check-in information is ready when they arrive, showing what the customer ordered before so they can easily get what they liked again.
- Personalization of Experience: Data and analytics allow hospitality employees to immediately know about personal likes, dislikes, special events such as birthdays or anniversaries, and customer loyalty so that they can offer the little extras that mean a lot, such as favorite chocolates on a nightstand, a surprise birthday dessert, or a special thank you for being a customer for a year, five years, or ten. They’re also using data to predict what the customer might want to do or purchase in addition or next.
- Quality of Experience: Data-driven brands are also using analytics to take into consideration and react in real time to customer concerns and feedback (whether it’s in person, online, or on social media) to improve the experience of not just that guest, but all future guests. They’re also using data to adjust staffing, monitor maintenance speed, and issue proactive alerts on events that might impact customer experience, such as delays, bad weather, etc.—as well as to offer upgrades and other unexpected improvements.