Customer loyalty is based on numerous factors, which can be both difficult to quantify, and sometimes subjective. But every business strives to get the mix of factors right as loyalty generates repeat and new business through word of mouth and brand awareness. The larger the brand the harder this is to get consistent across the company and the numerous marketing and communication channels now available to consumers. We have interviewed four experts in the hospitality sector on their thoughts for how hoteliers can drive forward customer loyalty.
Customer loyalty driven by data
Andrew Sangster is the Editor of the hospitality sector magazine, Hotel Analyst, and he is all too aware of the value the data could hold for the industry, if used correctly. Sangster notes that hotels have a vast mine of information; from buying patterns, to dietary choices, to room preferences, and everything else which is recorded about a guests stay. However customer loyalty won’t be generated without effectively looking deep into the data and creating value from what hotels have.
Extracting the data from a 30 million strong loyalty programme
Simon Vincent is the European President of Hilton Worldwide, and he was interviewed about Hilton Honors, which is a programme for their 30 million most loyal customers. Vincent states that they have been “mining that data very actively”, in order to tailor the marketing messages better to these customers. This has proven to be beneficial to Hilton as it reinforces the sense of customer loyalty with those who are the strongest advocates of the brand.
Making better use of data in the hospitality sector
Peter O’Connor is a Hotel Analyst (Distribution & Technology) at the Essec Business School believes data could be “taken so much further” in the sector. Recently when checking into a hotel O’Connor experienced the way in which hotels are starting to use data, but often, as is still the case, missing opportunities. The information has been present for decades, but with technology there are many ways this can be used to tailor the guest experience, thereby increasing customer loyalty.
Customer loyalty created from data and real experiences
Sean Worker, the CEO of BridgeStreet, which provides everything from services housing to long-term hotel accommodation, does not see data as the only important element of the solution. Data is part of the solution, to generate increased customer loyalty, but Worker feels it comes down to experiences, and ultimately, people. The experience a guest has will often be the deciding factor as to whether they return and promote the brand. Data is a useful tool to aide understanding, but no substitute for the “moment of truth” with the customers.
Customer loyalty is a goldmine of unstructured data
Big Data Analytics vendor Saffron Technology quotes research from Gartner that nearly 80% of the data companies need for analytics is found outside of organisations, in a world of unstructured data – online and on social media platforms. The hotels sector is one which can benefit from this unifying this customer data. It is also one of the few sectors which already has access to vast amounts of data on its customers already. If the sector can use this big data to enhance the guest experience then customer loyalty could be strengthened for the benefit of consumers and brands.