Big Data is a gold mine of data and if the analytics are applied correctly, it has the potential to change the course of any industry. While most industries have plunged themselves into the ocean of Big Data, industries like hospitality have so far shied away. An industry that is largely unorganized and relies purely on traditional customer feedback can transform to become an organized sector and maximize profits by applying Big Data’s analytical insights.
Social media has made it easy for customers to leave their reviews all over the internet. Not just the reviews on dedicated sites like TripAdvisor, Big Data has the potential to tap even the stray, unstructured pieces of opinions that customers might share on Facebook and Twitter. Hotels are privy to information like never before. The industry thrives on repeated visits from its customer and strives to re-create the same ambience that the customer enjoyed earlier. However, it’s a challenge to identify each time what exactly worked and what did not. And, these can differ with every customer. Big Data can help to streamline these preferences to give an exact road map for the hoteliers to work on.
It’s not uncommon to see different platter of services at different rates within the same chain of hotels. This comes from identifying the bestsellers in terms of the rooms and services offered. A room on the top floor with a great view, for example, is priced at a premium as compared to the ones on the lower floors. The SPA service in a boutique hotel might be more popular and rated highly than the recreational service offered. This gives the hotel an opportunity to maximize their revenue by adjusting the prices for each service accordingly.
Picking up the clues offered by search criteria of a traveller is crucial to the tourism industry. Holidayers fall under different brackets, each wanting a different and unique holiday and stay experience. Understanding their needs and preferences can help a hotel to target personalized campaigns to the customer in real time. Shadowing the digital prints of guests helps to identifycustomers that fall intothe bracket of say, a premium or a potential repeat customer. There’s a tremendous potential to maximize revenue and build brand loyalty by targeting the right customer with attractive packages through right channels in real-time.
A well-designed hotel with a locational advantage is prepositioned to attract higher footfalls. However, in order to sustain and capitalize the gains, it is essential to pay heed to the smaller aspects of customer service during a guest’s stay. A guest travelling with an infant might require warm milk at an odd hour at night, or some customers might need an extra bed. Hotel staff that are equipped with Big Data enabled smart devices could take care of these in real-time pushing up the customer satisfaction levels.
Hotels suffer hidden losses, for instance, from unsuccessful bookings or indiscriminate use of energy resources. The hotel industry needs to invest in the upkeep of not only its tangible assets but also the intangible ones. IT operational analytics can anticipate a spike in traffic to a website and help the organization take corrective steps in time. Analytics can glean insights from weather reports and the prevalent electricity rates and facilitate to build an optimized energy profile. This will bring down costs by a significant percentage.
While the benefits are immense, Big Data also poses a few challenges to the travel and tourism industry.
The multi-lingual challenge
The hotel industry is an all pervasive one, its roots extending to all the corners of the world. While the data gets mined from all over the world, the solutions it has to offer needs to be delivered in the language largely understood in a particular country or a remote locality.
Significant infrastructure investment
The industry suffers from a poor IT infrastructure with many remotely located hotels within the same chain, not at par with its more urban sister concerns. To change this equation, there needs to be a significant amount of investment in this direction, without which Big Data cannot succeed.
No technological makeover comes without its set of challenges, but we’ve seen that human prowess is capable of arm twisting challenges to suit personal requirements. As we can see, the pros outweigh the cons and it’s worthwhile for the hospitality industry to make inroads into the Big Data arena.