Big data is changing the future of the hospitality sector in immeasurable ways. Although many facets of this industry are impacted by new advances in data technology, customer service is arguably the most important.
Any business that relies on customer service must learn to adapt to developing customer needs if they’re going to stay relevant. This is particularly true in the hospitality field, where providing top-tier customer service is critical to staying in business. Hospitality Technology reports that big data is one of the biggest gamechangers in this field. Since the hotel sector is worth $600.49 billion, the demand for big data in this market is huge.
While some customer service basics stay the same, others require embracing new technologies and ideas to keep that level of quality. This is one of the ways that companies like Intercontinental Hotel Group have invested in big data for years.
Here are some big data technologies that can help hotel owners improve their customer experience and drive more business.
Near-Field Technology, or NFC, allows for the wireless transmission of data between devices, most notably smartphones. It’s poised to become a major feature in the hospitality business by 2025 and one of the most important benefits of using big data.
NFC benefits both customers and hotel owners for several reasons, including:
- Security. through data encryption and mutual authentication — the same level of security used in financial transactions — NFC protects customer data and reduces the risk of security breach.
- Multi-application support. NFC technology can support multiple applications, meaning a single device can be used to open doors, earn loyalty points, make payments, access services, rent items like bikes or cars, and more. This centralized approach makes it easier for customers to get what they want with a minimum of fuss.
With near-field technology, hotels can replace plastic magnetic-strip room keys with digital codes, making it easier for customers to automatically check in, while increasing security by making it much more difficult to steal or forge a room key.
NFC can also make payments much easier by letting guests pay for food, services, or other items directly from their phones — reducing long lines and wait times, and improving customer satisfaction.
Customer relations management (or CRM) software can make a huge difference in how your hotel handles customer service.
Why is CRM software so important? There are actually a number of benefits of using a CRM. However, you will only realize these benefits if you invest in the right CRM tools.
A good CRM helps you collect data on your customers and their transactions so you know how an where they’re spending their money at your establishment. This lets you more easily cater to the needs of your guests while keeping that data in one place where it’s easily retrieved.
But using a CRM isn’t solely for your benefit — you can also use the data you gather to personalize your guests’ experience in future stays, making them feel at home and encouraging them to visit you again.
Virtual Concierge Software
Virtual concierge software can bring a new level of experience to your customers. Installed as an app on their mobile device, a virtual concierge can offer suggestions on activities, restaurants, and services your guests may not otherwise have known about.
This technology not only gives you a chance to show off the amenities of your hotel even before guests arrive, but also offers “inside information” on your property that will help customers with maps, directions, the layout of your hotel, special events, and more — all without the need for more personnel.
Guest Room Automation
Guest room automation can bring multiple benefits to both hotel guests and hotel owners alike. A few applications of guest room automation through advanced machine learning include:
- Allowing guests to turn lights off and on, establish lighting “scenes” to match their mood while in the hotel room, and / or welcome them with a warm and inviting lighting scheme automatically when they enter the room.
- Reduce energy costs and help the environment by turning down or deactivating systems automatically when guests aren’t present.
- Automatically adjust the environment for maximum comfort and efficiency by managing environmental systems, such as turning off the HVAC automatically if a guests opens a balcony door or room window.
- Replace outmoded signs for “Do Not Disturb” or “Make My Room” requests with more attractive and elegant digital corridor display panels.
This is one of the most important benefits of using big data and machine learning in the hotel sector.
No one relishes heading down to the front desk to request information, lodge a complaint, report a problem, or ask for an extra pillow. Some customers don’t even enjoy getting on the phone to interact with hotel staff. An instant messaging app or live chat lets customers request services or get help with problems easily and comfortably.
You can also cultivate a more personal touch with prospective guests before they arrive by adding a chat service or instant messaging to your website or internet presence.
Instant messaging is useful in reducing the barrier for customers when it comes to booking or making upsells. It’s less time-consuming and more relaxed than being on the phone (no waiting on hold!) and makes it easier to build and maintain an ongoing relationship with the customers, since instant messages don’t require immediate attention and can wait until the customer is ready for another interaction.
Big Data and Machine Learning Transform Hotel Sector
Of course, nothing can replace the human element of customer service — some basics never change. But these new big data developments are changing the shape of how we interact, and hotel owners stand to benefit from changing with the times.