In the ultra-competitive hotel industry, one way hotels can improve their guest experience to attract new and repeat guests is by using guest location data. Jai Govindani, a tech guru and hotel marketing expert, shares his perspective on how to leverage location data to improve the guest experience.
Read this article to learn:
✔ What approach to take when implementing new technology
✔ Which types of location data hotels can leverage
✔ How to improve the guest experience using location data
Ali Naqvi: How can hotel digital marketers use data to get to know their guests better and improve the guest experience?
Jai: The way I see it, a guest isn’t a data point to be farmed, but rather, someone to be treated exceptionally. You have touch points to recognize where the guests are and can trigger connections based on them. For example, if you realize that a guest frequents the gym, you could have the concierge recommend running routes or even say, “Hey! We’ve got a GPS watch preloaded with running routes. Would you like to use it?” When you actually pay attention to what a guest is doing and try to make their stay better, you make them feel less like they’re in a foreign land.
Ali Naqvi: Geofencing is a way to track where guests are in order to make connections. What are your thoughts on that?
Jai: We often talk about geofencing as getting location data of guests arriving at the airport, their whole journey throughout the city, and where they’ve been. In my opinion, that’s sort of stalker central. At least on the iPhone, if an app tries to get geofencing permission it asks for permission to always have access to location data. People don’t generally say yes to that. A typical person stays less than how many nights in a hotel a year? The level of permission that you’re asking for is disproportionate to how much you think the user is going to use a hotel app.
Ali Naqvi: Can you suggest an alternative?
Jai: The simplest source of location data is your Wifi system. It gathers data based on movement patterns. Generally, if you use an enterprise level Wifi system you’re able to tell which device is associated to which access point. You need a platform that can fetch you the data from your Wifi login system to your actual Wifi access point system.
You need a platform that can fetch you the data from your Wifi login system to your actual Wifi access point system.
You can still kind of do it in a manual way as well. Get a list of devices that have connected to the gym access point and export that out. You then connect it to your Wifi hotspot system and you get a list of users. Now you have a list of people who have been to your gym that you feed into your marketing machine.
I don’t see anyone using their Wifi system in an intelligent fashion that responds to guests in real-time yet. People say, “Well, we can’t do it in a fully automated way so let’s not do it at all.” That’s not right. Do it manually first, and if it’s justified, then talk about automating it. Find out what works first.
Ali Naqvi: What approach should hotels marketers take when implementing new technology?
Jai: My approach to technology is to always ask, “What can it do for our lives?” Too often we start trying to implement technology in terms of how to suck more money out of the guest, treat them as a data point, or reduce our spend. Isn’t there something about how we can brighten someone’s day?
We pledge to be a hospitality industry so let’s be the most hospitable people ever. The feeling of having done your best and done something awesome—it’s not only great for the guests, it’s great for you, it’s great for morale, it’s great for the company and it’s great for the world.
We pledge to be a hospitality industry so let’s be the most hospitable people ever.