Can the human touch improve CX at hotels?

While it's true that big data is transforming many industries, perhaps what's needed most is the human touch.
13 September 2018

How are hotels using big data and analytics to transform the guest experience? Source: Shutterstock

Big data and analytics are helping businesses everywhere improve customer service and enhance their marketing abilities.

The hotel industry, in particular, is starting to uncover the powerful benefits of big data. Many companies are now analyzing data from online reviews and social media to uncover any problem areas and opportunities to improve.

The analysis of this data can provide hotels with information on things such as what guests like most about their stay, what may need improvement in the building, customers’ opinion on the service they receive, and more.

But while this data can point hotels towards where there is a problem, it cannot provide answers to why this problem exists, or how to fix it. For this, human intervention is very much required.

The importance of human interaction

In order to unlock the true benefits of big data, the help of human insight is necessary. This is exactly what Ana Brant, director of global guest experience and innovation for the London-based Dorchester Collection of hotels found.

After using a data analytics tool to look at customer sentiment in its Parisian luxury hotels, it was found that guests had little loyalty to its hotels or to its competitors’ hotels.

While the tool uncovered this lack of customer loyalty, it was in the human hands of hotel professionals to figure out why, and how to address this problem.

The need for human observation and investigation

Human insights are needed to make sence of data. Source: Shutterstock

From this, the hotel chain began to study the market and found that Paris has ten Forbes five-star hotels all with Michelin-starred restaurants and providing excellent services. Furthermore, it was discovered that the rooms were roughly the same sizes and priced at similar room rates.

It is no wonder then that consumers see these hotels as interchangeable. From this, Dorchester Collection realized that they needed to do something to differentiate the company from the rest.

The hotel staff then conducted further observations of things such as the clothing their guests wore and the shops they visited in order to get a feel for the typical demographic.

In one of its Parisian hotels, they discovered that guests were either participants in or close observers of the high-fashion world. From this, the hotel transformed its marketing angle to become more fashion-focused, introducing the “Dior spa”, and during Fashion Week, presented a Dior-themed service at the restaurant.

In its other Parisian hotel, they discovered that guests were more “artist-oriented” with many of the guests their visiting galleries and museums.

To facilitate this, the hotel decided to re-brand the hotel as the contemporary arts hotel, replacing many of its traditional paintings with modern art, sponsoring an award for promising artists, among other things.

“It is still early days, but Dorchester Collection has observed year-on-year growth in loyalty at both hotels. An unanticipated benefit is that they have received excellent local press and social media coverage, driving more local business to the hotels. It is always good when locals (especially Parisians) support you and advocate for your brand,” explained Brant in a post on Harvard Business Review.

So while the data analytics tool showed the hotel that something needed to be done about loyalty, it required human intervention to determine exactly what was required to fix the problem and improve the service delivered to guests.