Personalisation is everywhere. We experience it every day, even if we don’t notice it. From personalised ÔMy Mix’ playlists on YouTube and Spotify to recommended upsells on Amazon and eBay. Our online experiences have become tailored to our individual interests and buying habits, so much so that we’ve come to expect it. And as hospitality is an industry that prides itself on excellent personal service, it should come as no surprise that digital personalisation is one advantage hoteliers and other accommodation providers cannot afford to avoid. Indeed many big players in the hospitality industry are upping their game in digital personalisation and are starting to apply machine learning to engage customers more effectively.
Take the Marriott International, for example, who have applied excellent personalisation strategies to delight their guests and keep them loyal. The Marriott does this mostly through their app, which they have updated with personalisation and geo-location technology to deliver a tailored experience for each guest from booking to post check-out. Guests can check-in and unlock their room with the app and the Marriott can use the guest data gathered through the app to offer relevant actions (such as booking a service, class or activity, dining at the hotel restaurant or leaving a review).
Similarly, Booking.com is launching a bot which uses AI to show recommendations to shoppers for things to do during their stay, tailored to each user’s interests, location and travel times.
Meanwhile, Disneyland has recently launched their Ômagic band’. These wristbands, which contain an RFID chip and a radio transmitter, are sent to guests and can be used for everything, from entering the park and unlocking the hotel room door to paying for food and merchandise via a link to the user’s credit card. These bands track the user continuously, gathering information about where each guest is and what they’re doing, enabling Disney to give a seamless and personalised guest experience from check-in to post stay. Staff around the park can address every guest by name and restaurant staff can match the order to the guest with no table number needed. Post-stay, Disney can use the gathered guest data to send personalised upsells for a return in the near future.
Digital personalisation is not just trending among large hotel groups and brands. Ninety per cent of hoteliers say their guests will expect stays to be personalised by 2020 (Grant Thornton). The truth is, more and more interactions, which were once made face to face or over the phone are now managed online and customers have come to expect the same level – if not a higher level – of personalisation online as they would when talking to a concierge at the front desk.
The Killarney Park Hotel, a family-owned five-star hotel in Ireland, has been working with software and technology providers, Avvio, to implement a cutting-edge personalisation toolkit, which delivers a unique browsing and booking experience to their guests. The hotel has already seen their direct revenue via the personalised booking platform soar by 60% compared to the same period in 2016.
Avvio’s booking technology accumulates data and remembers how visitors interact with your site, so that when they come back, they’re greeted with a personalised Ôwelcome back’ message, which highlights their previous search and makes it quick and easy for them to find exactly what they want. This is paired with stand-out reminders to announce that it’s better to book direct, and personalised upsells to incentivise the visitor to make a booking.
John Downes, Digital Marketing Executive for the independent hotel, explains ÒThe very fact that the website remembers our returning website visitors’ preferred booking date and possibly their name, depending on how far they progress in the booking process, creates a bond between the guest and our hotel. From here, we focus on building on that loyalty and relationship.Ó
Looking to the future
Avvio’s pioneering personalisation and machine learning strategies, designed specifically to drive direct bookings, are always developing. In October, Avvio is due to release the world’s first booking platform powered by artificial intelligence (AI), Allora.
Allora will create a unique conversation between the hotel and the guest and leverage AI to optimise and personalise their journey. This adds a level of sophistication to digital interactions, meaning that accommodation providers will no longer deliver a one-size-fits-all booking experience, but be able to tailor it to each individual guest, improving their satisfaction and increasing their likelihood of booking direct. Allora will do this by tracking and analysing data across all of Avvio’s partner hotel websites, based on geography, guest history, booking preferences, interactions on site, conversions and more. The platform will then suggest relevant options based on demonstrated guest behaviour and optimise the booking journey to guide bookers to book direct and with as high a booking value as possible. Due to the nature of machine learning technology, Allora will evolve and improve with every interaction, enabling automated, personalised and relevant one-to-one guest engagement across the entire traveler lifecycle.
Ultimately Allora isn’t a booking engine, it’s more of a conversation platform which is genuinely trying to curate a more refined and more appropriate conversation with your website visitor, and that may be a conversation about loyalty or a booking, or an upsell. We can’t continue to provide all customers with the same conversation.
By Fionnuala Bland
Fionnuala Bland is the PR Executive for Avvio, the premium booking platform and digital agency for hotels and serviced apartment providers. Founded in 2002, Avvio has grown year-on-year by developing cutting-edge technologies that enable accommodation providers to drive outstanding growth in direct bookings, while reducing their dependence on online travel agencies.
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