Powering Potential through Personalization in Hospitality

This blog draws on the results of a North Highland-sponsored survey conducted in September 2019. To analyze organizational attitudes and determine the most critical priorities for 2020, we surveyed more than 700 business leaders from organizations across industries that had 2018 revenues greater than $1 billion and that are headquartered in the U.S. or U.K.

In our annual Beacon research, customer experience (CX) (87 percent) and data & analytics (D&A) (85 percent) are two of the top priorities for 2020. And, in the hospitality and leisure industry, these two priorities are indisputably linked: 98 percent of marketers agree that analytics-enabled personalization strengthens customer relationships. For hospitality leaders, addressing personalization commands a focus on three key 2020 transformation areas: experience, data, and technology. Our annual Beacon research highlights how hospitality leaders can unlock the potential of personalization by harnessing opportunities that cross these transformation areas.

Hospitality consumers set the stage for 2020

As reflected in our research with business leaders across industries, CX is of paramount importance to the future of hospitality. Cited as a priority among 87 percent of business leaders, 50 percent also tell us that CX is a transformation area for 2020. Hospitality consumers, particularly those in the emerging millennial generation, crave and expect personalized experiences that make them feel valued, cared for, and understood. Indeed, about a third of business leaders in our research (30 percent) cite generational customer demands as a factor driving change in strategic direction. And, in the hospitality industry, millennials are expected to represent half of all travelers by 2025. Faced with generationally driven customer preferences and expectations, hospitality leaders must look to personalization to enable tailored experiences—exploring the role of data and technology in order to get there.

Powering experience with insights

Hospitality brands need to analyze data on customers and prospects to inform the design of effective customer engagement plans and power the delivery of personalized experiences. As an enabler of CX, data & technology is the top transformation area for business leaders in 2020 (53 percent).

Employees play an especially critical role in the delivery of CX through insights-driven personalization. Customer-centric hospitality companies must inform decisions with data, in which actions are consistently driven by customer feedback in the form of insights shaped from behavior, purchase history, and more. To power personalization in a customer-centric, data-driven culture, organizations must reinvent how they share data with employees, arming them with insights needed to better serve the customer. Today, business leaders cite knowledge and skills (72 percent) as the largest barrier to addressing strategic priorities. An intentional focus on employee skillset development in the area of analytics and data visualization tools can better position hospitality leaders to establish customer-centric, data-driven cultures in 2020 and beyond. This ultimately ensures that customer-facing employees are equipped with the insights they need to please guests through unparalleled service.

Aligning the tech stack to deliver experience

In our research, digital adoption (38 percent) is the second highest internal catalyst driving change in strategic priorities. Accordingly, hospitality leaders are looking at ways that the tech stack can power CX through personalization. To prime technology to address CX objectives, the key is to start with an experience-led approach, in which organizations align on a singular view of the customer journey. For each of the interactions across the journey, it’s critical to define the organizational function(s) playing a role in that interaction (e.g. Marketing, Sales, Operations, etc.), and then identify the data either created or consumed at each interaction. Then, hospitality organizations can map the back-stage activities and data flow to connect different technology systems across functional teams.

Silos across technology platforms can inhibit insights that enable unified delivery of seamless experiences. In our research, only about 18 percent of business leaders tell us that siloed solutions are an internal catalyst driving change in strategic priorities– yet, in our work with clients, linking technology and data across the customer journey is foundational to the delivery of differentiated, personalized experiences.

In addition, technologies like intelligent automation can help hospitality organizations more efficiently deliver personalization, helping reduce their reliance on legacy technology assets and manage resource challenges stemming from employee turnover. These investments can also help organizations address operational efficiency as another top strategic priority in our research (cited by 85 percent of respondents).

In hospitality, the drive to acquire new customers and secure long-term guest satisfaction is paramount. Personalization—enabled by analytics—is one critical lever for industry leaders seeking to enable the tailored experiences needed to meet their top priorities. To unlock the potential of personalization, our Beacon research demonstrates the importance of viewing this opportunity through a multi-dimensional lens that encompasses experience, data, and technology.

Click here to learn more about 2020 trends.

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