Taking the Creepy Factor Out of Collecting Guest Data(Part I)

August 22, 2016

Big Data is trending in every industry. However, the hospitality industry where guest experience is crucial, has been lagging behind in collecting guest data seamlessly. Big Data in hospitality encompasses everything from guest preferences such as, locations, activities and room type to duration of stay, frequency and time of the year. All these data points help hotels better understand how to increase brand loyalty and wallet share.

But as hotels capture this data, guests are always concerned about how this data is collected. How can hotels ensure guest privacy is not violated in the process? How can hotels collect data about their guests without adding the “creepy factor” to it? Hotels have been collecting data for years but to collect meaningful data that guests offer up themselves about themselves to hotels can be done in only one way – trust. Hotels need to gain guest trust. How can hotels do this?

Gaining Guest Trust:

To eliminate the “creepy factor”, you as a hotel simply need to be transparent with your guest about what data is being collected, what will be done with it, how hotel’s learning from the data will benefit them the guest. Also, give them an option to opt out – and mean it. Don’t hide it. Don’t put a tiny line at the bottom that only someone zooming into the screen by 200% will be able to read – make it easy to read and respect their wishes. This is not a survey but there is nothing wrong with offering something in return for motivating them to provide some information about their preferences.

Once their personal information is collected, hoteliers need to ensure the data collected is reliable and accurate and that the data should be protected and secured from potential data breaches.

Other ways of ensuring trust are the usual corporate responsibility (but still important to note) requirements – such as developing a privacy policy – but don’t just develop it – make sure everyone – yes, everyone, your staff and guests alike know about it. Banks and hospitals have clients and patients sign a privacy policy acknowledgement at least once a year. Hotels don’t need to resort to that – yet. But it is still good practice for everyone to be aware of it. Having it written up somewhere, hidden in a folder on a computer somewhere doesn’t help anyone and doesn’t help you get any data from your guests.

Now that you have their trust, how can you get your guests to offer data – in fact, how can your guests become data collectors on your behalf? Well, Disney has become the master of that by utilizing “Magic Bands” which allow visitors to access parks, unlock hotel rooms, purchase food or merchandise with just a tap – but while convenient to the guest, they provide data to the hotel of where the guest is, what the guest likes to eat most, where the guest spends most of their time, by collecting some basic data about the family up front, they have data about family preferences, ride preferences, food preferences for those age groups, family sizes etc. And so “wearable technology” is an innovative and non-intrusive way of real-time data without being intrusive.

While hotels may feel cost to implement such wearable technology is too high -it’s actually not. And instead the information that can be collected in a way that isn’t creepy to help you provide a better experience to your guests is in our opinion well worth it. We will discuss how you can implement wearable technology at your hotel in Part II of this blog Clicking Here. Stay tuned – and please leave your comments and thoughts on using wearable technology by guests below. We would love to hear from you!

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