The majority of travelers are not loyal to any one hotel, and hotels need to focus on creating personalized experiences from customer data to get traveler loyalty, according to a study released this week.

The study, commissioned by Sabre Hospitality Solutions and conducted by Forrester Consulting, was focused on determining how hotels can increase customer loyalty. Forrester conducted surveys with consumers as well as interviews with hotel senior executives and chief information officers, and “found that collecting and applying customer data and insights to deliver seamless, cross-channel experiences, especially to millennial customers, along with providing personal touches to travelers in exchange for their data, is key to meeting customers’ expectations, thereby improving their customer experience and fostering loyalty.”

Among the study’s findings were that frequent travelers are more loyal to brands, but 64% of leisure travelers and 52% of business travelers said they are not loyal to a particular brand. Sixty-nine percent of travelers tell family and friends about travel products and services, and 46% rely on those recommendations.

Using customer data and insights about customers will help hotels structure more personalized experiences around their guests, according to the study. In turn, that personalization will drive brand preference. While trust is key when sharing data, especially considering recent data breaches, travelers are willing to share trip-related personal information with hotels. For instance, 79% are willing to share their room location preferences.

The study also found that hotels are relying on “splintered technology systems that fragment data,” making it difficult to collect the information that could help them meet guest expectations. Additionally, seamless booking experiences are key; more than half of travelers expect to make changes to their reservation via the same channel they booked it on, or a different one.

“But hotels have no hope of servicing customers effectively across channels if they can’t store and match customer data across systems,” according to the study.

The study recommends that hotels retool their loyalty strategy based on customer data and insights. It also urges them to work with their vendor partners to create technology solutions that will allow them to collect the data they need to cater to their guests’ wants and needs.

Training should also be developed to act on customer data, the study recommends. While technology is hindering hotels’ ability to collect and effectively utilize customer data, acting upon that data is also important once it is in hand, and all staff should be expected to  provide personalized service, according to the study.


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