It's not just start-ups and technology companies that are adopting and implementing digital and artificial intelligence solutions to keep track of users. The action has shifted to hotel chains too. It's not anymore just about food, hygiene and ambience, but replicating exemplary customer experience at every touch point through the customer lifecycle. That's easier said than done.
In the modern hotel, now there are numerous data collection points and each touch point provides meaningful data about the customer which can be utilised to provide a better experience each time.
To cater to the changing needs of the discerning customer, the Taj Group of Hotels has identified five areas: mobility, big data, cloud, social media and robotics to keep abreast. Says Renu Basu, Global Head of Sales, Taj Group of Hotels: "We are very strong in the first four. We have lot of technology platforms to serve the customer better. One is the website, then there is the mobile app, then we have a command centre called Taj Live. That helps us monitor all the relevant conversations."
To keep up with the millenials, the hotel chain is very strong in social media. The command centre keeps it in touch with what people are talking about it. The big difference is the speed at which issues are addressed. Where it earlier took nearly two days to respond to a comment or query, it is now done in 15 minutes. Basu adds that technology has made Taj Hotels more agile and pro-active in the last couple of years. Basically, tech has become a way of life for the hotel industry.
To get this in place, Taj acquired the Oracle Sales Automation cloud to bring together various aspects of the hotel chain together. Says Basu: "Early last year we went in for a robust vendor selection process. We needed modern selling trends and shortlisted Oracle. The solution needed a technique that would cater to our diverse clientele that included mature people and millenials who are facing the customer. We wanted something that gives us a 360 degree view of the customer."
The benefits of such a solution have started to emerge. The Taj Group now has a deep knowledge of customers to help serve them better. Basu says that the chain has more customer records than before, and can store it in a more effective manner to provide seamless experience to customers. To take personalized experience to the next level, hotels will have to step up the game and use advanced technologies such as big data for consumer pattern based intelligent analytics for sales and marketing functions.
Explains Sanchit Vir Gogia, chief analyst and CEO, Greyhound Research: "Use of cloud services can take away the burden of routine IT services and the hotel can focus on effective and intelligent use of data. It is no longer enough to have a revenue management system. In hospitality, it is essential to provide exceptional personalised experience which can be done with the data collected."