Using a channel manager to reach your potential hostel guests

Nowadays technology is something which is everywhere to find in our daily lives. Also, hostels should make use of technology available to engage with their customers. Before the guests are visiting the hostel, they will make a booking. The booking experience is one of the first touch points with the hostel. If guests are facing issues, for instance overbooking, it can give them a bad experience. Even though the hostel and its services are amazing, the guest will still remember the bad experience during the booking process. In order to avoid overbookings or other issues during the booking process, hostels have to start making use of the available technology tools (Hostelskills.com, 2016).

In addition, it can be confusing for guests to find the right website to book their room. To make it easier for guests to find the right channel to book their room, a hostel could implement a channel manager. A channel manager is a software that automatically updates all the booking platforms and manages the different channels. The benefit of using a channel manager is the fact that it automatically updates room availability on all channels. Also, when hostel owners update information regarding the hostel, it will automatically change on every website. It saves time and it can improve reviews as guests do not have to deal with overbookings anymore. In this way the hostel can get a better online reputation as well (Hostelskills.com, 2016).

Another big advantage of a channel manager is the fact that it collects data and transfers this to a hostel’s property management system. In this way a hostel can get information about the guests, for instance what type of room, price, name, age etc. With these data hostels can personalize their offers and guests will feel appreciated (Pitcock, 2015).

Most hostel guests are millennials and this is influencing the online distribution of hostels. Popular booking websites for hostels are for example Hostelworld, Hostelbookers, Hostels.com and it is even possible to book a room on Booking.com. These are just a few examples, as there are many more online channels available. Since there is this great amount of channels, a channel manager can make it easier to reach these millennials as they are generally making more use of online booking systems. Moreover, it is easier to handle all these channels with a channel manager and finally, a hostel can grow and succeed and receive more bookings (Remmelzwaan, 2017).

Sources:

Hostelskills.com. (2016). Channel Manager – What’s That? Retrieved October 5, 2017, from http://www.hostelskills.com/skills/channel-manager-whats/

Hostelskills.com. (2016). How to make guests feel special? Personalize your hostel offers. Retrieved October 5, 2017, from http://www.hostelskills.com/interviews/how-to-make-guests-feel-special-personalize-your-hostel-offers/

Pitcock, C. (2015). An intro to hostel – Channel managers. Retrieved October 5, 2017, from http://www.hosteltrends.com: http://www.hosteltrends.com/intro-to-channel-managers/

Remmelzwaan, M. (2017). How Millennials are Influencing Online Distribution of the HOSTEL INDUSTRY. Retrieved October 8, 2017, from http://blog.smarthotel.nl/en/how-millennials-are-influencing-online-distribution-of-the-hostel-industry

Source picture:
eZee Centrix – Online Hotel Channel Manager. (2017). Not Just An Online Hotel Channel Manager But, A Complete Distribution Ecosystem. Retrieved October 12, 2017, from http://www.ezeecentrix.com/

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Airlines use the Data Mining Techniques to improve Customer Service

“The increase in the quantity of data and the decrease in the available analysis time have led to a growing need for an inductive method which will assist in finding useful relationships between (selected) data”. (Peelen, E. & Beltman, R., 2013, p.141)

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The vast number of different offers and availability of communication technologies provides the airline customers with the access to information about all existing competitors, products, availability and prices. Due to these factors, airline business needs to be customer centric – companies have to identify the most valuable customers and apply effective strategies in developing relationships with them. The collection and analysis of the huge amount of information about the customers would be impossible without artificial intelligence and the method that assists in finding all useful relationships between data – data mining. For instance, studying the information about the methods to attract customers can help to determine the destinations they want to visit. And reviewing the costs of airplane upkeep, equipment and staff can help in budgeting (Ishikawa, 2015).

The quality of the customer service depends on how much information the airline companies gather about their customers. It is really hard to find a specific customer service data due to the huge quantity of available information. However, some airlines have great examples of successful attempts to use the data mining techniques to improve customer service.

The Southwest Airline company, for example, is applying big data throughout different departments of the organizations to be able to deliver the highest quality of customer service. The front-line staff receives real-time KPI (Key Performance Indicator) dashboards related to operational and strategic goals. They use speech analytics to get deep and meaningful information from the live-recorded interactions between customers and staff. This helps Southwest Airlines to get more information about the customer preferences and to see what kind of experience they receive. Different metrics help the personnel to achieve the objective of delivering high-quality service (Rijmenam, 2013).

Moreover, Southwest Airlines uses data mining to analyze the real-time data from social media in order to provide their customers with individual offers. It helps to promote the right product to the right customer at the proper time and via a suitable channel. This personalized experience is leading to a higher growth and increase in customer satisfaction. Therefore, the Southwest Airlines is an innovative company that uses the latest technologies and data mining techniques to improve their organization, create better products and service, and increase customer satisfaction (Rijmenam, 2013).

If every airline implement the same techniques as Southwest Airlines, it will be a great step towards an improvement of customer service and satisfaction, which will definitely increase the companies’ profit.

 

Sources:

Ed Peelen, Rob Beltman (2013). Customer Relationship Management

Ishikawa, M. (2015). Data mining’s impact on the airline industry. Retrieved October 1, 2017 from http://www.avianaglobal.com/blog/data-minings-impact-on-the-airline-industry/

Rijmenam, M. (2013) Southwest Airlines Uses Big Data To Deliver Excellent Customer Service. Retrieved October 1, 2017 from https://datafloq.com/read/southwest-airlines-uses-big-data-deliver-excellent/371

How to understand hostel customers by analysing their social media behaviour

Anyone who has ever stayed in a hostel will tell you that most of the guests were quite young. This will be correct because most travelers staying at hostels are between 18 to 30 years old (AllTheRooms, 2017). Simultaneously, this is a demographic which is very active on social media. For example, 88% of this age-group in the USA uses Facebook and 59% is active on Instagram (Greenwood, Perrin, & Duggan, 2016). Now, a smart business owner will see the correlation and ask themselves how they can use this to their advantage.

There are several ways to use social media when running a business. For now, we will focus on understanding your customers by using social affinity data. Social affinity data can give you a lot of information on your customer’s like’s and dislike’s and where their interests lie, for example by checking what posts are read (Fisher, 2017).

chrisoharachart(O’Hara, 2014)

As you can see in the chart above, there are several ways in which customers can give you information about themselves. Viewing affinities will let you know where your customers interests lie, by seeing what they like to do online and where they do it. Buying affinities will show you a person’s buying habits, although it lacks information about the motivations behind the buy. Furthermore, conversational affinities are all about what people are talking about online. Social conversations can provide you with a lot of data. Lastly there are the social behaviour affinities. This is about the people’s actions in social environments. It does not only include ‘like’s’ or ‘follows’, but it focusses mainly on what their actual actions are. This can be engaging in a fanpage or posting a video for example (O’Hara, 2014).

According to Gaelle Bertrand of Kantar Media “You can glean insights in a few hours. The hailed millennials and post-millennials live their lives online. You have to reach and understand them where most relevant.” (Fisher, 2017). Having all these insights in your customers can help you a great deal with your business. When you can understand what your mutual interests are, you can use it to, for example,  promote your hostel, interact with customers and make informed decisions about the content you want to post.

To conclude, hostel-customers are generally very active on social media, so it is a logical choice to use it to understand your customers. When using the four types of social affinity data, you can create a clear picture of who your customer is, what they do and where their interests lie. It will be an asset to improve your business and it will help you connect with your customers. After all, knowlegde is power.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor knowledge is power

 

 

Bibliography

AllTheRooms. (2017, June 8). What Is the Average Age Demographic in Hostels? Retrieved on 2 October 2017 from http://www.alltherooms.com: https://www.alltherooms.com/w/2017/06/08/average-age-demographic-hostels/

Fisher, L. (2017, May 24). Using social media to understand your customers. Retrieved on 2 October 2017 from https://www.raconteur.net/business/using-social-media-to-understand-your-customers

Greenwood, S., Perrin, A., & Duggan, M. (2016, November 11). Social Media Update 2016. Retrieved on 2 October 2017 from http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/11/11/social-media-update-2016/

O’Hara, C. (2014, April 15). Social Affinity Data: The Key To The Fabled ‘360 Degree View’. Retrieved on 2 October 2017 from https://adexchanger.com/data-driven-thinking/social-affinity-data-the-key-to-the-fabled-360-degree-view/

 

Featured image from: http://www.petermorscheck.xyz/instagram-ad-disclosure-ftc/

Picture ‘Knowledge is Power’ retrieved from http://www.knowoneteachone.com/how-knowledge-is-power/

Liking, sharing and commenting towards marketing goals

Customer data management is fundamental to customer analytics. Due to social media, customer data is not scarce anymore, it is the opposite: there is information overload nowadays because of the social platforms (Peelen & Beltman, 2013). As stated in Lucy Fisher’s article (2017), many market researchers believe social media represents a more efficient form of research than traditional surveys.

Since social media can affect the relationship between a brand and the customer, it is crucial to have a good understanding of each platform, as from each different data could be summoned. For example, people can only publish short texts of a maximum of 140 words on Twitter, while on Facebook they can post, like, share and comment whatever they want with an unlimited word count. That said, it can be stated that Twitter is less social than Facebook, which is an important conclusion when looking into using social media as customer data (Fisher, 2017).

If we stick to the platform of Facebook, various data could be found when looking into customer’s behaviour. This data is beneficial for any organization, including airlines. We can now ask ourselves the following: how can airlines use Facebook to gain knowledge about their customers?

There are multiple ways to do this, but many businesses are now choosing to invest high amounts in services that offer them human behaviour analysis of online conversations (Griffith, 2016). This means, for example, if customers identify themselves on the Facebook page of a brand community by sharing, liking or commenting, the profile data of their Facebook friends then also become accessible to the brand or organisation (Peelen & Beltman, 2013). Information about who is commenting on or liking the action of that one customer can help the organization, in this case the airline, to get a more sophisticated understanding of why and how customers are talking about the brand or company (Griffith, 2016).

Airlines can use this information to, for example, create advertisement campaigns focused on sex, age, residence, interests etcetera. This way, the organization can aim their advertisements directly to the target group of their desire for a specific product. This is called a ‘sponsored ad’. With these sponsored ads, companies and organizations can come into contact with the people who will most likely be interested in their product or service (Facebook, 2017).

There are companies that use this kind of customer analytics. However, it would be very beneficial for airlines to do so as well. Airlines operate in the service industry, and keeping up with technology and new trends – such as social media – is crucial in order to provide the best service possible. By using social media to gain customer data, better marketing goals could be established. Using sponsored ads could be, for instance, a marketing goal for airlines. These kinds of marketing goals will be very beneficial for airlines since they are based on an efficient form of research that is modern, effective and would eventually lead to a significant increase in sales, which airlines LIKE!

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References

Facebook. (2017). Over Facebook-advertenties. Retrieved 29 September, 2017, from https://www.facebook.com/about/ads/

Fisher, L. (2017). Using social media to understand your customers. Retrieved 27 September, 2017, from https://www.raconteur.net/business/using-social-media-to-understand-your-customers

Griffith, G. (2016) Get to know customers better by monitoring social media sentiment. Retrieved 29 September 2017, from https://www.raconteur.net/business/get-to-know-customers-better-by-monitoring-social-media-sentiment

Peelen, E. & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. (2nd ed.). Harlow, United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited.

Image source
Ron Mader (2013), Facebook buzzwords [ONLINE]. Available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/planeta/12229483403/in/photolist-jCFim8-cgZpFE-cgZqsS-pfd7yn-cgZpM1-9gYyxx-8TFKPw-4w73y5-cgZpTf-cgZprY-9Kw1n5-5GTG6Y-2Sgfop-eiRBkJ-8maR9D-rZeRr-eiRCd3-6tXitf-5GTwBN-VV7YB-5iEcGp-are6px-998J5P-8prM2U-3EQcfX-dYJnHQ-7BTXFQ-5GPpvM-68zmWP-7n9KUG-dzrqFa-8tvpnP-8x3RTg-SuRYir-aqAa3U-66qXWr-6mQXgU-gTHWaQ-ibAMaG-7UgFsL-aKzuP2-5GTBCQ-8x6SjG-SiyAUu-8TzaCG-9LjJbp-622yhY-5auQM3-87G6qd-4iWgSs , accessed 2 October 2017

Cookies, their small database of you, on your computer

COOKIES

We could say that all company are collecting data. Data is one of the essentials for companies. If a company knows its customers’ wants and needs, they can respond to that in terms of marketing purposes which could lead to more profit. The most known data is names, addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses, but there is much more than that. Communication channel preferences, transaction and communication history, and satisfaction of customers are all examples of relevant information about customers which are of importance to the companies. A valuable tool for companies is cookies(Big Commerce, n.d.).

A lot of people accept the cookies without even knowing what they are. When entering a website in the Netherlands, it must ask you to accept its cookies. Cookies are small text files stored in the web user’s browsing history, placed by the websites of companies. They are created to hold specific data of a website and its customers. Cookies enable a web server to customize the website automatically to customers’ preferences and search history(Big Commerce, n.d.).

Cookies are an easy way for a website to carry information about the user’s previous sessions on that website. The cookies are most of the time stored under a certain user name of the user. This user name will link all of the information to the user such as; a password, preferred page lay-out and other preferences. A new user may see the regular landing page and a returning user could see a completely different pages which is based on the cookies of the user. This is part of the customer experience. Without cookies, webpages would be less useful and not interactive. Cookies make it possible to remember its users. A lot of Dutch commercial websites explain why they use cookies(What are cookies, n.d.).

Since the companies are collecting a lot of data, it’s becoming important to formulate a vision on the topic of data. According to Peelen & Beltman (2013) ‘Consumers, the competition, legislation and the value of data as a resource can be taken into consideration. A vision like this could be translated into a marketing concept which leads to the formulation of “permission marketing”.  In this way, the user is asked for permission to focus on commercial messages so that a company can customise their offers to the user.’ An example of a company that explains why they use cookies in the hotel industry is the Van Der Valk hotel chain.

The Van Der Valk hotel chain explains why they use certain types of cookies. One of their cookies are used to show the user advertisements on other websites. The usage of these ‘Commercial cookies’ is called retargeting. It is based on the destinations and properties that the user has been searching for on the website of Van Der Valk. There are many hotels and accommodation suppliers that use the cookies to customize the advertisements online. It is an effective way of marketing which is enabled by the cookies(Van Der Valk Hotel Eindhoven, n.d.).

Sources:

Big Commerce. (n.d.). What is a cookie and why is it important? Retrieved October 2, 2017, from Big Commerce: https://www.bigcommerce.com/ecommerce-answers/what-cookie-and-why-it-important/

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. Harlow, United Kingdom: Pearson Education.

Van Der Valk Hotel Eindhoven. (2017). Cookies. Retrieved October 2, 2017, from Hotel Eindhoven: https://www.hoteleindhoven.nl/en/cookies

What are cookies. (n.d.). Computer Cookies Explained. Retrieved October 2, 2017, from What are Cookies?: http://www.whatarecookies.com

 

 

Information sources for acquiring data for hostels

Data
Source: smartdatacollective.com

Finding the right sources to collect customer data is very important. Data says something about the identity and profile of the customer which creates a better picture (Peelen & Beltman 2013). This Information of current and future customers needs to be collected from various sources/channels and when possible bought from external data suppliers like Google for example. The set-up and maintenance of customer databases require spending and investment. If it is clear which expenses must be incurred in order to collect, register and keep data current, it will also become clear that investment is only needed in those data which contribute to the customer profile. (Peelen & Beltman 2013)

For hostels there are many channels/sources to collect data from. This could be from social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter), similar hostels, search websites (booking.com, hostelworld) etc. I will only discuss 2 useful channels/sources that hostels can use for acquiring data.

Search websites

Some examples of search websites are hostelword.com, hostels.com and booking.com. These are all hostel search engines travellers use for searching for the right hostel. Previous research identifies that travellers use various information channels when they search for hostels. Search engines are more important at the beginning of the search whereas review, OTAs and hostel websites are more important at the middle of the search. Lastly, OTAs and the hostels’ website are stated as being more important at the time of the actual booking (Murphy, 2014). Knowing this we can say that using data from these websites will certainly help you in getting more customer information. For example in booking.com, many travellers have a personal profile with a profile picture, primary information but also other information like other hostels they visited, their search criteria etc.

Similar hostels

Another source which I think is useful is using the data on customers from other similar or even competing hostels. As these hostels are similar they probably attract the same customers, they could have new data or insights on their customers which could be useful for others as well. A question is whether they are willing to exchange this information with other hostels as they are most likely to be competitors and don’t want them to use this additional information which could lead to attracting more customers. However, a deal could be made whether this is money or something else which profit both of them.

Finally, it is important to invest in quality data, this will lead to an increase in the effectiveness of acquisition. In this way the right customers are approached with the right offer at the right time. Not only does the chance of a sale increase, but also of attracting the right customers. (Peelen & Beltman 2013)

Bibliography

Peelen, E. & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management, Page 93-100, Pearson.

Murphy, H. (2014, September). Optimizing Online Distribution Channels: The Case Of Hostels. Hospitalitynet.

Knowledge Is Power – Knowing Your Customer Is Money !

The importance of connecting customer Data

The widely accepted saying by Francis Bacon “knowledge is power” (1597) can also be translated to the hotel industry. Knowledge of your customers will ensure your ability to satisfy your guests’ needs and wishes even beyond their expectations which eventually translates into Money! To gain customer knowledge one has to gather data.

Thanks to the development in technology, customer data can now cost-efficient and easily be collected through numerous channels, particularly online. Commonly, customers will provide their data through their mobile devices (BBVA, 2015). While data is the fundament of all customer knowledge its sheer collection is not going to bring you any success; it needs to be stored and used in the right way. To make data usable, the quality of the data  has to be ensured and it must be organised in such a way that during each customer contact the respective person has all (for him/her) relevant data available (Peelen & Beltman , 2013). Hence Customer data integration should be aimed for.

Data can be accumulated and organised in one central database (including all available data from all different channels) and then be divided into sub databases to match the needs of different departments within the hotel. While your receptionists will want a selected set of customer information that helps indentifying the guest and see his/her familiarity with the hotel’s facilities; the marketing department, on the other hand, will need a 360 degree view of the client including more detailed information about transaction and interaction data to develop successful marketing plans.

Moreover, all systems have to be interconnected to avoid incorrect information. This means that similar information has to labelled equally throughout all databases to ensure easy synchronisation (Peelen & Beltman, 2013). As a result the receptionist’s correction of the family-name from Johnson to Jonson will immediately be available for the other departments and errors that could upset customers reduced. This will not be possible if the family name is referred to as last name or surname in other databases.

Particularly within a hotel it is inevitable to have a well working system to integrate customer data. As mentioned in the blog “The successful creation of a  close relationship with customers in the hotel business” a strong relationship between a business and customers is facilitates by recognizing the customer themselves and additional preferences. For instance, the system could inform the housekeeping staff that the guest that is about to arrive for the room prefers the windows to be opened as he had mentioned during his last visit. Additionally the information maybe shared with through the system with the receptionist who can during the check-in process already mention this adaptation to his needs to delight the arriving customer.

Overall, connecting your customers’ data will ensure you can exceed the needs and wishes of your customers without them repeating them to you. The collected data through the various channels provide insights in the wishes of your guests and can provide hints on how communication with the customer is handled best. The key to your success is to use the data to generate knowledge that will give you the power to outperform your competitors through bonding your guests as they feel not only welcomed, but also recognized and understood.

Sources: 

Bacon, F. (1597). As cited in Knowledge is power quotation by Monticello  (n.d.). Retrieved September 29, 2017 from  https://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/knowledge-power-quotation

BBVA. (2015). The impact of web analytics on tourism: Big Data in the hotel industry. Retrieved September 28, 2017 from https://www.bbva.com/en/impact-web-analytics-tourism-big-data-hotel-industry/

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer relationship management. Boston : Pearson, 2013.