Many hoteliers reading this will be working with a number of different digital, social, marketing and PR agencies, different software vendors, partners, suppliers – all focused on delivering increased visibility, increased conversions and ultimately increased income into your business.
It’s a lot to do – it’s a lot to manage and in a digital industry that is rapidly becoming more confusing, contradictory and in many ways expensive – it can take a disproportionate amount of your time as a professional hotel marketer.
And, at the centre of this work, these relationships, work streams, investments and budgets is the customer and their experience. Sometimes it is incredibly difficult to manage and balance these competing streams of work, partners and priorities to ensure that the customer is not inconvenienced by having their experienced improved.
But we need data – loads of data, more and more data – Google, Facebook, agencies and management consultancies have told us that data-led insight is the only way to succeed in creating loyalty, brand recognition and excellent customer experiences.
Whilst I don’t disagree with the need for the right type of data – and indeed work hard to understand this – I believe that we are missing a touch of humanity.
In our (agencies and clients) thirst for data to inform decision making we tend to overlook our professional capability, our shared creativity and at the core the fact that we are all human and (I hope) empathetic to others needs – including our customers.
We’ve all seen and experienced (in my mind) poor examples of this desperation for data ourselves;
- Can you complete the questionnaire that appears in a pop up in your browser?
- Can you answer a couple of emailed or texted questions?
- Can you press a red, amber or green button on how clean the toilets were?
No – I can’t. I expect the toilets to be clean. I’ve completed the task I wanted on the website. I have completed my transaction with you. Go away.
In creating effective and human led experiences I consider that we need to look toward a simple balance – namely data-fed, creative-led experiences. And indeed, this is the way we work with our clients and how – we suggest you should look to engage your digital agencies (in all their many forms).
This rather crude sketch highlights what I mean;
Data provides a retrospective view on what has happened. It tells you how successful your previous ideas have been with customers. How your previous work and agency ideas have been received by your customer. It gives you historical trends. It gives indicators as to what may happen in the future – but much like football pundits – it can’t predict the future and more often than not it may get it wrong.
It delivers you some short term commercial returns. A quick change to a campaign – using Facebook rather than Twitter, redesigning some calls to action on a booking page, creating some new leaflets in reception.
Creative takes you forward. It takes a more human perspective – pulling together the learning from the data and understandings of human behaviour, need and wants. It can design the future, it can influence your customers engagement and interactions in a much more sustainable manner than data alone.
It creates (and should be focused on) longer term retention and engagement. It creates fun, memories and loyalty.
And at the centre are your customers experiences. Data feeding into the nuance, the detail, the location of buttons, the words used, the pictures seen. Creative leading the emotional engagement, the messaging, attracting the attention and creating the loyalty.
By understanding and adopting this simple structure to your engagement with your agencies and partners and your design of customer experiences you may find that the balance between data and your (and your agencies) own professional and creative capability ultimately delivers a more fulfilling and human experience for your customers.