Preparing for each guests arrival can be a complex task - so imagine if you were able to know more about their needs and wants ahead of check-in? That’s exactly what the team behind Guest Insights set out to achieve. We spoke to Teodora Colic, Senior Product Manager at Booking.com learn more about how the tool was developed and how it can benefit partners.
Click.: Why did Booking.com create Guest Insights?
Colic: Guest Insights was born from the ambition to provide partners with support throughout all stages of the guest experience.
While we were helping our partners optimise all of the stages before the guest’s stay - property visibility during search, communication with future guests, support in the event of any issues and so on - we weren’t historically offering them support during the stay itself, during the offline element of the guest’s experience. This is such a key driver of guest satisfaction, we wanted to create something that would help partners deliver even better service during what is really the crux of the guest experience.
Click.: Why did you focus on providing insights rather than specific products?
Colic: When we spoke to guests and they gave us examples of memorable stays from the past, typically it always came back to a personalised approach. Looking beyond the generic and focusing more on when the hosts gave local recommendations and really tried to understand what the guest was interested in. For example, we had a customer who was allergic to bananas and had great memories of a hotel that did everything possible to make sure their environment didn’t expose them to the fruit. What made the experience special was when a partner acted on information that was really particular to that individual guest.
Click.: How did you land on the right insights to share with partners?
Colic: We spent a lot of time looking at the information that would help partners provide a more personal guest experience - and creating something scalable. We came up with a list that provided a sweet spot between what partners asked for (what they knew they could action and weren’t currently getting from customers) and the pieces of information that guests were willing to share.
Click.: What are the Guest Insight categories?
Colic: Firstly, allergies - because a lack of awareness on these can have serious consequences. Having advance knowledge of these needs removes pressure on the partner and allows them to prepare in advance. No more scrambling to replace groceries to avoid certain ingredients or change pillows in the guest’s room at the last minute.
Then, dietary restrictions. In a similar vein to the allergy information, this gives the host time to source appropriate ingredients or provide suitable meals if the guest has a specific need such as being vegan. It also gives them the opportunity to recommend places in the local area where guests could dine and have their dietary requirements fulfilled.
The next is the age of all guests. A lot of properties told us this was very helpful information, particularly in combination with other insights. For example, if the guest wants to know about attractions and you already know the party will include a number of small children, the partner can advise on options most suitable for their needs. This information can also inform basic services - for example, if the guest is elderly and the property doesn’t have a lift a room on the ground floor can be assigned.
We also look at interests - what the guest is most keen to experience while they are there. Perhaps the guest is really interested in art and culture; then the partner can recommend hidden local treasures that would appeal. We heard from one partner in Montenegro who knew of a lot of hip, hidden galleries that the guest would be unlikely to find if they just looked at Google, and he had connections who could offer unique experiences. Again, this is about offering a more bespoke experience in place of the traditional in-room brochure.
And finally, we now ask guests if they are willing to share one to three past reviews from other stays with Booking.com partners as these help indicate what the guest cares about. This insight isn’t black and white - if a guest hated food in one hotel they won’t necessarily hate it in the next - but they do help indicate potential areas to focus on like cleanliness. Armed with this knowledge partners can better accommodate the guest and focus on what matters to them.
Click.: How impactful is this information when put to use?
Colic: We measured the impact on review score, and the average scores for partners who did receive the Guest Insights were higher. So, we proved impact there and indeed that is the most short term benefit.
Click.: What’s next for Guest Insights?
Colic: The information is currently available via the Extranet and Pulse, and we are working to make this information accessible to partners using a channel manager or other connection. We’re also working on customer adoption so that participating partners definitely get the information they need. Looking to the future, we will likely expand the insights offered to add further categories, which will, of course, be informed by partner feedback and guest research.
- Guest Insights was developed to provide partners with support throughout all stages of the guest experience, going beyond the online elements
- The team focused on information that would help inform a more personalised stay - something guests felt was key to a memorable experience
- The insights cover allergies, dietary requirements, age of guests, interests and past review scores
- The pilot saw a direct impact on review score - where partners actioned the insights their average review score was higher than those who had not