Personalizing the Guest Experience While Protecting their Privacy — A HITEC Europe Preview

As competition intensifies and technology evolves, the hospitality industry must rise to meet the latest expectations of all traveling demographics — and that now includes a customized guest experience. The modern traveler has come to expect a certain level of personalization that saves them both time and energy while also making them feel special.

Many services have already identified ways to offer high levels of personalization to include airlines with new streamlined check-in processes and ride share apps like Uber, whose drivers can identify you by name when they pick you up. The hospitality industry needs to catch up.

In preparation for HITEC Europe 2019 which will cover these important industry trends, three members of the HITEC Europe Advisory Council were interviewed: Barry Thomas, CHTP; Michael Levie, CHTP and Timo Kittern. Read their thoughts on the direction of the hospitality technology.

HITEC Europe will take place April 9–11, 2019 at the Palau de Congressos in Mallorca, Spain.

Barry Thomas, CHTP, corporate director of information technology at Rosewood, will moderate a panel discussion at HITEC Europe 2019 that explores these new approaches to enhanced personalized service called “Guest Recognition in an Uber-esque Way While in Property.”

“We invest a lot in recognizing our guests’ return on their digital journey during the booking process,” says Thomas, “but what we are trying to change is how we do that at the property.

“It’s recognizing that you are an existing guest of ours. It is that recognition journey to make you feel valued because obviously we are competing for your business as a guest. So, we want to make your journey as seamless and as easy as possible.”

Read Barry Thomas’ entire interview on “Guest Recognition: Leveraging Technology to Deliver Enhanced Personalized Service.” with Hospitality Net’s Stuart Pallister.

Michael Levie, CHTP, chief operations officer at citizenM Hotels, echoes these sentiments. “Let’s face it, our guests travel frequently, they’re very tech savvy and they don’t see their smartphone as technology. It’s all about functionality. If they take an Uber it’s easy. If they take an airline, they can check in, they have everything available.”

Airlines and Uber are able to effectively personalize their services because they use their collected customer data more efficiently. Levie says that if the hospitality industry does not begin to handle its reliable data better, and keep it “clean and ready for use, then I think we will miss out on a lot of business opportunities.”

The data is there — businesses just need to figure out how they can use it to enrich the guest experience. “There’s a richness of information about our guests and their habits in the systems, yet there’s no way for us ever to bring that data to bear,” says Levie.

Levie proposes that by using dashboards instead of relying solely on the property management systems of old, hoteliers could gain a great deal of micro detail in addition to functionality.

Read Michael Levie’s entire interview on “Unlocking Business Potential: Building the Right Tech Architecture in Hospitality” with Hospitality Net’s Stuart Pallister.

So, you have all of this data — Is it safe to use? A better question in today’s industry climate would be, is it legal to use? New regulations in Europe come with hefty penalties for any firm who breaches the rules. Companies need to make sure they have the consent necessary to handle personal data and that they use this data responsibly.

Timo Kettern, director of information technology at Event Hotels, understands what it takes to be in compliance, particularly with the EU’s fairly new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

He was part of a HFTP working group that prepared for the introduction of GDPR last year and co-produced a couple of papers to help hoteliers come to terms with the new GDPR rules and the steps necessary to comply. These papers were presented at HITEC Amsterdam a year ago, and this year HITEC Europe 2019 attendees will review the progress that has been made.

Kettern has said that in the past year, authorities have focused on educating businesses about data protection rather than enforcement. However, he expects that a second wave of activity surrounding GDPR will come, bringing with it the possibility of further pursuit by authorities of potential breaches.

To ensure compliance, Kettern advises companies to make staff training a priority. “It is one thing to have the procedures documented and your systems in place,” he says, “but it’s the people who need to make those processes work.”

Read Timo Kettern’s entire interview on “Data Protection Rules, One Year On: Anticipating a Second Wave” with Hospitality Net’s Stuart Pallister.

There is a delicate balance between offering a personalized guest experience and protecting guest data and privacy. When you get it right, personalization is the perfect way to engage each guest in a meaningful way and keep them coming back.


Attend HITEC Europe 2019 for More on These Topics

Register to attend HITEC Europe this April 9–11, 2019 in the stunning destination of Palma, Mallorca, Spain. View the complete schedule to plan your agenda and get the details on sessions exploring guest recognition, data security and more. Make your reservations now for hotel and transportation.

While at HITEC Europe, be sure to attend the keynote presentation by award-winning global futurist Rohit Talwar. Learn more by reading Destination Unknowable — The Next Five Years of Business and Technology Disruptions.

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