When it comes to tight markets, hospitality has to be high on the list. This is a market where in many cases several competitors can be found within a mile radius of a current operation. Hotels have it especially bad here; there are only so many ways to distinguish “a bed for the night” from the competition. Hotels therefore are turning increasingly to analytics tools and big data options as a means to find the underlying patterns and apply this information as best as possible.
Analytics are providing a great value for hotels, allowing for the seemingly massive amounts of disparate information to be collected, analyzed, and condensed into actionable data in a fashion that allows hotels to best discover what works and what doesn't. Absolutdata CEO Anil Kaul refers to hotels as being in a “constant war of amenities,” and not every amenity works as well as others.
After engaging in analytics processes, hotels often find that some amenities are actually worth more than others; a dollar spent on Wi-Fi
coverage, for example, returns somewhere between $3.40 and $7 in extra spending. Great in isolation, but pale when compared against a free bottle of water for guests; that generates between $3.40 and $30. While the approaches used to calculate these numbers are still in development, it's worth having something concrete to use if for nothing else than a planning number.
Some amenities even have a time facet involved; certain amenities like exercise rooms don't necessarily draw more business in, but they do improve the chances of return business, as customers like knowing such a service is on hand should it prove desirable later on.
Amenities can be a very big deal for hotels; anyone else remember back when DoubleTree Hotels started offering the free warm cookie when guests walked in the door? This was a comparatively minor amenity, yet at the time, it was regarded as a quantum leap in making guests feel at home, like walking into Grandma's house and getting greeted with a cookie. To this day—around seven years later—it's still possible to put “Free cookie hotel” into Google and get returns for DoubleTree. That's how I found the name.
For that few cents' worth of dough, chocolate and walnuts, how many people said “Man, I'm coming back here next time!”? How many people said “I'm going to the cookie hotel!” when planning a trip? That kind of marketing value is worth its weight in cookies and then some, and the value of amenities is often a lot more than the cost that goes into these, and analytics teaches us just which amenities have the greatest impact.