How can hotels increase guest satisfaction, drive revenue, reviews, repeaters and reduce costs? Exclusivi, one of the winners at the MITEF Greece Startup Competition and winner of INTRASOFT International’s Innovation Award for 2017, is challenging the hospitality sector.
A big challenge is arising as the lodging industry struggles to remain relevant with their guest’s preferences in a competitive and crowded landscape. There is a big data revolution underway as managers understand that having access to information makes hotels more efficient and ultimately more profitable! There are available data sets about the guests expected to check in tomorrow morning with their own set of expectations and hotels can use them to engage with their guests, understand their behavior, act on it in the right way and influence their purchasing habits.
Having Greece as a case study, the team of Exclusivi estimated that during a specific period each visitor spends on average 45% less than his counterparts in Spain, and 20% less than those in Cyprus. Shopping, dining, activities or excursions are still sold offline and hotels rarely capture part of the revenue. “Recent data show that the average expenditure per visitor was 589 euros in Greece, against 1,065 euros in Spain and 735 euros in Cyprus (June 2017). These data indicated the upside potential that an end-to-end upselling platform, like Exclusivi, could offer to the key stakeholders in the tourism. In Greece alone, taking consumption of €2.2 daily/room outside hotels represents a €100mn opportunity for the local economy.”
Valuable data points (like food & beverage consumption, stay preferences, average spending per country/operator, feedback on hotel services etc.) sit isolated across multiple platforms (booking engines/ channel managers/ property management systems/ internal feedback at hotels). Double-clicking on this challenge, the team talked with stakeholders in the tourism value chain and discovered that this is also a key objective for Destination Management Companies and Tour Operators, responsible for the bulk of inbound tourism in resort areas. Moving forward, Exclusivi’s team spotted various overlapping efforts and decided to break the data silos by bringing under one interface the offerings of hotels, tour operators and local businesses; enabling guests to discover and enjoy curated services and personalized experiences. “It seems that the market was ready for such an end-to-end solution, as in less than 12 months we managed to get on-board 4 leading hotel chains and 4 of the biggest destination management companies, that control the 50% of inbound tourists in our beachhead market, Crete.”
Active Listening: An amazing source of product innovation
Various conversations with leading Greek hoteliers sparked discussions on the Exclusivi team that brings together expertise in FMCG Marketing, Telco services design and SaaS products development. In late 2016, with their solution under development and no tangible results, getting the first paid customers was really challenging. “We managed to overcome those difficulties by leveraging one single tactic: active listening. We engaged with hoteliers in global travel expos, discovered their key pain points and built early-on features that were solving their problems from day one.”
Moreover, in order to get hotel staff on board fast, Exclusivi placed international interns in their customer hotels via a partnership with AIESEC. This proved instrumental in addressing technical issues on the spot, generating rich local content and designing a series of “growth hacks”, which were later re-applied across their network. As a result, their app download rate exceeded 35% (with the industry norm below 15%) and, most importantly, the average daily Food & Beverage spending of app users was +40% higher than the average of non-app users.
Exclusivi changes the role of key stakeholders in tourism development
Market research analysis resulted in a platform with easy, engaging and fun interfaces, that collects, analyses, aggregates, and exchanges the wealth of data provided by the key stakeholders’ systems. With powerful integrations and content partnerships, Exclusivi enhances critical business relationships and consolidates content and APIs from Hotels, Destination Management Companies, and Local Vendors, providing a seamless guest experience while driving conversions. The result is delivering to customers customized visual discoveries with mobile, WiFi & TV apps, powerful integrations, CRM designed from the ground-app for the hospitality industry and leveraging granular guest analytics.
Your guest may be a vegan who is allergic to chickpea and needs The New York Times at breakfast. He may be a wine-lover entrepreneur searching for outdoor activities or cultural events. AI helps hotels know how to communicate with a certain type of guest based on their profile. So whether it is building loyalty or getting an upsell opportunity on premises, the marketing campaigns have to be targeted using AI such that the former can claim a voucher on spa and the latter a rock climbing on their next stays. Conclusion? Hoteliers need to embrace some fast-moving innovation in order to deliver customized travel experience and keep up with consumer demand.
After winning the 2nd place at the MITEF Greece Startup Competition 2017, the team now focuses on bringing as many hotels and partners on their platform in order to turn their data to actionable insights, while leveraging machine learning for building recommender system that can suggest and deliver amazing personalized experiences. Leveraging fresh funding from the Datapitch.eu initiative, the team will ramp up the Machine Learning/AI-based work for building a state-of-the-art recommender system and vacation planner and automated customer service suite for hoteliers. “Our model nicely fits in other resort clusters in Spain, Portugal, Cyprus or Turkey, which are our next target markets. The results we achieved during the summer of 2017 have a dramatic impact in our sales cycle, as we now manage to close deals with new hotel chains in the course of a few weeks, as opposed to a few months last year.”