How Customer Data Platforms Could Fit Into Your Marketing Strategy

By Theo Holloway, CHDM, Senior Director Loyalty, Customer Engagement at Best Western Hotels & Resorts, HSMAI Marketing Advisory Board Member

The way we use our first-party data can transform how we craft and execute our marketing strategy. There are many tools and platforms in the marketplace that can help us collect, manage, and creatively leverage our data. One relatively new area to explore is customer data platforms (CDPs).

According to the CDP Institute, a CDP is “packaged software that creates a persistent, unified customer database that is accessible to other systems.” The software is most often purchased and used by marketers, although IT teams may still need to set up and maintain it, and it is said to be easy to update as new needs develop. CDPs also pull data from other systems and link the data to the customer to create a more robust profile, among other capabilities.

As we continue to look for ways to streamline processes and be more efficient — all while staying compliant to ever-changing rules around data usage — using CDPs may be an option marketers are starting to consider.

Recently, the HSMAI Marketing Advisory Board discussed the various aspects of CDPs and the methods they thought hotel marketing professionals could use at work to better understand and interact with their customers.

Lookalike Models

“We tap into clients’ CDPs all the time, and download the data they have access to, along with the different categorizations they have tied to their records, such as whether they’re a loyalty member, how many stays they’ve had, how much money they’ve spent in the last year, what type of party they traveled with, what region of the country they traveled from, and so on. With the deprecation of the cookie, the collection of first-party data is so important because we could take that information, plug it into our DMP and build lookalike models around whatever cohort they want to build for the next iteration of their marketing campaign. They can find a lot more people to send to, and because of the data, they know when to reach the customers, what kind of media they consume, what kind of imagery and copy they’re going to respond to, etc. It’s a rich way to leverage the CDP and all the data that comes with it.”

Real-Time Location-Based Personalization

“Most of my career’s been at complex, large resorts where you’re trying to drive revenue for a variety of businesses all on one campus. You can use real-time location-based personalization to pull relevant location information such as weather and layer it over the profile of the customer using predictive modeling rules. When you have a complex product you’re presenting and a lot of complexity to your storytelling, the opportunity to get this specific with the messaging is fascinating.”

Loyalty Incentive Selection

“This year, we are reimagining how we do loyalty. We largely own and operate most of our hotels and offer a lot on the experience side. One-third of our revenues come from ancillary sides of the business, whether that’s our food and beverage, golf or spa. As we look at what a newly imagined loyalty program is, it will largely be based on experiences and driving ancillary revenue. From an incentive selection standpoint, we’re looking to merge and take the data from all these disparate spa, golf and membership systems, and feed them into the CDP. This will allow us to then use email marketing or other vehicles to digitally target the customer and help grow revenue.”

Agent Access to Individual Profiles

“Agent access to individual profiles puts this powerful data into the hands of our associates who are going to be talking to guests. A lot of what we do is really about human experience, and we want that guest to not only engage with us digitally but have a great experience on the property. Giving our associates access to this data opens more interesting ways to build customer retention and that lifetime customer value.”

Feature Notifications

“At my company, everything we do is via push notifications. And if you ever used our app before and are looking for a specific destination, flight or hotel, we send notifications straight to the user’s lock screen. What that allows us to do is see exactly what people are searching for and give them a heads up that prices dropped, there are new amenities at the hotel, or there are mass mandates or restrictions in travel they should know about.”

Measure Campaign Effectiveness

“We work with a lot of branded hotels, and what we would like to see is the full ROI of our campaigns. The more ROI we can show our owners, the more money they’re willing to spend on these campaigns. We’re working with the brands to see if we can track people who book through one of our campaigns and learn how much money they’re spending at hotel restaurants, golf, spas, and all that. That ROI should still go toward the campaign bucket and not just the room night stay.”

Identify Channel Preferences

“Our loyalty base on the gaming side is super important. We communicate with them through a multitude of channels, whether it’s direct mail, email, SMS, or the app. We also do targeted social media marketing, as well as a more general resort email blast. It’s crucial to understand, at that individual level, what their preferences are in receiving communication from us and which channels are more impactful.”

Abandoned Cart Campaigns

“What I want to focus on this year is improving our conversion rates in our direct channel. I want to be more efficient with our marketing and our targeting. I think a CDP is going to allow me to do all of that and more in terms of helping close the conversion gap for people who are taking certain steps, but maybe not quite finishing up. Maybe that includes giving them a message that’s highly relevant by layering in some of the topics we can see they’re already interested in or any behaviors they’re taking on our site or offsite.”

Real-Time Offer Selection

“One big question for us is, once we get them in our store or on our site, how do we continue that personalization? How do we continue to learn from their behaviors, and what can we use to attract them and keep them coming back? The focus is on retention and stopping churn and getting more personalized in our messages to customers.”

Categories: Marketing, Competitive Intelligence
Insight Type: Articles