Unlocking Hyper-Personalization: 5 Strategies for Leveraging First-Party Data in Hospitality

Jessie Radcliff, CRME, Director of Revenue Management & Marketing, Perdido Beach Resort, HSMAI Rising Marketing Leader Council Member 

The hospitality industry continues to witness a significant shift towards personalized guest experiences and enhanced loyalty programs. According to Forbes, loyalty programs are evolving beyond the traditional one-size-fits-all model, catering to individual purchasing behaviors (Fromm, 2024). With 73% of shoppers expecting brands to understand their needs (HSMAI, 2024) and 90% of consumers now expecting tailored experiences (Skift, 2018), personalization has become more than just a strategy—it is a commitment to understanding and serving customers on a deeper level.  

Hyper-personalization is a comprehensive understanding of individual preferences, behaviors, and expectations, empowering hotels to not only meet but surpass guest expectations throughout the customer journey. Hotels are now leveraging first-party data, advanced technologies, and automation paired with a balance of human touch and cross-team collaboration to tailor email marketing, loyalty programs, and on-property communications to achieve hyper-personalization. This data-driven approach is reshaping the future of the hospitality industry and may be a key to sustaining customer loyalty. I discussed this with my peers in the HSMAI Rising Marketing Leaders Council meeting recently. Here are our 5 takeaways. 

1. Email Marketing 

The journey to personalization begins with effective communication, particularly through email marketing. We’re challenged in balancing the frequency and content of emails to avoid saturation while still engaging the audience. For instance, one member shared how including personalized elements such as the recipient’s name or tailoring emails based on past interactions can significantly increase engagement rates. However, another member mentioned that limitations in their marketing platform often pose challenges in achieving this level of customization. Despite these hurdles, their goal was to deliver content that resonates with the guests’ preferences and interests, whether it be through intentional imagery, upcoming events, or exclusive offers. 

2. Enhancing the Entire Guest Journey 

The scope of personalization extends beyond email marketing, touching every phase of the guest experience. From the moment of booking, tools like dynamic pop-ups can guide user behavior, encouraging direct bookings and upselling services. We also discussed that seasonal customization of websites and targeted advertisements based on demographics can be effective in drawing guests’ attention and fostering a connection even before they arrive. 

An innovative approach mentioned involves using AI to adapt communication based on the guest’s language preference, as identified during the booking process. This level of attention to detail not only enhances the guest experience but also bridges potential communication gaps, making guests feel valued and understood. 

3. The Power of Segmentation and Tailored Offers 

Understanding guest preferences allows for more targeted room promotions and offers. By segmenting guests based on their previous bookings or preferences, hotels can send personalized follow-ups, from anniversary emails celebrating a past stay to tailored offers that match their known preferences. This strategy not only increases the likelihood of repeat bookings but also strengthens the relationship between the brand and its guests. 

4. Ensuring Promises are Kept 

The effectiveness of any personalization strategy ultimately depends on the collaboration across all hotel departments. From marketing to guest services, the implementation of personalized initiatives requires a coordinated effort to ensure that the promises made through marketing are fulfilled throughout the guest’s stay. In some cases, this process is surprisingly manual, underscoring the importance of clear communication and detailed standard operating procedures. 

5. Leveraging Technology for Personalization 

To support these personalized initiatives, many hotels are turning to new technology solutions. Platforms like Zingle offer text messaging functions that allow guests to communicate their arrival times and receive personalized messages about property offerings. Another tool, Oaky, facilitates pre-arrival communications, enabling properties to upsell or highlight specific features to guests based on their booking details. 

By leveraging first-party data, AI, and targeted marketing strategies, hotels can create more personalized, engaging, and satisfying experiences. 

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Questions for Your Team  

  • How is your company leveraging first-party data to personalize email marketing offers? How do you ensure that you are intentional and not over-engaging? 
  • What marketing strategies or tools is your team currently using to enhance and better personalize the guest experience throughout the customer journey? 
  • How does your company incorporate personalization into room promotions and offers, and what insights have you gained from observing strategies implemented by other hotels? 
  • How does your company foster collaboration between all departments (Marketing, IT, Front Desk, Guest Service, etc.) to ensure seamless implementation and delivery of personalized initiatives across the organization? 
  • Does your company integrate personalization into its loyalty program, or have you observed any hotels effectively implementing this approach? 
  • Has your company recently implemented or invested in any technology solutions to help automate the creation of personalized communications and guest segmentation? Additionally, does your company utilize a Customer Data Platform (CDP) or other real-time data tool to aid in automating and updating guest profiles and communications within your CRM system? 

Categories: Marketing
Insight Type: Articles