Developing new services people truly want with text analytics

Illustration by Ana Duje.

In many ways, the hospitality industry has long been obsessed with the art of subtle details and well-choreographed experiences. The Ritz-Carlton, for example, was famously known for its globally standardized hotel experience—coordinating and synchronizing everything from interior design to the staff’s vocabulary. And yet as hospitality brands wrestle for visibility in an increasingly crowded industry, they often struggle to discern the valuable details and intricacies nestled within their unstructured data. By doing so, they forgo a treasure trove of opportunities to develop simple, high-margin services and products that could dramatically improve their guest experience—and their bottom line.

Text analytics tools provide the analytical horsepower and the highly trained algorithms that hospitality brands need to break down the silos, cut through the noise and get to the great ideas. Once those great ideas are found, sentiment analysis metrics help brands test, iterate and fine-tune new services in response to real-time feedback and reviews.
Here’s why text analytics can be such a powerful tool in the development, testing and co-creation of innovative new hospitality products or services.

Reason 1: People are literally telling you what they want

It’s been proven time and time again that consumers are willing to share valuable information about their demographics, their preferences and their consumption habits, but they expect something in return: an improved experience with your brand. In fact, numbers show that 80 percent of consumers are willing to share personal data if they receive offers or benefits such as reward points or well-curated recommendations. So it has become more than necessary to decipher consumers’ wants and needs in order to continuously come up with the creative perks and benefits that will keep them around. The good news is guests and potential customers are more than willing to tell exactly what they want.

In many ways, text analytics tools act like highly sophisticated versions of the “suggestion boxes” you once found in your dentist’s office or scattered across your workplace. But by processing and analyzing large quantities of unstructured data in real time, text analytics tools are able to consolidate multiple valuable data sources and provide context with a speed and unbiased accuracy only possible thanks to the latest breakthroughs in deep learning and AI. As algorithms learn to discern the nuances in the audience’s channels and linguistics, they also separate feedback into categories.

Text analytics is the direct pathway to great new services guests actually want.

Text analytics is the direct pathway to great new services guests actually want. Often, common criticisms can be addressed with quick fixes, which have the potential to turn into value-added premium products or services that can be implemented at little cost.

Reason 2: People will tell you (quickly) when you’re wrong

To adapt to a much quicker pace of change and innovation, the hospitality industry has looked to other industries for tried-and-tested technologies and methodologies. One practice that’s been adopted is “failing fast,” which comes from the startup world and encourages innovative teams to propel interesting ideas up the implementation and testing funnel in order to rapidly identify and expand on the ones that bubble up to the top—all the while minimizing the losses from those that don’t. It’s been well recorded that the world’s most successful brands run thousands of failed experiments every year. For example, Intuit averages 1300, Procter & Gamble between 7000 and 10,000, Google 7000, and Netflix 1000.

In order for the experiments to bear fruit, each of the companies needs the capacity to understand, contextualize and quantify huge bodies of unstructured feedback from multiple channels and experiments at a time. Only with these insights can brands truly evaluate the potential and impact of new products and services.

By providing real-time analysis of unstructured feedback and brand sentiment metrics, text analytics tools give companies early visibility into how guests and potential customers are reacting to new services or approaches. As trends emerge, development teams can rapidly decide whether to nip an idea in the bud, pivot it in a new direction or tweak it slightly to keep improving it. As the best ideas make their way through every new level of testing and iteration, departments are able to dramatically shorten their development cycle while minimizing costs and constantly churning through fresh batches of precious feedback and ideas. That, in turn, means they’re able to offer exciting new perks to their guests much faster—giving them a first-mover advantage and the opportunity to delight and surprise guests before expectations change again.

Reason 3: Co-create new services with your guests

While the hospitality industry has always juggled with the subtleties of balancing warm human interactions with privacy, new trends and technologies are pushing industry professionals to now consider the balance between careful curation and autonomy.

According to the Deloitte article “Next gen hotel guests have checked in”, “this change—from a hotel offering pay-per-view movies to a hotel providing free high-speed Internet that enables guests to manage their own entertainment content—is only one example of the larger trend toward the hotel as ‘enabler’ of a ‘partnership ecosystem’ that extends beyond its walls. This principle is seen in the “choreographer” integrator type within our perspective on the hotel of the future.”

57 percent of American travelers want brands to use their data to create personalized travel recommendations

Leveraging technology and data to foster autonomy is just another way of catering to an increasing consumer desire for customization and personalized experiences. In fact, numbers show that 57 percent of American travelers want brands to use their data to create personalized travel recommendations, while 36 percent would be willing to pay more for the additional service. This gives the hospitality industry a unique opportunity to identify and curate complimentary services based on an entire ecosystem of brands and experiences that connect to theirs in a multitude of ways.

With every new add-on and complementary feature you try, a powerful text analytics tool can easily keep a constant eye on specific themes, keywords and topics in order to track the emotional impact of the small touches and details. Are you noticing an upward shift in comments about your location now that you’ve introduced your guests to that hidden spot around the block? Powerful algorithms are perfectly equipped to help you evaluate which features and services are resonating with your guests and tangibly moving the needle, and which are better left behind.

Hungry for more? We’ve just completed a deep dive into the ways text analytics can serve the hospitality industry by improving companies’ abilities to adapt to new customer demands, tap into audience insights and come up with new products that will help their brand stand apart. Read our new Hospitality guide Improve your guest satisfaction with text analytics for more.

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