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  • Writer's pictureRyan Haynes

Hotel Partner - How INua Collection uses guest data

In another of our Hotel Partner series, we look at how The iNUA Collection uses guest data to improve operations, enjoy efficiencies and develop guest experiences for commercial growth. We are joined by Dylan Cole, Managing Director EMEA, Revinate and Emer Hallahan, Group Head of Marketing & Ecommerce, Cliste Hospitality and The iNUA Collection. Revinate is a Guest Data Platform and guest communication solutions used by over 12,000 hotels worldwide. Cliste Hospitality is one of the largest operators and managers of hospitality venues in Ireland with 13 hotels and 1,200 rooms with a range of bars, restaurants, spas, and meeting and convention spaces. The iNUA Collection is a select group of 4 & 5 Star hotels each uniquely inspired by its team of passionate people, rich culture, and stunning surrounding landscapes. In this discussion we cover;

  • Delivering better experiences and assisting hotel operations

  • Systems for hoteliers to harness guest data

  • The commercial impact

  • Staff engagement

  • What’s next for guest data

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Programme Notes


This episode has been automatically transcribed by AI, please excuse any typos or grammatical errors


Ryan Haynes:

Hello and welcome, To Travel Market Life. And this is part of the Hotel Partner series where we are looking at how a newer Collection uses guest data. We're going to be speaking to Dylan Cole, Managing Director EMEA of Revinate, a guest data platform and guest communication solutions used by over 12,000 hotels worldwide. And Emer Hallahan, Group Head of Marketing & Ecommerce, Cliste Hospitality and The iNUA Collection. Collection Lister Hospitality is one of the largest operators and managers of hospitality venues in Ireland with 13 hotels and 1,200 rooms, including a range of bars, restaurants, bars, and meeting and convention spaces. A new collection is a select group of four or five-star hotels each uniquely inspired by its team of passionate people, rich culture, and stunning surrounding landscapes.


Ryan Haynes:

In our conversation today, we're going to be looking at the role of guest data, delivering better experiences and assisting hotel operations, the systems that harness guest data, the commercial impact of staff engagement, and what's next for guest data.


Ryan Haynes:

So, joining me first is Dylan. Thank you ever so much for coming along today to talk to me about the guest data journey for hotels. Now, first-party data is all the talk at the moment. Why is first-party data so important?


Dylan Cole:

Thanks, for having me Ryan, I really appreciate it. First-party data, we talk about it all the time in the office and with our customers, and there are a few reasons why it's important. One reason that we all can't deny is that Apple, Google, and Mozilla, all the big players in the browser space where you're, you know, going on the internet, they're ending third-party cookies and they keep teasing us, this is going to happen. We're not exactly sure when it will finally take place, but if you don't have first-party data under control, you're going to basically lose the opportunity or ability to properly market to your guests. The other part of it, which is impacting hoteliers now, or any marketer for that matter, is that having first-party data allows you to do really effective marketing.


Dylan Cole:

There's a study by Mackenzie, 70% of consumers are more likely to make a repeat purchase if the messaging is tailored to them or designed based on the first-party data that you have about them. So really keep that in mind.


Ryan Haynes:

As you say. I mean, you know, we've been purchasing third-party data for lookalike audiences and doing mailing campaigns of all sorts across OTAs. And as you say, the search engines like Google and Google Ads. As I said, having owned your own data allows you to deep dive into that. And you're not compromising, I guess, you know, guest data at the same time, but as you say, make your strategies and, and marketing campaigns much more personalized. In what way are you seeing guests or hoteliers use guest data to deliver those better experiences and also assist in hotel operations?


Dylan Cole:

Yeah, so there are a few ways that we see hotels using the data. Some things as simple as a pre-arrival email look different based on who the guest is. Some of the other points that I think aren't as well thought about are and this benefits the hotel too, but it should benefit the guest ultimately is if you have clean data and you have access to your first-party data, you should be able to provide the right offers to the right guests. And I'll give you an example. If you have a high spender and you see they're always booking the luxury suite, do you really need to send them the 15% off flash sale? Is that a smart move for them to then think of your brand in a lower way potentially, or for you to lose money on that guest so it can affect their experience, but also hurt your bottom line if you're doing that kind of marketing?


Dylan Cole:

So, I think those are some good examples there. And then you asked about operationally, well, if you have clean data, which is always and continues to be a challenge for hoteliers, then you can put that into use in the customer-facing part of the guest experience where you're welcoming them back or being able to speak to them in an informed manner when they're, they're checking in or on property. I think there are some really basic ways to use that data.


Ryan Haynes:

So, let's look at the systems then for the hotel industry because you know, it is quite a unique industry and you know, there are, you know, many other sorts of data systems out there. Why is the hotel sys hotel industry so unique and what sort of systems should they be considering harnessing that guest data?


Dylan Cole:

We think about the CRM and so we think about how we ultimately bring all your data from these different sources together, clean it and allow the hoteliers to take action on it. But if I sort of take that out into the next step of other products, hotels should be thinking about, first of all, your PMS is where all this data starts. So hopefully they're thinking about friendly PMS vendors that offer connections to other systems like us and others and then other places and other systems that allow you to also grab guest information and first-party data and bring it into a system like Revinate. So, some of the ones I think about are systems like chatbots, like Ask Suite or HiJiffy. These are some friendly partners of ours that have chatbots on the website that are constantly collecting guest intent data or, and email addresses, obviously websites, signups, are easy, but you want to get those in from the website too and have that designed in a manner that is capturing that data.


Dylan Cole:

Wi-Fi logins, website, optimisation tools like Trip Tee and Hotels Network. There are some really good platforms out there to optimize the website. And then obviously making sure those partners are thinking about being able to pass that data over into a system like Revinate. So, we can compile it with yours, we can bring it all together, clean it up so you actually have that full nice view of that first party.


Ryan Haynes:

Data. Wonderful. Now I really want to hear from a hotelier who's actually been utilizing guest data to their commercial advantage. Yeah. So, joining us on the line now is Emer Hallahan from Cliste Hospitality. Thanks ever so much for sharing your story with us today. Can you tell us, please, Emer, why did you select Revinate and how is it used particularly I understand within the newer collection?


Emer Hallahan:

Well, Firstly, thank you Ryan and Dylan for having me join you guys on this chat. So, I suppose where we came to with our iNUA Collection hotels in selecting Revinate as our chosen partner for CRM. It was really about three key things. I suppose initially when I arrived, I was the first marketing hire at Cliste Hospitality and email marketing CRM was basically unknown in the company. So, we wanted a partner who could do everything for us and who could fill that gap of internal resources that we weren't in a place to fill internally, you know? Secondly then GDPR, it is a huge thing for anyone who's in marketing in the EU.


Emer Hallahan:

They'll know that it, you know, it's mandatory for us. In selecting a partner, Revinate really reassured us that the data was going to be completely compliant and that our use of that data in remarketing would be completely compliant. And then thirdly, kind of touching off what Dylan was just talking about, integration was massive for us. So again, we were in the startup phase, we didn't have as many hotels as what we do now. And with the team being so small, we really wanted something that could dig into every tool that we had in the business and automatically bring that data back in centrally to a CRM system. So, integration with their PMS integration, with their Wi-Fi systems, with our fitness club systems, with our spa booking systems.


Emer Hallahan:

And so was that any touch point that we had with the guest, automatically their email data was being brought back into that one central place. So that really for us was Revinate was offered all the, the ease of use, basically.


Ryan Haynes:

Yeah, absolutely. Fascinating. Particularly as you say that you not only have to sort of bring that change and approach to marketing and actually bring in some of these aspects to engage directly with your bookers, but then also to be able to have the time to be able to understand, you know, your guests and, and what's happening within the property and the revenue generation there. What has been the commercial impact of getting that greater transparency of GA data?


Emer Hallahan:

So, I suppose if we're talking purely in numbers, we have generated over 8 million euros of room revenue directly from our email marketing on revenue eight over the past 24 months. Phenomenal number. And when you break that down per property, it is a massive revenue impact on the business. It may not be our highest revenue-generating marketing channel, but it is, without doubt, our top channel for I that financially is the commercial impact. I suppose the other major commercial impact, which some people find hard to quantify, but for us, it's the gold mine of data that we have untapped via our partnership with Revinate. So, we now have over a million profiles on our group CRM database.


Emer Hallahan:

When we commenced 24 months ago, this was just under half a million. And all of those profiles were completely untapped. It's a gold mine of data, we knew it was there, but we weren't making any use of it. So, opening our business up to all of that data, and as Dylan mentioned, the fact that third-party cookies are disappearing fairly rapidly, having those 1 million profiles firsthand to us that's there's, yeah, it, it's far greater than the 8 million of euros of that that we can calculate.


Ryan Haynes:

Excellent. And now, I mean you, you, what have you been able to do now? What capabilities that you have that you didn't have before?


Emer Hallahan:

So, I suppose that the primary piece that we have focused on and the impact, and you know, our, our strategy with RevPAR eight was to drive an elevated customer experience. So, you know, we see thousands of hotels on Instagram, on Facebook, on TikTok every day. You get served ads by, I don't know how many brands off Google or whatever other search engine you prefer to use, but for us, it was really about personalization. And so with revenue, we have been able to, you know, dig down into our, our data and not just look at it as an umbrella million personas, but look at the trends and the type of experiences that guests are looking for.


Emer Hallahan:

We can send out post-day surveys to our guests, we can start tracking all of their preferences on their profiles. And so being able to drill down into the specific details of what every single guest prefers and then communicating to them based on their needs and desires and what individually motivates them as a guest. That's, you know, that for us has just been a massive learning curve and a massive help to our business.


Ryan Haynes:

I was going to say, you know, the next question was what did you learn in deployment? And Dylan did mention this thing about cleaning data. Did you have that experience and what other aspects of that implementation did you learn some significant insights into the business?


Emer Hallahan:

Yeah, so I suppose, yeah, the implementation phase, certainly involved an infinite amount of learning for us. I personally, I suppose as with a lot of marketing professionals come from a background where data and clean data are Bible. But you know, I suppose working in an industry like hospitality and no discredit to it, it is more of a traditional industry. People aren't very familiar with data and it, we had I suppose a mix of colleagues from people who didn't know what CRM stood for, you know, so clean data alone was like level two, but we really set out from the beginning, so explaining what's the purpose of this? What is CRM, what's the value of simply asking a guest on check-in, can you have their email address?


Emer Hallahan:

And being able to demonstrate to our colleagues that there is a value to every single email address that we can, we can collect. That was, I suppose that was a major learning to start with. So, understanding that perhaps the knowledge level within the business wasn't there and it was perhaps just a lack of education and engagement around the importance of data. That was our first piece. And then like, you know, I suppose we have gotten to a place now of wider business learning around clean data and, but definitely number one it was, it was just understanding that everyone around the business on is on different levels of understanding of the importance of data and Revinate offering that simple solution.


Emer Hallahan:

Yeah,


Ryan Haynes:

I mean you, what you can see there is that some people see it as an additional administrative task without really understanding the purpose behind it. And so, what you've gone through is that educational approach with your team to make sure that they fully understand that value, as you've just explained, across all team members, across all the levels within the organization. Is that right?


Emer Hallahan:

Yes, completely. So, I suppose, you know, we, we started off, we took it as let's break this down into a small project. When we saw that we had this touching on half a million unclean profiles, you know, that's a massive task. And I think that it's probably, that's what creates fear in people in stepping into the world of CRM. So, we broke it down hotel by hotel and, we chose one of our hotel teams as the lucky one to start with. Pilot Revinate. With And. we took learnings from there down to, you know, what, what are the basics that people want to understand? And in an extremely busy hotel operation, how much time do they actually have to dedicate to CRM on a daily basis?


Emer Hallahan:

And instead of all of these complex forms of us looking at it, you know, in terms of, right, if we're asking to build out a CRM profile, it's not about getting every minute detail down to this is the type of wine that they like to drink. Literally, we decided, right, the learning curve is well on check-in, we just want an email address. And you do not need to ask for anything else If you ask for their name and their email address and you hand them their key card, that's job done for us.


Dylan Cole:

Ryan. Can I say something I think you and I had a conversation about this at IHTF and I think one of the things that I shouldn't show my frustration here so much, but sometimes we'll have a call where somebody says to me like, I need to know if my guest likes their martini with a lime or a lemon in it. Like, that's what I need my CRM to do. I don't even know if that's a great example, but you get to my point. But at the same time that hotelier can't definitively tell me how many guests they've had in their property that stayed more than three times. What you should really be focused on focusing on is the basics of like, do you know the foundational stuff of like how many repeat guests you have, what are your top markets?


Dylan Cole:

Can you pull those markets together segment them and use them? So, I really do feel like there are some people who need to refocus and get the basics down before they try to go to that next, that next place.


Ryan Haynes:

Yeah, it sounds like rather than throw everything in it at once, you know, make sure you've got a strategy of implementation of development and usage of the systems so that you're actually maximizing what you can out of it. And you know, as you say, Emer, you know, making sure that you've got your team behind you on the ground who's able to put this data into the system. Because essentially either you are going be grabbing the data from what the guests provide you digitally or through the purchases that they're making, or it has to be from the interactions and the guest service that the team is, is providing now Emer with 13 hotels and growing, what's the next evolution of guest engagement and communications for Cliste?


Emer Hallahan:

So, I suppose for us, you know, we're well past that point now of asking just for that email address. So, we have gotten to that next level. We have cleaned up all our data. So the next step is definitely continued segmentation and you know, now we can segment guests based on their behaviours, their locations, their family status, you know, and we've come to a point where, yes, we have, we now have that data of we can add their martini preference to their profile, but it's not the first and foremost thing that's going to drive our c r m strategy for us. But being able to segment down guests by geolocations, by their loyalty tiers, that for us, and continuing on that as third-party cookies fade out and the value of first-party data grows, it's all about segmented.


Emer Hallahan:

Really get to a place where it's micro sends outs to really segmented groups of guests with specific offers, specific messaging and content that relates specifically to them and their personality. Definitely, next step in our partnership with Revinate is also SMS. So, emails opened huge doors to us and you know, SMS is definitely, open rates are even higher than email. And I think it's also building that relationship. We've gotten into people's inboxes and now we want to get into their WhatsApp. This week we actually have had a group CRM executive join our team, which is like a massive milestone for us. There you go.


Emer Hallahan:

Because we now have someone dedicated within the marketing team who's going to run Revinate for us and who's going to bring our strategy to the next level. We wouldn't have been able to hire that resource without being able to show the business the value of CRM and without Revinate software, which brought us from a startup scenario where we didn't have investment to now being at a level, where we've grown the business and we've also seen the growth that CRM has supported and now it's, it's a central part of our strategy.


Ryan Haynes:

Can I ask then, Emer, I mean, why did you pick Revinate and not someone that's well known as HubSpot and Salesforce? I mean, they're, they're utilized by so many companies as a CRM. Why did Revinate seem the best fit for a hotel?


Emer Hallahan:

Well, I suppose I come from my side of hospitality and have never worked in a hotel before. So, all I had worked well with was the HubSpot of the world. But you know, hotels are a very specific business. The personalization that you have to offer to a guest is extremely specific. It's nothing like retail, its experience, its service, it's not product. You also have, as I say, all of the integrations that came with Revinate that for us, really was a massive deal breaker. you know, as I mentioned, our hotel teams are a hundred percent tied up in operations. They don't have time to be feeding these systems.


Ryan Haynes:

Now, Dylan, what advancements are we going to see in the coming years around guest engagement?


Dylan Cole:

We're definitely introducing other channels. So, text messaging is a big part of our evolution. And we actually are bringing our phone systems over to Europe and we'll be doing that towards the end of this year. And that's basically a central reservations system that allows people to manage a call centre. Also, as the agents receive a call, they can see CRM data about the guests and know who they are, and then if the guest doesn't book, they end up being retargeted through the marketing team. So, we're actually doing more official partnerships with F&B systems, and spa systems.


Ryan Haynes:

Excellent. And now Emer, what advice can you give to hoteliers to get on top of their guest data and use a CRM effectively?


Emer Hallahan:

I suppose my main piece of advice to hoteliers is that you know, your customer experience could not be of more importance. And right now, first-party data is everything for marketing. And I think co-hoteliers really need to get on top of that. It's now or never.


Ryan Haynes:

Excellent. Guys, thank you ever so much for that input. I know I could talk to you a lot longer about the guest data and how you've been utilizing it within my favourite topic marketing, but we'll have to get you back in at some point and delve deeper into some of these issues. Thanks again for joining us here on Travel. Market Life.


Dylan Cole:

Thanks, Ryan.


Emer Hallahan:

Thanks Ryan.


Ryan Haynes:

You can check out more Hotel Partner episodes on our podcast channel, Travel Market Life, where we've spoken to Louvre Hotels, Journey Hospitality and Virgin Hotels about the systems that they use. Also, we have just launched season three of Hoteliers Voice. Check out some of those episodes too, where we are currently speaking to Best Western and Columbia Beach Resort. I'm your host, Ryan Haynes. Thanks for listening. Ciao for now.

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