Finetuning Your Hotel’s Optimisation & Personalisation Strategy


By Derek Tangren, Adobe

This year marked my 10th Adobe Summit, and it was one of the best I’ve been to. There was so much interest in optimization and personalization strategies. We talked about new and exciting ways marketers can interact with customers. For instance, I shared with the audience how I have taken hundreds of pictures of my sons’ toys over the years. It’s never been easier to share — and even personalize — those photos before today! And, the same applies to marketers.

This point was brought home during a session I had with MGM Resorts International’s vice president of revenue optimization, Geoff Waldmiller. I shared results from the Hotels 2020: Beyond Segmentation survey of hospitality executives from Fast Future and Amadeus. Ninety-two percent of those surveyed acknowledged that, in the future, “hotel guests will expect their stay to be personalized around a set of choices they make at the time of booking or prior to arrival.”

Hoteliers must be able to meet those expectations.

One of Geoff’s and the MGM team’s tasks is to attract some of the 42+ million (and growing) Las Vegas visitors each year. Approximately 85 percent of those travelers are repeat visitors, so they have local experience; but per-person visits occur only once or twice per year. There is a high experience rate but not a lot of expertise. So, MGM must educate visitors about their hospitality, gambling, dining, and entertainment options.

Geoff continued, explaining they found that 97 percent of lodging decisions are made before arriving in Las Vegas, while only 40 percent of gambling and 33 percent of entertainment decisions are made prior to arriving. These conditions present an opportunity to impact 60 percent or better of the decisions made while visitors are in the area.

Once they get visitors to their properties, they can offer world-class experiences and impact future lodging decisions through personalized digital experiences. This kind of optimization can have significant impacts on driving traffic to their resorts and enhancing the physical experiences visitors have while there.

Behavioral-Based Targeting With Geo-Fencing
According to Amadeus IT Group’s 2013 report, At the Big Data Crossroads, 4 in 10 travelers are willing to share data in the interest of personalization. They want to be served personalized digital experiences to support their actual vacation experiences.

So, if MGM Resorts knows its customer is in Vegas, for example, then Geoff’s team wants to deliver a personalized experience at a more granular level while they are onsite. Can they identify whether a visitor is in the Bellagio? Yes! Geo-fencing gives marketers an opportunity to locate their audience members. One method, using Adobe Target, takes only four short steps to identify, connect, and engage with consumers when they are on the move:

  1. Determine coordinates/locations for geo-fences;
  2. Create your HTML5 script to read location — take a user’s location and insert it into a target variable;
  3. Create an audience within that geo-fence; and finally,
  4. Launch the campaign and monitor results.

Additionally, with these geo-fencing capabilities, organizations can understand how many visitors have accessed a site from a competitor’s location. This could present an opportunity to offer entertainment options to get them to come to an MGM resort.

Targeting Onsite or Off
Then, you can engage in an ongoing way with your customers while they are at your property. In MGM’s case, they can see how many people have accessed one of the MGM sites from within the Bellagio. Depending on where the users are — in an MGM-owned property, out on the strip, or even at the airport — they can tailor the experience to the users’ locations and what they could be interested in, such as entertainment or dining options.

To get even more targeted, you can enable experiential filtering within your app by responding to cues provided through engagement. Why are they coming to — or are they already in — Vegas? To party? To work? To relax? Once these cues are provided, the marketing team can push relevant, personalized, mobile content within the app based on responses.

Planning Your Personalization Strategy
Of course, as I mentioned, it’s not only about technology. Just as important are the business processes behind personalizing the mobile experience. If planning does not lead, execution is likely to fail. I recommend a two-step planning cycle for developing personalization strategies:

Step 1: Identify the use case for your personalization strategy. What, specifically, is it you want to accomplish for each intended use?
Step 2: Map out — in detail — the process to execute the use case. For example, which groups within your organization will be touched by your personalization initiative?

By planning effectively, the digital experience you serve will support the physical environment your travelers experience. As Geoff put it, “We looked to match the digital experience with the experience you get when you come to Vegas.”

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About Author

Founded by two travel and technology professionals with years of experience in Asia, Representasia specialises in sales & marketing representation throughout Southeast Asia for travel/hospitality technology providers and travel-related startups, as well as providing marketing consultancy services for hotels and travel businesses in the region.

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