The Four Points by Sheraton in Halifax, Nova Scotia, had an ongoing challenge typical to most hotels: putting guests in the rooms with the amenities they desire most.
Staffers would try to find rooms that fulfilled guests' requests, but it was a cumbersome task and many customers didn't get what they asked for. That's because guest preferences, even preferences from people enrolled in Sheraton's corporate loyalty program, were recorded in free text. Plus, the company had no central database for all of its hotels that listed features for each room, such as size, views or bed type.
Executives at parent company Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide saw the need to do better. Operating in a mature industry squeezed by changes on several fronts, Starwood faced competition from disruptive newcomers such as Airbnb and online travel agencies, so it turned to analytics to gain a competitive advantage.
The Stamford, Conn.-based company takes guest data it captures through its Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) loyalty program and turns it into insights that enable hotels like the Halifax Four Points to essentially recognize guests and put them in the rooms they'll like best. The initiative is known as the SPG Preferences program.
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