Diamonds in the Census Mine

In Diamonds in the Data Mine, Gary Loveman’s (CEO of Harrah’s Entertainment) quintessential article about customer relationship management (CRM), he showed how Harrah’s gathered data about its customers to market effectively to them, increasing revenues.  Through effective CRM, Harrah’s was not only able to tap into customers and leverage their loyalty into new revenue opportunities, they were also able to drive top-line growth through personalized guest service.

This CNN Money article strikes a similar chord; however, replace CRM with census and Harrah’s with any enterprising business operator.  Companies like Subway and Target have cashed in on the census to cater to certain demographics and tastes in the communities they operate in.  Armed with market intelligence about cultural trends and preferences, these companies are better able to cater to their customers and—most importantly—boost bottom line.

Hoteliers or restaurateurs may consider employing this technique to add yet another dimension to the myriad tools available to them today.  During my time at the front desk, I have seen folks use Zillow to determine a potential guest’s income, the AMEX card color to predict spending habits, a guest’s Facebook ‘Favorite Food’ profile to create a personalized menu, and so on.

In the nebula of social networking and other distractions, it is easy to lose sight of the true lesson from this article.  The governing question here is not how the company data mines its customers, but whether or not the company is doing it at all.  With so many options out there, if your staff is not educating themselves about their customers daily, then they are falling behind the guest experience curve.  Relying on a mandatory national survey done every ten years is a good start, but so is simply talking to your guests, recording their preferences, and applying the appropriate action to improve operational efficiencies as a result.

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