These days, many hotel interactions with their guests happen through third-party platforms: The Travelocities, Yelps, and Foursquares of the world get the feedback that hotels need and depend on, and this generally happens in a public forum. One-to-one interaction and the direct relationship between hotel and guest has fallen somewhat by the wayside in a web-based, connected world. Montreal-based GuestDriven wants to help put the guest relationship back in the hands of the hotel, and today announced a $3 million Series A to help its platform accomplish that.
GuestDriven offers hotels a platform that provides real-time guest interaction, allowing businesses to send them messages, tips, perks and loyalty benefits before, during and after their stay. The startup calls it a “Guest Relationship Management platform,” and it’s designed to provide hotels with the kind of actionable data they need to identify what’s working for their business, and what isn’t. It also helps hotels manage guest relationships down to the level of each individual, as well as identify key social influencers among their customers and reward them for broadcasting positive messages about their stay on social networks.
“Most reservations come in from third-party products, and those products don’t provide CRM data points for the hotels,” explained GuestDriven CEO and co-founder Anthony Zebrowski in an interview. “There’s a mass push on price that becomes the determining factor of where you’re booking. At the same time there are 12-14 different IT systems on the hotel side that lack any ability of talking to each other, so there’s no real CRM or contextualization.”
Already, GuestDriven is being used in around 115 hotels, but the company wants to expand in a big way and focus on the U.S. market, and that’s where this funding comes in. The round is led by PlazaCorp, Real Ventures and Structure Capital. Previous investors include strategic investors from the hospitality tech world including Joe Poulin from Luxury Retreats and Peter Kern, who sits on Expedia’s board of directors. With it, GuestDriven plans to expand its salesforce to drive its push, as well as hire additional engineers and other personnel.
A direct line of communication is a valuable tool for hotels looking to strengthen their relationship with guests and build return customers, but the data play is the bigger story here. Much of the modern travel industry is moving towards a model where access to customer data is held by third-party platform providers, but GuestDriven wants to put that info back in the hands of hoteliers themselves, which is a tempting carrot indeed in terms of what it offers for trend analysis and both short- and long-term strategic planning.