As the hospitality industry navigates its way through recovery, there’s been a collective shift throughout operating departments toward a guest-centric strategy, deploying solutions to improve guest satisfaction, capture more direct bookings, and drive revenue at each touchpoint along the guest journey.
The longstanding dream of a golden customer record – a single profile offering a 360-degree view of the guest across all of your systems – is finally becoming more of a reality. Increasingly, hotel owners and operators are turning to a Customer Data Platform (CDP) to gather and centralize all the guest data needed for the marketing department to deploy highly personalized campaigns and guest communication.
With all the buzz around CDP, however, a critical component to a hospitality organization’s data strategy is often overshadowed: Master Data Management (MDM). CDP and MDM are often confused, but in reality it’s critical for organizations to have the proper data architecture and management processes in place – across all systems where guest data is imported – before serving the cleaned data to a CDP. In other words, don’t build your house without building its foundation – including the framing and the plumbing – first.
Below, we hope to help highlight the differences between CDP and MDM and provide best practices for ensuring you’ve got the right data foundation in place.
Defining MDM and CDP
While the two technologies are built to help create a 360-degree view of the guest, there are important differences in how each platform approaches the challenge.
A Customer Data Platform (CDP), according to Gartner, is a marketing system that unifies a company’s customer data from marketing and other channels to enable customer modeling and optimize the timing and targeting of messages and offers.
CDP’s focus is streamlining guest data across sources to drive marketing actions targeted at travelers. With clean and high-quality data as an input, CDPs can aggregate guest information with important interactions such as email clicks, mobile app usage, and customer service to create single customer views. This streamlined data can help marketing teams better segment the customer base, construct targeted marketing programs and ultimately, improve the guest experience.
Master Data Management (MDM), Gartner says, is a technology-enabled discipline in which business and IT work together to ensure the uniformity, accuracy, stewardship, semantic consistency and accountability of the enterprise’s official, shared master data assets.
MDM’s objective is to provide consistent, clean, and uniform data, and unlock scalable analytical and operational data across the organization. MDMs are tasked with raising the quality of various types of data, and Marketing is only one of several departments across operations that might leverage mastered customer data – centralizing data for deeper analysis will benefit decision-makers in Sales, Revenue, Operations, Asset Management, etc.
In general, the main difference between CDP and MDM for hospitality: CDPs are more guest-focused and a great tool for Marketing to build campaigns around a single view of the guest; MDM is a bi-directional process to cleansing and exposing that data early on in the process and then feeding your CDP.
A Focus on Data Management in Hospitality
Data management is more important than ever for hospitality organizations. Putting guests at the center of your operational strategies requires an integration platform that can ingest, collect and collate guest profile data from different systems, analyze and normalize the data, and then push updates back in real time to a hotel’s different systems of record (e.g. PMS, spa, table management, etc.).
Before sending your data to a CDP, ensure you’ve deployed the proper MDM strategy, which should improve the quantity and quality of your data flow. Without this critical first step, you could be setting yourself up for a “garbage in, garbage out” scenario. With the proper data management system serving your CDP, you can ensure you’re reaching guests on all the effective channels – website, SMS, paid advertising, etc.
When data strategies are properly architectured and executed – taking into account all the specifics of the hospitality industry’s fragmented ecosystem – hotel companies are able to create a meaningful, personalized relationship with their guests, increase guest satisfaction, and boost revenue.
Laurent has more than 30 years of experience in hospitality, most spent with Accor, where he ran IT Departments for Accor North America and eventually became Group CIO. Laurent joined Hapi as COO in 2018 and also serves as a board member and executive advisor to several hospitality technology organizations. In 2014, Laurent was elected to the Board of Governors of Hospitality Technology Next Generation (HTNG); he has served as a member of the Customer Advisory Boards of Oracle and Amadeus Hospitality; and in 2017, he received the Innovation Award from the China Hospitality Technology Alliance.