Connectivity, Wi-Fi

How the Hospitality Industry Can Create Magic with Location Analytics

February 2020
Blog 31620
By Alex Jinks

Reflecting its mission to create a delightful guest experience, Disney World’s official motto is “The Most Magical Place on Earth.” A good deal of that magic is being generated with location analytics and data visualization solutions that help the resort extract actionable insights from vast amounts of customer data.

Although it has been around for a decade or so, location analytics has gained steam across a variety of industries over the past couple of years. It’s a subset of big data analytics designed specifically to uncover patterns, trends and relationships using huge amounts of location-specific data being generated by smartphones, RFID sensors, beacons, GPS signals and cell towers. When linked to other sources of business data, this location information can be used to generate maps and other visually appealing resources that give reports an entirely new context.

Retail organizations have been among the more enthusiastic adopters of location analytics, but the hospitality industry has discovered the technology can help them deliver unique guest experiences. Not surprisingly, Disney has been among the trailblazers in this industry.

‘Digital Concierge’

At Disney World, technicians operating from the underground command center beneath Cinderella’s Castle capture a considerable amount of data from guests wearing MagicBands, the RFID-enabled wristbands that guests use to enter the parks, unlock their hotel room, and buy food and merchandise. Using this data, Disney engineers can generate heat maps of traffic patterns throughout the park, track which souvenirs and refreshments are popular on any given day, and understand what attractions have long wait times. The command center can shift staffing levels across multiple parks, assign character actors to entertain guests in crowded areas or adjust concession inventories. Occasionally, they will even reroute a parade to try to draw guests to more lightly populated areas.

Carnival and Royal Caribbean have adopted similar systems for some of their cruise ships. Wearable RFID medallions used by guests for boarding, room access and purchases also generate data that help operators understand traffic patterns, dining preferences and more. From the guest perspective, it serves as a digital concierge, suggesting activities, providing itinerary updates and enabling faster service. Guests can even track the location of their kids or traveling companions.

Location analytics also enable resorts, hotels, theme parks and restaurants to map data for marketing campaigns that target specific guests, segments or date ranges. Some hotels capture data about the number of guests, where they come from, and how they made their reservation to shape marketing promotion and create loyalty programs.

Cisco’s Approach

Cisco has made it easy for its wireless customers to get started by embedding location analytics capabilities within its Meraki access points. Data collected by the APs is synced with the Cisco Meraki cloud and automatically reported in the dashboard, providing visual representation of properties such as visitor traffic, dwell time and repeat visitors. Most Meraki APs also have a dedicated Bluetooth BLE radio that allows the APs to be used for asset tracking, assisted navigation and more.

Additionally, Meraki is deeply integrated with social media platforms, allowing organizations to capture, aggregate and analyze anonymous demographic data. Organizations can leverage this integration for social media promotions and to generate positive feedback.

With mobile technologies creating an increasingly connected society, some studies suggest that as much as 80 percent of all business data now has a location component. However, this valuable source of customer insight often goes untapped. With deep experience in wireless networking for the hospitality industry and particular expertise with Wi-Fi networks, SageNet can help you develop a location analytics strategy that will inject some magic into your guest experiences.

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