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Revolutionise Hospitality Brands with Digital Hospitality

Executive summary of the HSMAI Europe Chief Digital Officer Executive Roundtable

On January 20, 2023, HSMAI Europe hosted an executive roundtable where digital experts discussed how new technology and new customer behaviours will change the digital marketing capabilities in the Hospitality Industry through advanced personalization of the customer experiences.

In this executive summary Rémy Merckx, Head of Travel & Hospitality at eClerx and an active member of HSMAI Europe shares findings, thoughts, and joint predictions from the executive roundtable on the big digital trends in digital hospitality in the coming years. Continue reading to learn about the role of CDO in the hospitality industry, Predictive personalisation, Hospitality MarTech Infrastructure, changes in the Customer Behaviour, Social Channels, Marketing Costs, and the use of AI & VR to use in your hospitality marketing.

“The future of business is digital and sustainable”

Rémy Merckx, Head of Travel & Hospitality at eClerx

Challenges the industry is facing now 

During the meeting attendees discussed the main challenges facing the hospitality industry in the current context: 

  1. Decreased demand and revenue for hotels, restaurants, leisure, and other ancillary hospitality businesses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Shift towards contactless payment and increased focus on cleanliness and safety to adapt to changes in consumer behaviours.

3. Meeting the needs of a growing number of digital-savvy travellers who expect to be able to book and manage their travel plans online and on mobile devices. 

4. Attracting and retaining employees, as many workers in the hospitality industry have been furloughed or laid off due to the pandemic. Every level should be reevaluated to attract the best-in-class knowledge and workforce. 

More generally, the industry needs to be ready to adapt to new customer and employee expectations and needs to focus on innovative technologies to streamline operations and personalise the guest experience. 

Other trends that are setting the industry in 2023: 

    • Millennials are the largest generation in this world – mid-stage career – 10% increase in per capita spending in the next 5 years
    • “Digital Nomad” profiles going to a bunch of new destinations = Anywhere Traveller
    • Blockchain-Subscription-Based Hospitality (BSBH) – the [re]volution in loyalty and retention strategy
    • India is the new China
    • Permanxiety = brands need to communicate in synch with this new behaviour based on emotions
    • Bleisure is the new dominant segment and based on behavioural archetypes
    • Short-Videos – “TikTok” is becoming a Marketing Standard shipping away search engines
    • Super Luxury on the rise
    • Self-Directed Event Experiences
    • Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI)

The role of Chief Digital Officer (CDO) in Hospitality industry

A Chief Digital Officer (CDO) in Hospitality is a senior-level executive who is responsible for leading an organisation’s digital strategy and transformation. In a business-to-consumer (B2C) environment, the CDO plays a crucial role in driving the digitalization of the business and leveraging technology to improve customer experiences, increase total revenues (TOTREV$), and gain a competitive edge.

Some of the key responsibilities of a CDO in a B2C Hospitality environment may include:  

  • Developing and implementing a digital strategy that aligns with the overall business goals and objectives.  
  • Identifying and leveraging new technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), to improve customer engagement and personalization. 
  • Overseeing the development and management of digital platforms, such as websites, mobile apps, and social media channels, to ensure they are user-friendly and meet the needs of customers.  
  • Analysing customer data to gain insights into their behaviour and preferences, and using this information to inform product development, marketing, and other business decisions.  
  • Collaborating with other departments and stakeholders, such as marketing, IT, and operations, to ensure a seamless and integrated customer experience across all touchpoints, including physical ones when customers are staying at hotels or other accommodation types.  
  • Managing digital projects and initiatives, and ensuring they are delivered on time and within budget.

In short, in a B2C setting, CDOs serve as leaders who drive digital transformation within the organisation, gain insight into customer needs and behaviour, and steer the company towards delivering improved customer experiences.

Predictive Personalisation

Predictive personalisation is a marketing approach that involves using data and machine learning (ML) algorithms to anticipate the preferences and needs of individual customers, and then tailor marketing messages and recommendations accordingly. The goal is to deliver personalized experiences that are relevant, timely, and engaging, and that help to build customer loyalty and drive conversions. 

Predictive personalisation can be used in a variety of contexts, including email marketing, web personalization, and recommendation engines.

It can involve predicting what products or services a customer is likely to be interested in based on their past purchases, browsing history, and other data points. It can also involve predicting what types of marketing messages are likely to be most effective for a particular customer, and when those messages should be delivered. 

There are several reasons why predictive personalization is becoming a digital standard in marketing activities for the Hospitality industry: 

  1. Increased competition: As more businesses enter the online marketplace, it becomes increasingly important to stand out and differentiate oneself from competitors. Predictive personalization allows businesses to tailor their marketing efforts to individual customers, making their messaging more relevant and appealing. 
  2. Customer expectations: Customers expect personalised experiences, and are more likely to engage with marketing efforts that feel relevant to them. Predictive personalization allows businesses to deliver these personalised experiences at scale. 
  3. Improved results: Predictive personalization can lead to higher conversion rates and customer retention, as well as lower costs for generating new business. 
  4. Data-driven approach: Predictive personalization relies on data analysis and machine learning to make informed predictions about what customers are likely to engage with. This data driven approach allows businesses to make more informed decisions about their marketing efforts, ultimately saving costs and driving ROI. 

Overall, predictive personalization across all communication and engagement channels is becoming a digital standard because it allows businesses to deliver more personalized, relevant experiences to their customers, which can lead to improved results and customer satisfaction. 

Hospitality MarTech Infrastructure

There are numerous digital MarTech tools available to support personalization, including: 

  1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems: These help businesses manage customer interactions and data across various channels, including email, social media, and web analytics. They allow businesses to segment and target specific groups of customers with personalised messaging and offers. 
  2. Personalization Software: These tools use machine learning algorithms to analyse customer data and create personalised recommendations and recommendations for each user based on their preferences and past behaviour. 
  3. Marketing Automation Platforms: These tools automate marketing processes such as email campaigns, social media posting, and website personalization, allowing businesses to deliver personalised content and experiences to customers. 
  4. Website | APP Personalization Tools: These allow businesses to customise the content and layout of their website based on visitor behaviour, location, and other factors.
  5. Customer Feedback Tools: These tools help businesses gather customer feedback and reviews, which can be used to improve the customer experience and tailor marketing efforts to individual needs. 

Customer Behaviour

Customer behaviour is becoming the number 1 criterion for customer retention and loyalty strategies because it allows companies to understand the needs and preferences of their customers. By analysing customer behaviour, companies can identify the factors that drive customer loyalty and design strategies that address those needs.

For example, if a company notices that its customers are more likely to return and make repeat purchases when they receive personalised recommendations or discounts, they can create targeted marketing

campaigns and loyalty programs that focus on these factors. On the other hand, if a company notices that their customers are less likely to return when they experience long wait times or poor customer service, they can implement strategies to improve these areas in order to retain their customers.

Overall, understanding customer behaviour allows companies to create targeted retention and loyalty strategies that are more effective in retaining their customers and increasing customer loyalty.

Social Channels

Social media and mobile apps are the most important channels in a digital engagement action plan because they reach a large and highly engaged audience. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok have billions of users and offer a wide range of targeting options to reach specific demographics and interests. Mobile Apps also have a high level of engagement, as they are easily accessible and can be used on the go. Additionally, both social media and mobile apps allow for real-time interaction and engagement with customers, providing an opportunity for businesses to build relationships and gather valuable feedback.

Overall, social media and mobile apps are essential channels for any digital engagement action plan as they allow businesses to effectively reach and engage with their target audience.

Marketing Costs

Retention costs refer to the resources and efforts spent on maintaining and retaining existing customers, while acquisition costs refer to the resources and efforts spent on acquiring new customers. Personalization can have a significant impact on both retention and acquisition costs in digital marketing budgets. 

On the retention side, personalization can help improve customer engagement and satisfaction, leading to higher retention rates and lower churn rates. 

This can lead to reduced marketing costs as companies can focus on retaining and upselling to existing customers rather than constantly acquiring new ones.

On the acquisition side, personalization can help improve the effectiveness of marketing campaigns by targeting the right audience with relevant messages and offers. This can lead to higher conversion rates and lower acquisition costs as companies can reach the right customers more efficiently.

Overall, personalization can lead to more efficient and effective marketing efforts, leading to reduced costs and higher ROI for digital marketing budgets.


There are several ways to automate content production to increase personalization efficiency: 

  1. Use natural language generation (NLG) software: This type of software uses artificial intelligence (AI) to automatically generate written content in a way that mimics human language. It can be used to create personalized content based on user data, such as location, interests, and behavior.
  1. Use templates and variables: You can create templates for common types of content, such as emails or social media posts, and use variables to customize them for different audiences. For example, you could create a template for a newsletter and use variables to insert the recipient’s name, location, and interests. 
  2. Use personalization tags: Personalization tags allow you to insert personalised content into your marketing messages, such as the recipient’s name or location. This can be done manually or through the use of software that automatically inserts the tags based on user data. 
  3. Use machine learning (ML): Machine learning algorithms can analyse user data and automatically generate personalised content based on patterns and trends they detect. This can be a powerful way to create highly personalised content at scale. 

Overall, automating content production can help you create more personalised content more efficiently, allowing you to scale your marketing efforts and improve the customer experience. 

The use of AI and VR in Hospitality Marketing

These are just a few examples of the ways in which AI can be used in Hospitality marketing, and as technology continues to evolve, new opportunities for AI in this field are likely to emerge. 

  1. Personalised marketing: AI can be used to analyse data on individual Loyalty Members, such as their browsing history, purchase history, and social media activity, in order to create personalised marketing campaigns that are more likely to resonate with them. 
  2. Predictive analytics: AI can be used to analyse data to identify the likelihood of future outcomes. This can apply in all sorts of ways to make decisions about things like forecasting demand, customer archetypes, loyalty fraud detection, revenue management & dynamic pricing, and of course personalization marketing. 
  3. Content creation: AI can be used to generate videos and other digital content, such as highlights from trips, social media posts, and promotional materials. This can save time and resources for Hospitality Marketing teams and organisations. 
  4. Customer engagement: AI chatbots can be used to interact with Loyalty Members on social media and other platforms, answering questions, providing information, and helping to build a sense of community among brand ambassadors. 
  5. Social listening: AI can be used to monitor social media for mentions of a specific brand or hotel, providing valuable insights into what consumers are saying and how they feel about their experiences. This can help brands to identify opportunities to improve their marketing and customer engagement efforts. 
  6. Partnerships identification: AI can be used to identify new partnerships opportunities, such as identifying and targeting specific brands or companies that align with the brand values, image, DNA, and overall marketing goals.
  7. In-hotel experiences: AI can be used to enhance customer experience at the hotels through features such as providing personalised recommendations for food and merchandise, sending targeted push notifications to customers during their stays, or even enhancing safety by implementing AI-powered surveillance systems.

‘2023 is also the year of Retention vs. Acquisition’

From disruptive new digital marketing capabilities, data privacy as a service (DPaaS), advanced analytics, and innovative MarTech. like AI or VR and Influencer Marketing 3.0. – all of it will revolutionise the way Hospitality Brands are engaging with their customers.

Stay up-to-date on relevant industry topics by joining theHSMAI Region Europe as a member? To inquire about membership packages contact us at


Rémy Merckx 

Head of Travel & Hospitality at eClerx

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