by David Klemt

Hotels, Guest Data and Guest Expectations: A Chat with SevenRooms

Fountains outside Bellagio Las Vegas

We sit down with Austen Asadorian, vice president of sales at SevenRooms, to chat about pent-up demand for travel.

People are eager to get back out there and hotels, of course, play a crucial role in their travel plans. However, we’re not engaging with the same guests we were pre-pandemic.

No, today’s guest demands more from the hotels and resorts they select. And a key to delivering on guest demands is collecting guest data.

But while operators know they’re supposed to be collecting guest data, there’s some uncertainty about what to actually do with it. Enter: SevenRooms.

More accurately, meet Austen Asadorian of SevenRooms. Not only can he address meeting guest demands through tech, he can address how to use guest data responsibly and effectively.

Hi Austen, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your role at SevenRooms?

Thanks, David! My name is Austen Asadorian and I’m the Vice President of Sales at SevenRooms. I first started my career in hospitality early in high school, getting a job at a local restaurant in New Jersey, learning everything from protein fabrication to catering and dealing with daily customers, even managing events. I continued working in hospitality through college, while going to the Culinary Institute of America for a degree in hospitality management, and ultimately, landed at Hillstone Restaurant Group where I ran back of house operations as well as the company’s Manager Training Program. Before joining SevenRooms, I worked as Peloton’s Director of Sales, leading their go-to-market strategy for retail growth and expansion from 2014-2017.

Today, I support SevenRooms’ global expansion efforts to accelerate our goal of being the best-in-class solution for hospitality operators around the world. Having previous experience in the hospitality industry, I joined SevenRooms because I was hyper aware of the pain points in the industry surrounding technology and the need for better guest management after having lived it day-to-day for several years. More importantly, I believe in SevenRooms’ vision and have a true passion for helping hospitality businesses, big and small, drive revenue, and create loyal guests for life.

Let’s talk hotels. What does the hotel industry look like two years after (or into) the Coronavirus pandemic?

When the pandemic struck, travel came to a complete halt and hotel occupancy in the US fell from 70% in March 2019 to less than 25% in March 2020—rooms were empty. Now, as the world is back to what we can consider a new “normal,” we’re seeing an extreme surge in travel and hotels are busier than ever.

However, what guests expect from hotels experience-wise has changed and they demand more. They’re making up for lost time and they want to make it count. Coming out of the pandemic, hotel operators are taking a harder look at their entire tech stack. It’s no longer optional to have a tech stack that is fully integrated from top to bottom across their operations—it’s a must-have—and technology providers are adapting to meet those needs. Additionally, operators have put a strong emphasis on the importance of ownership over their guest data. Both trends have positioned SevenRooms incredibly well within the hotel sector, as this has been our business philosophy from day one.

How can hotel operators and managers live up to these high expectations?

The simple answer is by taking advantage of technology solutions into their everyday practices and processes. These tech solutions can be anything from a QR code for mobile order and pay, allowing guests to order food and drink from anywhere on the property without ever needing a server to approach them, to an integrated customer relationship management (CRM) platform that speaks to and pulls data from their F&B CRM, easily sharing that information across teams at the hotel. For example, passing information along to a guest services team to ensure that in-room amenities don’t include nuts if a guest has a peanut allergy.

Operators and managers should also make sure they’re utilizing loyalty programs. According to a recent SevenRooms survey of American consumers, 44% say that loyalty programs play a part in their hotel choice and there are certain incentives that will bring them back.

For example, some want loyalty points to enjoy on property restaurants and bars, whereas others want a personal greeting when they check in, or a complimentary glass of champagne waiting for them when they get to their room.

Technology and loyalty programs both play into an exceptional experience and it’s important for operators to use both to create the total package.

You mentioned collecting guest data. Can you tell us a little bit more about why that is so important?

When we talk about data and hotels, we’re talking about using it to power a one-of-a-kind unique experience. We don’t mean taking or selling personal information, and that’s an important distinction.

The data we’re collecting for operators centers around a guest’s profile—who they are and what they like. This can be anything from their dietary preferences to their favorite table in the hotel restaurant’s dining room, to what dessert they order most often when they visit.

By having this data, operators can build a direct relationship with these guests and, in turn, build an incredible experience that keeps them coming back. For example, if a guest stays at a specific hotel on their vacation and takes full advantage of the pool cabanas, the data collected on those visits can then be used to retarget them with a special marketing promotion or offer to visit their local hotel property for a staycation, complete with a discount on a cabana day rental.

Creating these unique, personalized experiences not only increases revenue for operators, but also drives loyalty, as a loyal guest is more important than a one-time guest.

About Austen

Austen Asadorian is the Vice President of Sales at SevenRooms, where he is tasked with supporting SevenRooms’ global expansion efforts and accelerating the company’s goal of being the best-in-class solution for hospitality operators globally. Prior to joining SevenRooms, Austen was Peloton’s Director of Sales, leading the company’s go-to-market strategy for retail growth and expansion. He started his career at Hillstone Restaurant Group where he cut his teeth learning how to run efficient and profitable restaurants at scale. Austen was ultimately promoted into an executive role where he oversaw the company’s Manager in Training Program and Back of House Operations. Austen graduated from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA).

Image: Antonio Janeski