Using Real-Time Marketing Technology for Hospitality

LOS ANGELES—Kaptivating Hospitality believes it knows what travelers want and it’s listening. The online data intelligence and marketing company is using tools to examine the intentions of travelers and turning that data into marketable information for destination management firms and hospitality companies in search of new customers.

“We have a global focus in the sense of verticals—destination management, hotels, spas is the limited set—so what we know from many years in the industry is they’re all looking for new customers and have been, to some extent, attached to various channels of distribution such as OTAs,” said Chris Wichers, president and COO, Kaptivating Hospitality Group, which is based here. “They look at the web in a specific way to drive traffic, and inspiration is the word you hear a lot. Our product’s focus starts from this sense of inspiration—we don’t use this word operationally, but it’s what we’re doing—we’re listening in social channels where people are having conversations and our artificial intelligence can interpret what the intent of some of that conversation is related to travel.”

To drive traffic to websites, manage conversions and stoke consumer awareness, Kaptivating Hospitality developed a distribution channel called Market Intelligence to reach large audiences of consumers with real-time interest in booking rooms directly with hotels.

“For example, someone is sitting online in North Carolina and says they’re headed to Manhattan in two weeks and they may express some sort of a question or local attraction in a neighborhood. Artificial intelligence filters out the noise to get to the place where we can hear John Q. Public expressing some sort of intent. What we then do is connect the customers in this conversation to the software to make offers,” said Wichers. “It’s in the ear of the beholder. What a destination management company hears is different from a spa. The software enables us to connect in any way the business wants to. We can link to a webpage for Greater New York visitors and maybe they have a hidden page for people traveling to a different corridor—they can funnel traffic quite specifically to a page. The business has a plan around that and what we offer is a plug into the distribution.”

Wichers noted that there are additional voices out there that may not be heard and the company takes a holistic approach to capturing and then examining the behaviors and intentions of customers in online activities.

“Is he searching somewhere else on an OTA site, developing interest in a community we don’t know about? But our click-through rate is very high at 29%, which means clearly something is happening, which would be different from what we normally expect,” said Wichers. “What we help our customers do with the tracking code is determine what is going on with that behavior. Does it culminate in a click or revisit? In terms of building website traffic, does it result in a booking? It’s very useful.”

Wichers explained the company is giving hospitality businesses real-time access to an intent from the moment it is expressed. It sounds like Big Brother is watching, but really the company is only able to track information that is shared publicly.

“It does sounds spooky and so we have to be careful as no one wants to be part of that world. What we have is information people are publicly exposing, but we’re also looking at profiles that are somewhat aspirational because you can write what you want. Part of artificial intelligence is collating all of that information based on a profile. We also look at the history of their communication,” he said. “We’re taking the piece that is meaningful to our customers and exchanging it for their ability to communicate and campaign with those folks, knowing you’re not expecting 100% return.”

Kaptivating Hospitality’s Market Intelligence is an additional tool for businesses to boost activity where it may have been latent.

“It’s not a silver bullet. We are doing something that is taking technology and doing some amazing things with it,” he said. “We have very early indicators. Customers get implemented and within two weeks or more, they’re seeing activity return and they’re amazed. We are getting back to immediacy and intent relative to what our costumers are trying to communicate.”