By Julie Machado, Product Manager
Until technological advances made it possible, automating the data mining process for Knowland customers to bring forth new group business opportunities that match a group’s historical buying behavior to a property was time-intensive. In the fourth quarter of 2017, the first iteration of prescriptive technology that automated the time-intensive process of mining large amounts of market data became available. It enabled Knowland customers to more clearly identify the most promising opportunities for a given hotel. Knowland customers had the ability to now change the focus from lead quantity to lead quality, driving more direct sales success at lower customer acquisition costs.
As a forward- thinking company, Knowland innovation did not stop there. As we dove into applying analytics to our historical database of past events, we began advancing the concept that comp-sets are not only the group that met next door. Analytics are being applied to much more efficiently mine vast stores of historical groups and meetings activity to find prospective opportunities that represent the best fit between a particular hotel’s needs and a group’s buying behaviors.
Our Elite Leads Serving functionality took into account predictive factors beyond prior events’ locations and markets. With the benefit of powerful analytics and to be useful, the solution needed to not only predict that an event is likely going to happen at some defined point in the future, but also that a particular hotel has a higher or lower probability of booking that event, given what a group has normally done versus what the hotel has to offer. Easier said than done, but we did it.
In July 2018, with two quarters of learning and refinements under our belts, the Inbound Lead Evaluation functionality was added to the Knowland platform. Inbound Lead Evaluation applied the same analytics to analyzing inbound RFPs. Knowland analyzed what other past events that group has held, how the group’s past behavior matches to a property, and assigned a score on the likelihood that they would book their upcoming event with that property.
In the relentless path to innovation, Knowland’s next step was to look at integration with other lead management systems used in the industry. In January 2019, Knowland’s first integration option debuted, giving our customers the ability to send their opportunities from our platform through the MeetingBroker channel if they utilized that software. We had realized the goal of automating efforts to get Knowland leads out of our platform more efficiently and into their Sales & Catering system to prospect, track, report, and close faster.
Maintaining our two-quarter cadence, Knowland launched a version of SmartSearch in the summer of 2019. Taking what we have learned from our customers and the newest available technology, we have taken our analytics engine to the next level by applying it to a new enhanced search capability. SmartSearch merges the power of Elite Leads analytics, adds flexibility and speed and then combines it with the power of search to meet our customers’ needs to bring quality opportunities to their door.
Refining our concept of quality over quantity, SmartSearch looks at relevant past opportunities for a hotel and utilizes that to serve the best-fit opportunities based on fit for a specific hotel. This allows our customers to build their own leads on demand, in real-time, with the criteria that matters most to them. Relevant opportunities, meaning the groups most likely to book at your property, are pushed to the top for easy prospecting. No more manual data mining and cold calls. We call this the Proactive Group Sales Strategy. Find groups you would not have known about, but who are a fit for YOUR hotel based on past behavior. Then proceed to have a warm conversation with the planner. Cut out the third-party intermediaries like Cvent and don’t wait for them to send you a lead/RFP.
Past booking analysis is also provided for each of our 800k+ Accounts so our customers can quickly understand their buying behavior and booking preferences and easily see if and where there is a fit, as well as what the total opportunity might be for that Account.
Put another way, SmartSearch gives our customers the flexibility to search in context for exactly the business they want, and in real-time our advanced analytics looks at each group’s total past bookings within that search, compares the buying behavior for relevant past bookings within the set in relation to the hotel, and then gives the results of the search in order of relevance.
Stay tuned for the next trick up our sleeve, coming in Q1 2020!