Exploring the Role of AI and First-Party Data in the Hospitality Industry
B2B Data 06.20.2023

Exploring the Role of AI and First-Party Data in the Hospitality Industry

Subscribe and listen


In this episode of Sunny Side Up, host Brian Horvath engages in an enlightening conversation with Karen Stephens, Chief Revenue Officer at Revinate, about the role of AI and first-party data in the hospitality industry. They explore how AI is being embraced in the industry, its benefits in terms of automation and improved guest experience, and the importance of integrating AI technologies with first-party data. They also discuss the challenges hoteliers face in aggregating and leveraging data effectively, ensuring data privacy and compliance, and offering valuable recommendations for industry resources.

Karen emphasizes the necessity for hoteliers to align with evolving technology, compliance laws, and data privacy standards like GDPR. The conversation also touches on the benefits of industry partnerships for better data handling, using Revinate’s collaboration with Amazon Web Services as an example. To conclude, Karen advocates for the organization and effective utilization of data at different levels within the hospitality industry. This insightful episode offers a deep dive into the intersection of hospitality, technology, and data privacy.

About the Guest

Karen has held leadership positions in hospitality tech and distribution companies for more than 20 years. Karen joined Revinate in 2013, as Senior Director of Sales, closing some of the company’s largest deals to date. From there she made her way through both the sales and CS organizations in various roles. As Chief Revenue Officer, Karen is responsible for strategy, performance, and alignment of revenue operations in the company — spanning the entire Customer Journey across Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success.

Connect with Karen Stephens

Key Takeaways

  • The hospitality industry has been slower in adopting AI but is now leveraging it to automate repetitive tasks and overcome staff shortages.
  • AI technology in the hospitality industry provides personalization, customization, and convenience to guests, enhancing their experience.
  • Synthesizing first-party data into a single profile is crucial for delivering personalized guest experiences and targeting marketing campaigns effectively.
  • Hoteliers can use AI-driven revenue management tools to present room types and offerings that resonate with individual guest preferences.
  • Integrating various data sources into a unified platform is essential for hotels to achieve comprehensive insights and a single view of the guest.
  • Data privacy and compliance, particularly regarding global clientele, are major concerns for the hospitality industry, requiring secure and GDPR-compliant systems.
  • It’s important to learn from experienced players in the industry to effectively handle technology adoption.
  • A Customer Data Platform (CDP) in the hospitality industry needs to handle data from guests around the world and adhere to their local privacy laws.
  • The hospitality industry has the unique challenge of dealing with diverse data from a global clientele.
  • Vendor relationships are crucial in managing data effectively. 


“Handling first-party data should be the number one concern for anybody, no matter what industry.”  – Karen Stephens

Highlights from the Episode


How is the hospitality industry embracing AI today and what are the benefits they’re seeing from its adoption?

Karen explained that the hospitality industry has been making beneficial use of AI, particularly in light of global staffing shortages that emerged following the COVID-19 pandemic. She highlighted the use of AI for handling repetitive tasks, enhancing efficiency, and freeing human staff for more complex tasks. One notable example she provided was Ivy, a guest messaging platform used by Revinate. Ivy is capable of answering guest queries, such as requests for towels or Wi-Fi passwords, thus reducing the need for human intervention. However, when a query falls outside the AI’s capabilities, a human staff member can seamlessly step in. This combination of automation and human touch has streamlined operations in the hospitality sector.

How can AI technology provide personalization, customization, and convenience to guests in the hospitality industry?

According to Karen, AI has extensive applications in the hospitality industry, particularly in terms of personalizing the guest experience. With the help of AI and machine learning, data about a guest can be synthesized into a single profile. This includes data from booking, on-property activities, and marketing campaigns. By having a comprehensive view of a guest’s behavior, preferences, and needs, the hotel can provide a truly personalized experience. Furthermore, this data-driven approach can optimize revenue management by, for example, offering room types that the guest prefers. The challenge lies in consolidating data from legacy systems into a unified platform, a complex task that requires sophisticated machine-learning algorithms.

In what ways is AI providing better data for hoteliers and how are they leveraging this to make informed decisions?

Karen pointed out that AI is crucial in synthesizing various data points about a guest into a unified profile. She gave the example of Revinate’s use of machine learning for profile synthesis, which entails identifying and tagging different pieces of data about a guest and normalizing it to detect any consistencies. Once all these data points are combined, hoteliers can view the entire purchasing behavior of a guest and make more targeted offers. With the help of AI, these profiles can be created and maintained more efficiently and accurately, offering hoteliers better insights to improve their decision-making processes.

What do you think is the most important thing for the hospitality industry to have integrated solutions that incorporate both these AI technologies and this first-party data?

Karen suggested that the hospitality industry should focus on catching up with other sectors in terms of adopting customer data platforms (CDPs). CDPs can integrate data from various sources, synthesize it into unified customer profiles, and activate it across multiple channels. The key, however, is to find a CDP that caters to the unique needs of the hospitality industry, considering its specific requirements around customer data and profiles, as well as compliance with privacy laws such as GDPR. According to Karen, Revinate’s CDP is becoming more sophisticated, making it a suitable vertical solution for the hospitality industry.

What steps can the hospitality industry take to ensure the privacy of customer data and build guest trust in data privacy?

Karen explains that data privacy is a major concern, especially for hotels with a global clientele. She emphasizes the importance of complying with privacy laws, such as GDPR, even when handling data from different countries. Karen suggests that hotels should seek vendors who specialize in data privacy and comply with regulations. She also mentions the significance of using compliant platforms and ensuring that all vendors involved have appropriate data privacy measures in place. Karen gives an example of how their platform includes a GDPR safe button, allowing users to easily apply data practices and ensure explicit consent for marketing campaigns, minimizing the risk of mistakes.

Is there a book, blog, newsletter, website, or video that you would recommend to our listeners?

A blog


Noreen Henry – Chief Revenue Officer at Sojern 

Farhan MohammadWorldwide Leader, Go-to-Market – Travel and Hospitality Solutions 

Matthijs Welle – CEO at MEWS

Demandbase image

Sunny Side Up

B2B podcast for, Smarter GTM™

This article was published in:

More like this
Demandbase image
Demandbase image
Demandbase image