NEW YORK: Starwood Hotels & Resorts, the accommodation group, has deepened its customer understanding by focusing on granular qualitative insights which can then be scaled up across its business.

Matt Valenti, the organisation's VP/Guest Experience and Intelligence, discussed this topic at VentureBeat's Marketing.FWD Summit 2016 in New York.

And he revealed that the firm has deliberately moved away from explicitly "transactional" questions, such as asking visitors to score the comfort of a bed on a five-point scale.

Instead, it wants to get a deep, personal view on subjects like: "What was the quality of your sleep?", "Were you able to relax?" and "What were your expectations? Did we meet your expectations? Did we go above and beyond? Or did we disappoint?"

"We spent a lot of time looking at: how are we asking questions? And then: what sort of things do we take from that?" said Valenti. (For more, including further research tips, read Warc's exclusive report: Starwood Hotels & Resorts reorientates research – and exceeds expectations.)

"And that's where that expectations base comes in. And one of the things we looked at is: well, which questions were most related to whether or not you say your experience was 'delightful' or your experience was a 'disappointment'?"

Focusing on expectations is particularly important, as it helps Starwood identify – on a brand-by-brand basis – which services and experiences are considered basic must-haves, and where there is space to delight consumers.

"We still have some – if you fill out a survey – questions that are numerically-based," Valenti informed the VentureBeat delegates.

"That's most for legacy [reporting], and trending, and some other analytics that we do. But, beyond that, we're asking you to tell us, in your own words: did we meet your expectations?"

By crunching the numbers and connecting data across its hotel brands, Starwood can then mix these granular information points with more aggregated learnings.

"Starwood spends a lot of time capturing your preferences, making sure they're shared across the properties so that we know you, can anticipate your needs, and can take advantage of your preferences to deliver you a better experience," Valenti said.

"And data is very important to us because we need to, obviously, connect those experiences, as well, for your loyalty as SPG [loyalty-program] members."

Data sourced from Warc