Spotlight Interview: Stuart Watt, Head of Global Data at Loqate


In the ever-evolving landscape of hospitality, the importance of high-quality data cannot be overstated. It is the lifeblood of the industry, driving everything from customer communication to operational efficiency. Stuart Watt, Head of Global Data at Loqate, understands this better than most. His company acquires and enhances the best location data worldwide, using advanced technology and human expertise to deliver the highest quality global, premise-level addressing data. This data is then integrated into a platform that allows customers to seamlessly choose and integrate the solutions that best fit their specific needs. In this interview, Watt delves into the importance of data quality for the hospitality industry and how Loqate’s technology is revolutionizing the way hotels operate.

Can you explain the importance of data quality for the hospitality industry? How does accurate address data improve the check-in process for hotels?

In the dynamic realm of business, particularly within the intricate world of hospitality, the pivotal role of data quality in achieving success cannot be overstated. Today, data has evolved beyond being a mere asset; it is now the lifeblood of any enterprise. The true value of data, however, lies not only in its abundance but in its quality. Poor-quality data carries far-reaching repercussions, capable of casting a lasting shadow on a brand’s reputation and precipitating costly mistakes.

Accurate address data is essential for hoteliers to ensure smooth operations, improve guest experience, and streamline various processes such as reservations, check-ins, and guest communications.

We all want to build long and profitable relationships with our customers. But customer communication is reliant on having accurate information on hand. Collecting trustworthy data and updating existing records gives you a better, deeper understanding of your customers. Quality data leads to effective communication with guests, improved decision-making, a positive brand reputation, an increase in efficiency and an increased success rate in product and service delivery. With high-quality data, you can reach your customers at the right time, via the right channel, with the right message.

Hotels rely on accurate data for various operational processes, from reservations to room assignments. High-quality data enables efficient management of bookings, reducing the risk of overbookings or errors that can negatively impact operations.

Can you share some insights into how Loqate’s technology enhances data quality at the point of entry? How does improving data quality at check-in contribute to customer satisfaction?

Loqate guarantees a swift and seamless guest experience by validating customer contact details in real-time, both during online bookings and at check-in within your PMS platform. As the guest inputs their address, Loqate’s technology takes charge, suggesting valid addresses to reduce keystrokes, prevent typos, and eliminate incomplete entries.

This streamlined process not only expedites the guest’s arrival but also ensures precision at the point of entry, mitigating potential delays and enhancing overall satisfaction. By minimizing the risk of inaccuracies in guest details, including addresses, Loqate establishes correctness from the outset.

The integration of Loqate’s address verification solution streamlines various operational processes, from invoice generation to managing guest preferences and conducting post-stay surveys. Accurate customer data ensures efficient communication and a seamless experience for both guests and hotel staff.

Can you share some insights into the role of data quality in driving business growth and success for hotels? Also, how does accurate address data helps hotels reach guests during their stay and beyond?

In today’s data-driven world, a hotel’s data quality directly impacts its ability to operate, grow, and stay ahead of the competition. Data quality is fundamental for success, beyond the check-in process. From streamlining operations, the impact of accurate data resonates across different aspects of a hotel’s functioning.

Operational Efficiency: Precise data streamlines reservations, room assignments, and service delivery, reducing errors for a seamless guest experience.

Positive Brand Image: Reliable data contributes to a positive brand reputation by minimizing communication errors and operational hiccups that could tarnish a hotel’s image.

Effective Communication: Accurate address data enables targeted communication during and after a guest’s stay, enhancing the overall experience and promoting ongoing engagement.

Targeted Marketing: In reaching potential guests, accurate address data is essential for targeted marketing efforts, ensuring promotions and offers reach the right audience.

Post-Stay Engagement: Quality data supports post-stay engagement strategies, including feedback surveys, promotions, and ongoing communication to encourage future bookings.

Can you share any advice on how hotels can improve their Data Quality?

Regardless of sector, your business should have a clear and well-thought-out plan for how data will be collected, maintained, and analysed. A successful data quality plan ensures accurate data the second it enters your database. Validation software can be implemented in various channels such as your website, CRM or PMS system to prevent inaccurate information, like poor address and email contact details, from entering your database.

Whilst that’s the first step, it’s important to note that data decays over time. By the end of the year, your customer data on average will have decayed by around 15-20% and your business data by 30-40%. For this reason, ongoing maintenance is essential to ensuring your database is kept clean and the quality of your data is optimal.

In an economy where margins are getting tighter, it’s worth having a think about what the data flow looks like within your organization and identifying any areas where you could be losing opportunities and revenue without realising.

Improving data quality management doesn’t always mean massive investments in IT and organizational changes. Even small tuning-type adjustments to the existing architecture can bring quick and significant benefits.

How does Loqate differentiate itself from other data solution providers in the hospitality industry?

While there are many types of address verification tools, type-ahead address verification makes it quick and easy for users to search and complete their full address in just a few keystrokes, making the process of entering an address into an online form much quicker and smoother. It also ensures that the data that is captured is valid and accurate.

Loqate is the global leader in address verification – we set the standard by pioneering data curation methods and technological innovations that power our location data products and services.  With pre-built extensions for leading PMS tools such as Oracle Hospitality, CRM and e-commerce platforms you can be up and running within minutes.

Can you explain how Loqate’s technology aligns with the increasing demand for personalized guest experiences in the hospitality industry?

Quality data is vital for any hotel, as it can provide insights into customer behavior, preferences, and trends. With quality data, hotels can know their customers better and develop more effective, personalized marketing strategies that can improve Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).

Data quality serves as the foundation for enabling businesses to personalize interactions with their guests, creating a tailored and memorable experience. Through the collection and maintenance of accurate customer data, companies can gain invaluable insights into a customer’s individual preferences, their behavior patterns, their purchase history, and more. This all begins with accurate customer contact data.

With accurate address, phone and email addresses within your PMS, hotels can personalise guest communications, including pre-arrival emails, promotional offers, or important announcements. This targeted communication based on verified information enhances guest experience and drives customer loyalty. This alignment positions hotels using Loqate at the forefront of delivering a superior and individualized guest journey.

How does Loqate’s technology help hotels optimize their check-in procedures? Also, can you explain how Loqate’s solutions contribute to boosting customer satisfaction as well as loyalty and retention?

In recent years, the hospitality industry has experienced significant transformation, accompanied by heightened customer expectations. Streamlining the check-in process is crucial for fostering a positive customer experience, directly contributing to improved customer loyalty and retention.

How does Loqate’s address verification and geocoding technology benefit hotels and online sales conversions? Can you share some insights into how Loqate’s technology enhances online conversion rates for hotels? 

Loqate’s technology ensures a seamless booking process by automatically validating and suggesting accurate addresses as users input their information. This minimizes errors, reducing the likelihood of users abandoning the booking due to frustration, and increases the likelihood of completing the transaction.

Can you share some insights into your background and career? What motivated you to pursue a career in the field of data and technology?

My first job was as an Apprentice Electrical and Electronic Engineer.  The company I worked for manufactured machines for the automotive industry, I like to think that I had a small part to play in every Jaguar and Land Rover that was manufactured during the late 80s and early 90s. That job made me very curious and maybe creative too, looking for problems that could be fixed through technology. My interest in data started whilst working at leading Systems Integrator where we implemented CRM systems for some of the largest brands around the world. I grew frustrated that it didn’t matter how well we implemented the technology was – if the data wasn’t right, you’d never achieve what was intended from the outset. Conversely, there were a few brands that really understood the value of data and the difference investment in it could make.

How has your previous experience in data management influenced your approach to leading the Global Data team at Loqate?

Prior to my current role at Loqate, I worked for some of the largest multi-national Data Providers as well as some of the smallest. So vastly different cultures and I’d say this probably influenced me the most. To be successful you need the creativity and cadence of the start-up but the control of the multi-national which is no easy task.  It can be done though.  I’d also like to think that the curiosity from my days in Engineering is still there, creating a culture where everyone questions and queries everything to improve it.

 How do you stay updated with the latest trends and advancements in data management and technology?

It’s hard not to with the hundreds of email bulletins you receive on a daily basis telling you what the latest and greatest trend is. Outside of that though I’d say I learn most from our customers.  I’m fortunate to work in an office surrounded by our enthusiastic and committed Customer Success Team so I get to hear the calls and often invite myself onto them.  Many of the fastest growing Global Organizations use our Technology and I love to listen to what they’re doing and how they’re doing it – it’s that curiosity again.