Big Data for Big Pay-Off

Put Your Data to Work Optimizing Channel Performance

By Paul van Meerendonk Director of Advisory Services, IDeaS Revenue Solutions | March 19, 2017

Big data has been a starting player on the strategic revenue roster for years. In fact, years before big data exploded into something like a phenomenon, hotels were increasingly incorporating industry data into their revenue technologies and strategies. The opportunities afforded through the effective use of big data have grown to such an extent that today’s flourishing hotels must increasingly leverage larger amounts of available data to seize their most lucrative revenue opportunities.

But while big data might be heralded as the core of intelligent decision-making, using it effectively can prove to be daunting task for many hotels – especially for those looking to use industry data to develop new revenue management strategies, such as an increasingly essential need for hotels to strengthen their channel performance capabilities.
Channel performance refers to the management of channels or sources of business to achieve optimal revenue and maximum profitability for a hotel. However, when it comes to using industry data and revenue technology for sustainable channel execution, management and results, hotels need to not only prioritize the right types of data, but use it effectively to track and manage their costs and thoroughly understand their guests.

Prioritizing the Right Data

As hotels explore different types of data for their revenue management strategy, they need to take into account the degree of uncertainty the data brings since a high degree of uncertainty can create a risk for substandard revenue decisions and strategies. This is why identifying the right types of smart data is a critical first step for every hotel.

At the highest level, analytical revenue management technology is traditionally comprised from a combination of four data set types, with each set contributing to very distinctive outputs. To better understand the importance of each data set type – and how each one helps drive revenue results for hotels – the following is a brief breakdown of the four types of data sets: descriptive data, diagnostic data, predictive data and prescriptive data.

Hotels have been using descriptive data in their basic hotel technology to achieve their business goals for many decades. Descriptive analytics utilize data similar to standard hotel reporting, and large volumes of this data are used to give hotels a view of what happened in the past. These descriptive analytics allow hoteliers to make informed decisions about the future based on data that details what has already happened. Descriptive data falls into a category classified as “hindsight,” which is data that provides hotels with the ability to interpret their historical performance.

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Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.