Building a Strategic Analytic Culture in Hospitality

By Kelly McGuire Vice President, Advanced Analytics, Wyndham Destination Network | July 28, 2013

Hospitality executives struggle to find the balance between delivering a guest experience that fosters loyalty and repeat business, and delivering on their revenue and profit responsibilities to stakeholders, shareholders or franchisors. If you invest too much in the guest experience, you could impact profits, but if you focus on too many cost cutting measures to drive profits, you can negatively impact the guest experience.

Decisions made in one department of a hotel can have impacts across the organization (a marketing program that puts too much pressure on operations to deliver, or a labor savings initiative that creates long lines, for example). Analytics can help restore balance, ensuring that each department plays a well-defined strategic role in contributing to the balance of guest experience and profitability. This only works if the organization as a whole is committed to this kind of analytically based, strategic decision making.

Strategic Analytic Culture

So, what does a strategic analytic culture (SAC) look like? The figure below outlines the interrelated components of a SAC.

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Figure 1: Strategic Analytic Culture Framework

A strategic analytic culture starts and ends with executive management commitment. This level of support is required to make the necessary investments in people, process and technology, as well as to ensure the alignment among departments that is critical to enterprise-level thinking. The executive management team uses analytics to set business strategy. Rather than being guided by individual intuition or aspiration, the data and analytics offer a fact-based pathway towards the strategy, which is based on market conditions, customer characteristics and company's operating circumstances. The foundation of any analytics program is an organization-wide commitment to information management.

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.