How Data and Technology Will Impact Your Job

By Kelly McGuire Vice President, Advanced Analytics, Wyndham Destination Network | December 28, 2014

It's a great time to be in revenue management! Demand is up, rates are raising, and the revenue management discipline is getting attention at the highest levels in the organization. After five years of economic growth, organizations are feeling comfortable enough to invest in people and resources to improve decision making. Revenue management has always been at the center of data and technology investment in hotels. In 2015, revenue management has the opportunity to guide organizations to the processes and investments that will make the most impact on revenue and profits.

There is no doubt that the role of the revenue manager has evolved significantly in the last decade. Revenue managers have taken on broader and more strategic responsibility in their organizations, including having to work more closely with sales and marketing, and getting more deeply involved in setting business strategy. In this article, I'll provide some tips in the area of data and technology for revenue management executives to prepare themselves and their organizations for success in 2015 and beyond.

It is very easy to get caught up in the day to day details of a very detailed job, but if you are not staying on top of the trends as they happen – and taking the time to think through their direct impact – you and your organization will be left behind. Hopefully the sections below will help you direct your efforts, so you know what you should be paying attention to as we approach 2015 and beyond.

2015 will be the year of (more) data. Data is the revenue manager's biggest asset and biggest limitation. Recently, the market has started talking about big data, and many argue that we are moving from an era of data scarcity to data abundance. There is certainly no LACK of new data sources offered to revenue managers, but abundance is creating new challenges. It is becoming increasingly difficult to sort out the value from the noise. Yet, at the same time, the inability to get to the right data or get the data at the right level of detail continues to limit (and frustrate) revenue managers.

Data storage is becoming cheaper, faster and more flexible. However, just because you CAN store the data doesn't mean you SHOULD. It takes resources, both technology and people, to manage data sets, large or not-so-large. It is also easy to get distracted by data, either getting lost in an analysis without producing any results, or by over-fitting a model with so much data that it becomes unable to predict the future. Don't become so consumed by the "big data" buzz that you are distracted from understanding the purpose and the value of the data. In fact, there is as much value in investing in going after what you "can't get to" today – more detailed demand by room type or cancellation information, for example - as there is in trying to get find the benefits in new data source.

Here is My Advice for Managing Through the Year of (More) Data

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The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.