Mining Data and Making Social Media More Sociable

A New Era for Hotel Executives

By Rahul Razdan CEO, Ocoos | January 24, 2016

Data and social media are the twin forces of change within the hospitality industry. Maximizing the power of these tools – for the good of workers and guests alike – is (or must be) a hotel executive's principal responsibility. Data and social media are the currency of the Web, with their respective collection and conversion of so many ones and zeroes into words and actionable intelligence. They are also the indispensable ingredients of the hospitality industry. Whatever label we assign to the first of these two forces, whether we speak of Big Data or information in general, one thing is certain: Access to that material is no longer the exclusive province of the world's top hoteliers and premier digital marketers – and that is very good news for travelers and hotel executives alike.

By democratizing data, by automating this process (for convenience) and streamlining this concept (for greater affordability), hotel executives can have the solution to that singular question about travelers of every age and interest; they can have a quick – and thorough – reply to this query by asking: Who are my guests? That is, by knowing more about the online identities of specific patrons, by having access to the tools that transform numbers into names of longstanding loyalty for this resort or that property, hotel executives can refine their marketing and communications.

They can create a more detailed description – a more intimate and individualistic profile of a guest – who best approximates the actual man or woman on the other side of the screen of some smartphone or tablet.

I write these words from experience and my own professional expertise, where, as the Founder and CEO of Ocoos, I seek to empower hotel executives with the means necessary to succeed in this dynamic economy. The practical benefits of this solution are instantly visible, thanks to what a hotel executive will no longer see: Reams of printed files, and one seemingly infinite scroll of numbers, dates and columns, which runs a from the corner of one wall to the far end of another – a paper trail, indeed!

By reducing these administrative tasks, a hotel executive can escape this self-imposed form of house arrest, and explore the grounds and the rooms, and speak with staff and guests, to get a better sense of the pulse of this living, breathing enterprise.

For, every hotel has its nuances and quirks; every property has its idiosyncrasies, both organic and inorganic, from the mannerisms of a sometimes mercurial maître d' to the ceremonial presentation of wreaths and flowers for visiting dignitaries to the sounds of the slow ascent of a passenger elevator with vintage grillwork and a metal mesh gate. A hotel executive must ensure that this vast network of men and women, and this interconnected collection of machines and mechanical devices, performs properly.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

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.