How to Use Data to Increase Profits in all Hotel Revenue Streams

By Lily Mockerman Founder, Total Customized Revenue Management | March 25, 2018

Data is often thought of as a series of numeric inputs, but data can actually come in many forms, including customer feedback, source markets or guest behavior. When applying a data strategy to an operation to increase profitability, having the right systems in place for gathering the info is a crucial first step. After this is in place, it is important to define what data will be gathered, the methods and sources from which it will be gathered, and how it will be efficiently and cleanly tracked over periods of time. Beyond that, hoteliers must closely identify the goals of the data strategy to determine how they will use what can be a massive amount of information to find better opportunities for application to strategy, marketing or other streams of revenue.

Before looking at ways to sort and apply collected data, it's important to be sure that all relevant data is being captured. Many hoteliers overlook some of the small, quick wins that can be gained by implementing a comprehensive data strategy. By taking just a little time to study the information that is at their fingertips and apply it to real-world scenarios, they may be able to improve revenues nearly overnight using the insights gained.

Ensure That the Collection Process is Set Up Accurately

As they say, garbage in, garbage out. Don't put yourself in a position where you would question the data itself. Spend the time necessary to ensure the data coming in is as usable as possible. In today's environment, technical savvy is nearly as important to the Revenue Manager's position as strategic and analytical skills. At least once a year, all the hotel's data collection systems and configuration should be reviewed, from PMS to CRS and any RMS or BI tools being used. Discrepancies in data that are broader than a simple timing issue of live vs. static systems should not be set aside in pursuit of day-to-day strategy.

While remaining on top of day-to-day strategy is certainly crucial, basing your strategies on inaccurate data is a recipe for disaster. If one report prescribes a certain strategic approach, but another based on the same data sources and time frame seems to indicate something different, this is a clue that a full system and data audit must be performed. Although most hoteliers don't have the staff to allow the room for this type of deep dive, the long-term return is worth the investment in one of the many companies that offer a service of this nature. When selecting a company to perform this type of work, it is similarly important to ensure that the technicians understand the hotel's goals and strategy, and have a deep understanding of the technology pieces to do an effective job.

But assuming that your data is already in a fairly clean state, the other evaluation to be performed is whether your data collection practices are comprehensive enough to feed an adequate amount of information into your strategies, whether pricing, marketing or other. Simple practices like ensuring all guest details are filled out in their reservation on arrival, capturing full addresses, a birthday, wedding, anniversary or guest favorite in a profile, or keeping a simple log of guest inquiries into certain services (including turnaways) can open doors to new insights and strategies for driving incremental revenue, targeted marketing or special offers.

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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.