Thinking Differently About Data, Technology and Revenue

By Sheenal Patel Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, NVN Hotels | October 09, 2016

Co-authored by Vamsi Bonthala, Co-founder, NVN Hotels

The hotel business can be mired in the way things have always been done. Hotel managers input data into spreadsheets without analysis, information from different business areas isn't centralized, and hotel owners only address problems once they become chronic. Decisions are made without rigorous data to back them up, and a stagnant mentality can prevail.

It doesn't have to be that way-and in our company it isn't. When we founded NVN Hotels 10 years ago, our intent was to challenge the status quo. By coupling a data-driven approach with guiding principles that empower employees to have ownership and enact change, we've created a culture that expects and rewards excellence, which ultimately increases revenues and propels growth.

A Universal Dashboard for Shared Success

The centerpiece of this approach is a shared dashboard, accessible to all NVN Hotels' managers and senior corporate staff. The dashboard tracks critical metrics in real time. We call these metrics the NVN Key Elements, and they include data like service scores, occupancy, brand quality assurance results, gross operating profit, RevPAR, and accounts receivable. The dashboard shows us where we are at that moment and 90-day trends. It visually depicts – in green and red – where we're meeting or exceeding our goals and where there's room for improvement.

The dashboard is a central home for information from various systems – accounting, guest management, human resources – that once existed in siloes and didn't inform one another. It gives staff access to information they need without logging into disparate programs and brand portals. The dashboard has become such a critical tool for our management that we are working with a developer to build a proprietary system that centralizes and tracks the NVN Key Elements; we just transitioned from Google Docs, and the investment is already making us more efficient.

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Coming up in February 2019...

Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.