Beyond Big Data: Why Small Data Matters and What Your Hotel Can Do About It

October 24, 2014 SnapShot Team

Reading through hospitality publications about trends in hotel technology, one undoubtedly comes to conclusion that the biggest disruptive force to impact the industry in the coming years is Big Data. Anxiety and malaise start to creep in when confronted with questions like: What is your Big Data strategy? Or What are you doing to tackle Big Data? Although most of us have by now understood this nebulous buzz word (a LOT of data), what to really do with it and how to really go about Big Data remains unclear. Is it a problem of understanding the concept or the fact that, simply put, our industry is not yet ready for Big Data?

Consider the following question: Do you really need more data (today)? With the incredible amount of data already available for hotels, the real question should be - Have we successfully learned how to convert our data into concrete understanding of clear calls to action? actionable-upon knowledge? Findings of an IBM study on the efficiency of work of executives suggest that people in key positions spend 70% of their time finding data and only remaining 30% analyzing it (IBM, The 2010 IBM Global CFO Study). Two thoughts come to mind when reading this. First - how did we end up here? And, second - surely, there must be a better way.

In the last few decades, following remarkable technological advancements, hoteliers have acquired an extensive palette of systems that support the various hotel departments with their day-to-day activities. The issue now is that since all these systems are disconnected, critical performance data is being stored in multiple diverse formats and locations. This causes time-consuming data preparation efforts and disrupted communication flows. The currently rapidly changing business environment demands all departments involved in profit creation within an organisation, to act in a more concerted and efficient manner to sustain their profitability. Which they understandably can’t with the current state of affairs.

This is why SnapShot’s philosophy since the founding has been that hoteliers should first focus on optimizing their use of existing small data. What we understand as “small data” is an approach to data analytics whereby “digestible” chunks of information are presented to a user in an understandable way to enable them to make knowledge-based decisions. Take a step back and ask yourself: how easily can you trace changes to your stay restrictions and their direct impact on your hotel’s demand? How did increasing your price to match that of your competitor set influence your guest reviews? Challenging, isn’t it?

While the principle idea of Big Data, focusing on identifying new behavioral patterns in huge amounts of unstructured data is exciting, this is not going to help hoteliers solve their current burning problems. What hoteliers really need is to have all their hotel macro data aggregated and curated, in one location, accessible to all commercial stakeholders of a hotel organization. (Performance, Market Intelligence and hotel-user generated data). Simply put, use what you have, become master at managing it, start having fun at doing so and only then start aiming at integrating Big Data into your organization.

Want to learn more? Get in touch with us and continue reading our blog. In the coming weeks we are going to be posting more interesting entries on how you can save time, tame your data and increase co-working in your organization by improving your data management processes, both from technological and organizational points of view.

Your SnapShot Team