Recently our Head of Education was speaking to a hotelier about the best way to set up and use his new SnapShot Analytics dashboard. Their conversation started by the hotelier admitting, “OK this is great! But once I see the data, I’m not sure what to do with it.” He's not alone! Many hoteliers are looking for better ways to understand what's happening and what will most likely happen at their hotels.
If you’ve ever felt a bit lost staring at reams of big data, don’t worry you aren’t alone. As a hotel data analytics company, we're certainly familiar with this challenge many hoteliers face. In fact, most of us in the hospitality industry just aren’t used to seeing such a huge quantity of aggregated data. There is so much raw information, it’s hard to know where to start.
The best thing to do is take a deep breath, have a long sip of your coffee, and, for the moment, turn off the analytical part of your brain and flex your inner creativity!
A creative approach to data?
The overall goal of any analytics is to give you the most accurate understanding of what is, or might, be occurring that affects your hotel. The specific reports you’re most familiar with range widely from department to department, but at the end of the day the end objective is all the same: improve revenue. By taking a step back and considering data from a creative, holistic, standpoint you can utilize data to find new ideas and new ways of understanding your business.
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When we approach an issue from a new perspective we allow ourselves not only to be inspired but to help foster a culture of inquiry, not advocacy. This means that your team will be more likely to consider new solutions and it will enable ideas to grow.
Most importantly, by correctly using the data tools at your disposal, much of the risk associated with “creative new ideas” will be removed from the equation. This will help you turn these creative approaches into actionable decisions.
1. Let data inspire creative new ideas.
Long gone are the days of waiting until the night auditors finish crunching the daily metrics in order to have an accurate picture of the daily trends.
To cope with today's immense amount of raw information, we all too often become regimented in how we and our teams look at it. You probably have the same 5 reports pulled up that you did 5 years ago. Yet with new ways of simplifying and visualizing all this information, we no longer need to be so conservative.
By allowing yourself and your team to approach all this newly available information in a different way, you’ll often find creative new ways of utilizing your reports. Frequently this will lead to discovering trends or potential opportunities that you would not have otherwise noticed. With the right creative ideas, you will be able to see everything from the average demographics of people clicking on your website, to how a storm is going to affect your RevPAR. With all the new technology the only limit on the data’s practical applications is your imagination.
2. Creativity enables good ideas to grow.
For years, hoteliers were limited to the small data they had at their disposal. Now anyone with the internet can access vast amounts of big data. This means that, prior to making decisions, your team can always be informed, not just of trends in your hotel, but of trends in the local and international markets.
Unlike in the past, where trying new creative ideas was quite risky, predictive data enables these ideas to be tried and tested safely before they are implemented. After being successfully tested, you can then use real-time data to identify the components that perform the best and optimize them over time. With the help of a dashboard, all the factors that affect these new ideas are easily visible.
3. Turn your creative ideas into actionable decisions.
As great as a new creative approach might be, it's useless if it doesn’t have practical purpose in your day-to-day. In the previous sections we’ve looked at some examples of potentially innovative and new approaches to your already existing data. Now let’s look at how those examples were turned into actionable decisions across the industry.
Denihan gave their frontline staff access to guest analytics via smartphone which increased their ability to anticipate guests needs and requests. By making this cross-departmental it allowed for all potential guest desires to be anticipated regardless of department. (e.g. Front desk can inform F&B or concierge in real-time that a guest is likely to order room service at 2am.)
Starwood optimized their pricing by analyzing local and worldwide economic factors, events, and weather reports. By using a bit of creativity they started looking not at the individual hotel’s small data but at the big data surrounding their core target markets. In one specific example they had their Caribbean locations look at the weather trends of their core customer base in North America. They noticed that these weather patterns greatly impacted what guests were willing to pay, so they structured their system to offer prompts when they should adjust prices or launch marketing promotions. This strategy led to an increase nearly 5% RevPAR increase. (Which is perhaps a part of why Marriott was so keen to merge with them...)
Marriot uses unstructured and structured datasets (e.g. weather reports and local events schedules) to forecast demand. This enables them to set prices with optimum efficiency worldwide. This is of the utmost importance in today’s markets as our potential guests are constantly scanning price comparison services and the average cost of winning new guests is on the rise.
It’s easy to get swept up in the technical jargon and the seemingly overwhelming nature of spreadsheets and charts. But fear not, it's easily manageable, it just takes a couple things. First, your data must be well-organized and easily accessible. Here, we can't help but recommend trying out a tool like SnapShot Analytics to help you better understand how all your data is correlated. Once you've done that, all it takes is a little creative elbow grease from you and your team, and before you know it you'll get some really interesting and informative insights out of your data. There's never been a better time to try out new creative ideas with the information your hotel has access to. So what are you waiting for? Give it a shot!
Now that you’ve had your coffee and started thinking about data in a new way, let us show you The Best Ways to Use Hotel Data.