By Jeff Zabin, Managing Editor
It wasn’t so long ago that hotel operators wanting to conduct data analysis had to rely on Excel spreadsheets. Unfortunately, entering massive amounts of data into a spreadsheet and then dynamically refreshing it as new data becomes available — which is all the time — is rife with challenges and quickly turns into an unwieldy mess.
Spreadsheets comprised of rows and columns of quantitative information, along with rudimentary graphical elements, tend to be poorly suited for data exploration and insights discovery. The advent of general-purpose, self-service business intelligence (BI) software solutions improved the situation, but still fell far short of meeting the needs of hotel operators, let alone providing the necessary level of technology and data integration with other core hotel solutions.
Fast forward to today and data analysis in the hospitality industry is a very different story thanks to a new breed of BI tools. These tools are engineered to serve the needs of hotel operators and other staff, including revenue managers charged with making the all-important pricing decisions upon which the financial health of the company depends.
Now, rather than spend inordinate amounts of time grappling with endless formatting, data importing and exporting, version control issues, and poor visualizations, hotel operators can utilize powerful, flexible and intuitive tools designed specifically for their industry and even their specific roles and areas of accountability. The tools allow them to focus their attention on getting the answers and insights they need to maximize operational and financial performance as well as improve the quality of the guest experience.
The best of these tools deliver real-time insights that enable hotel operators to make the best decisions quickly and accurately. Data discovery tools help answer new questions as they arise, allowing for a more proactive approach to decision making.
Even casual users can run data queries and create powerful visualizations and other content displays that are easy to consume and easy to share with other people in the organization. Seasoned analysts can go further, delving deep into the data and performing on-the-fly data analysis.
Hotel operators charged with managing properties of all sizes are harnessing the power of business intelligence to achieve faster and better access to critical information and insights. Not surprisingly, revenue managers are among those getting the most use of the solutions and deriving the greatest benefit.
By being able to visually explore, prepare and transform data into personalized performance dashboards and customized reports, users can get the answers they need at a glance and make smart, timely pricing and distribution decisions.
In fact, the best of the new breed of hotel BI solutions seamlessly integrate with the hotel’s existing revenue management platform. In many ways, the two solutions are two sides of the same coin; both are needed to progressively increase RevPAR through profit optimization.
Business intelligence can inform the decisions also made in multiple other departments and functions across the organization. The insights gained from business intelligence tools can have benefits ranging from improving marketing, sales and customer service effectiveness to generating competitive intelligence. Key revenue stakeholders can monitor hotel occupancy trends, guest demographics, market position, and channel profitability.