Data Management - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly - By Matthew Goulden
Written by Matthew Goulden, CEO of Triometric, in his capacity as co-chair of the HEDNA Hotel Analytics Working Group.
Everyone in the hospitality business knows that data makes all the difference in making key decisions. Just having the data is one thing. However, what about having the actionable data you need right in front of you any time you need it? Data management is an administrative process that includes acquiring, validating, storing, protecting, and processing required data to ensure the accessibility, reliability, and timeliness of the data for its users and to ultimately make the data actionable. This idea seems like a whole lot of work. However, in essence, it should be quite simple. Ultimately, the goal is to turn data into insight, intelligence, and action, enabling faster decisions, better real-time guest experience, optimized operations, and so on.
The hotel industry struggles with managing the plethora of data it has available due to the vast number of silos the data are stored within. Hotels have data stockpiled in operational systems, in secondary platforms such as online travel agency partners, and with tertiary platforms that enable guest check-in or messaging. Trying to pull all of this data into an actionable format that hoteliers can use can become extremely difficult, especially when some of the parties holding on to the data are not keen to share or to cooperate.
There is data everywhere regarding every facet of the hotel industry, and this is a very good thing. We are now able to distill portions of this information from the operational systems we use by working with data analytics firms that can assist or enable a hotelier to fine-tune either their operations or their distribution strategy. As more and more companies offer these types of analytic services, the types of data required and the format that the data is collected in and subsequently distributed will become uniform.
When the industry opens the floodgates of data, and it can share the data across different systems and platforms we will see a remarkable transformation whereby hoteliers can use the data to become more guest-centric focusing on what guests want rather than what the hotel can offer. The capability to fully understand the lifetime value of the guest will now be within the hotelier’s grasp. By also being able to appear more customer-centric to the customer too, their product offerings will also improve in line with customer desires.
Let’s just say that the industry is weak regarding the implementation of best practices, standards, and processes. This issue indeed is not new. Due to the fragmentation of systems and platforms, it is a situation that is bound to occur. When this does happen, unfortunately, the hotelier does not have a great deal of leverage, and this is unfortunate. They tend to feel as if they are a small fish in a large pond and their “partners” are leaving them out in the cold. Hoteliers need the data in order to fully understand how to optimize their revenues and to be able to deliver exceptional guest service.
It is now time that the OTA’s and other external distribution systems, as well as social platforms, begin sharing the data that they have amassed with the hoteliers that fuel their profits. It is not only OTA’s that don’t share; it can at times be challenging to get your primary operations systems providers to play ball with each other. Work together and try to form a consortium of like-minded hoteliers to influence the hand of your technology solutions providers to deliver the data that you need to increase your business.
The picture is definitely not all doom and gloom. Some companies are opening up their data to hoteliers, and there are aggregators that help manage the immense amount of information available to make it comprehensible. We still have quite a long way to go, but with every day, the focus on the benefits of using and sharing data gets sharper and the industry gets a step closer.
The HEDNA Hotel Analytics Working Group has been formed by technology suppliers and hoteliers alike, to raise awareness of the opportunities data analysis can bring. In particular to optimize cost and conversion and, thereby, empower hoteliers to collect, store, analyze, and action their data to make intelligent decisions about their distribution strategies. At the group’s inaugural session, held during the HEDNA conference in Dublin, hoteliers and their system providers recognized that now is the time to start laying the foundations for industry-wide standards and best practices. A survey of today’s hotel data distribution landscape is the starting point for recognizing emerging impediments to optimizing distribution and developing strategies to remove them. To learn more about this initiative or to get involved, CLICK HERE.
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