Conferences and EventsHITEC 2022Asking the Right Questions: Knowland CEO on Applying Hospitality Data

Asking the Right Questions: Knowland CEO on Applying Hospitality Data

In recognition of his leadership in technology innovation, Jeff Bzdawka, who is CEO of the data-as-a-service provider Knowland, was honored at the recent HITEC 2022 in Orlando by induction into the HFTP International Hospitality Technology Hall of Fame. There, Bzdawka shared with LODGING his company’s meetings recovery forecast, explained how competitive set intelligence specific to the meeting and event segment can support sales, and stressed the importance of using data geared to the customer, “depending on who the customer is,” and how Knowland is leveraging partnerships.

What does Knowland do as a data-as-a-service provider to offer insights on meetings and events for hospitality?

We first collect data on actualized meetings and events using collection and aggregation methods, including field reporting and automated methods of customer and non-customer data collection in primary, secondary, and tertiary markets, as well as our historical database of actualized events, which is the industry’s largest. In this way, we provide competitive set intelligence about groups and events, much like SDR does for the overall industry. As part of this, we not only identify the organization that booked a particular group or event, but also the contact person who booked it. Taken together, clients gain actionable insights and qualified leads, so they can identify new opportunities and support their staff with the intelligence that makes it easier to pursue the right business and sell to the right person. This is especially important now, while—as our data shows—many hotel owners remain reluctant to build back their sales resources.

What is your data suggesting about the meeting and event segment’s recovery?

We introduced our meetings recovery forecast in November of last year. It was the first time Knowland did it using historical data plus current trending data to predict the future. What we’re seeing is a nice return of business. Month-over-month and year-over-year numbers, we show a nearly 300 percent increase in year-over-year May transactions. By the end of this year, we’re projecting just over 60 percent recovery when compared to 2019. Next year, it should be nearly 85 percent for the year overall, but fully recovered by the middle part of next year. In 2024, we expect it to be 10 percent over 2019.

What is the key to leveraging company data into actionable insights about customers?

That depends on how you define a customer. It can be an individual guest or the people who bring demand for more than one individual, like a corporate meeting planner, an association meeting planner, or an executive assistant booking rooms. It can also be the hoteliers themselves. Talking to meeting planners, one of their biggest complaints or frustrations is they’re not getting responses to their requests for proposals. Yet, when you talk to hoteliers, one of their number one complaints is receiving too many RFPs that don’t make sense. To overcome this disconnect and make more educated decisions about the actions they should take, they need to ask better questions. Using data based on better questions, we can help the meeting planners understand which hotels are a better fit for their request and therefore more likely to respond so they can send fewer requests. Similarly, on the hotel side, we can use data to help them understand who’s more likely to book a piece of business and hopefully establish that relationship and discussion before an RFP is even generated.

In what ways is Knowland doing more to provide actionable data?

At this point, the industry as a whole has almost too much data and it’s very fragmented. The industry needs to do a better job of bringing those data sets together. One thing we are doing is more partnering and developing a deep partner network to integrate our data set with other companies. Last September, we announced a partnership with Amadeus Sales and Event Management to integrate data from the Amadeus Sales and Event Management system with our meetings and events database for our customers. We also just announced a technology partnership with Uniguest, resulting in the Knowland Connector, an interface making data integration with the Knowland platform seamless across property-level systems.

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