The hospitality industry landscape has changed drastically over the past 18 months. As travel significantly dropped and customer expectations of safety and hygiene increased, hospitality professionals have been finding their way in an almost unrecognizable field. Fortunately, there is a way to navigate business decisions using an asset they already have—data.
We all love a buzzword, but business intelligence is much more than just a passing hot topic. The practice of harnessing business intelligence turns data into action through a combination of analysis, technology, and strategy. By comparing historical and current data, businesses can search for patterns and trends in customer behavior and adjust their business strategies to capitalize on those trends. Business intelligence is something all property owners know they should do, but often lack the resources to make actionable use of all the data their systems generate.
Data and Prediction
A significant component of business intelligence is using past and present data to predict future outcomes. For example, a resort could compare their occupancy during September over the past five years to the following September. Suppose a large convention has come to town for that month in the last three years, causing a spike in September reservations. Based on data, the resort can offer a special rate for guests who book early, increasing September occupancy.
By collecting the appropriate data, operators can answer any business question through business intelligence. Think of it as a Magic 8-Ball for businesses that can predict, for example, the rooms that are the most profitable, the most popular times for group travel, and the most requested add-on services. Hoteliers can use this data to find revenue-boosting opportunities like bundling popular a la carte services with bookings or offering discounted room upgrades for guests who book during a specific window.
Boosted revenue isn’t the only thing that the industry can accomplish with business intelligence. Other decisions, such as scheduling, can also see opportunities for improvement. Staffing managers who know when occupancy will be lower can schedule the appropriate amount of housekeeping staff, saving on labor costs.
Improving Department Collaboration
Prior to the pandemic, many properties were siloed. Communication and collaboration between teams wasn’t always a priority. With business intelligence, hoteliers can begin to break down those silos and encourage departments to work together towards common business goals by establishing one single source of data.
When all department managers observe and access data from the same source, they can compare notes on strengths and weaknesses and work together to develop solutions to further business goals through a collaborative effort.
Getting the Data to the Right People
In the spirit of cooperation, hoteliers need to ensure that the right data gets to the right people. Not just revenue, sales, and marketing, but nearly every manager—from food and beverage to housekeeping—can benefit from seeing data that pertains to their department and offer their feedback on problems and solutions. However, one of the trickier parts of business intelligence is presenting the data in a way that makes sense to those who don’t analyze data every day. Luckily, this can be addressed with the right software.
What to Look for in a Business Intelligence Software
A key part of business intelligence is gathering a business’s data and presenting it in a way that is easy to understand. This can be done with a software solution. Software solutions can streamline data from many different sources and offer a number of ways to sort, filter, and visualize the data. But not all business intelligence software is created equal. There are a few key features to look for:
Intuitive dashboard. A straightforward, uncomplicated interface will greatly increase the likelihood that employees will engage with the software and make the most out of its features.
Software integration. Research the software integrations that are offered and ensure that the programs a property works with are covered. There are hundreds of hotel software programs available, so it is likely that not every program that a property uses will be included. However, it’s vital to ensure key integrations are incorporated.
Great visualization. Look for a program with an easy-to-use reporting and data UX so a hotel can “slice-and-dice” data and present it in a way that is understandable for stakeholders. It’s essential to keep in mind that not every employee looking at the information is data-oriented, but that doesn’t make their input less critical when it pertains to their department.
An Established Path to Recovery
Business intelligence is the next step on the road to recovery for the hospitality industry. Executed well, it gives hoteliers the ability to somewhat predict future occupancy and a chance to pivot their strategy to maximize profits and offer guests a memorable experience. When hotels look for a software solution to add to their business intelligence strategy, they should select a program with an intuitive, easy-to-use interface that integrates with existing software and offers flexibility when sorting through data.
As the industry moves forward, businesses are facing more than just data issues. However, allocating key resources to business intelligence will help lay the foundation for a successful 2022.
About the Author
Adelle Rodriguez is the marketing director for RMS North America.