OperationsRevenue Insight Leaders: Turning Data Into Compelling Stories

Revenue Insight Leaders: Turning Data Into Compelling Stories

Hotel revenue managers face increasing expectations to drive outcomes through true data-based decision-making. The pandemic supercharged these expectations. Influencing outcomes requires process and intent beyond collecting data and making observations. Storytelling with insights can turn a tactical data keeper into a strategic revenue insight leader.

Characteristics of Revenue Insight Leaders

It takes more than collecting data to drive impact. These are the key qualities of revenue insight leaders:

  • Curious—Insatiably curious to continually ask why this and why that.
  • Data-obsessed—They want to show and understand the numbers. They aren’t satisfied with opinions or points of view.
  • Hypothesis-driven—They create hypotheses to challenge the status quo.
  • Impact-oriented—They’re not satisfied with observations.
  • Data storytellers—They know the power of a story and engage all types of audiences. It is through the retelling of stories that the power of insight changes an organization.

An insight is not an observation; it changes the status quo. A powerful insight sways opinions; it drives strategy and compels action. The good news is that there is a usable formula to build powerful insights.

  1. Identify opportunities. Start with current performance and assess.
  2. Be a great listener. By talking with business leaders at all levels; opportunities can be discovered through listening and observing.
  3. Brainstorm. Gather people in groups, such as sales leaders, marketing leaders, and digital leaders, and brainstorm what opportunities they see in the business.
  4. Estimate value. With more opportunities, determine which are the most powerful by estimating their value. Then, begin the process of looking for data to support the chosen opportunities.
  5. Identify barriers. Each of the chosen opportunities will have barriers preventing achievement. They are often based on strong emotions, such as conflict, tension, fear, or concern. It’s important to identify these, as they will become the protagonists in data storytelling.
Test Hypotheses

Now it’s time to test hypotheses. For instance, “I think by doing X, it will improve Y.” Revenue leaders are in a position to validate their hypotheses.

For each hypothesis, a team can apply the treatment to a select group of customers or channels using A-B testing or a pre-post model. If a hypothesis is really being pushed, it oftentimes doesn’t come true. The beauty of a null hypothesis is that it’s another way to look at an opportunity.

Influence Using Storytelling

Stories are great influencers, and great stories are told and retold year after year. Stories from people about the foundational reason why they did something that was discovered years ago can be inspirational and informative.

Here’s a process to follow to help produce a great story:

  1. Identify the audience. Are there any biases in the group? Prepare for any resistance.
  2. Identify the personality types. Break them into four categories: analytical, emotional, demanding, or contemplative.
  3. Identify their learning style. Are they visual learners? Are they just looking for three bullet points? Do they prefer a verbal story?
  4. Plan the delivery method. A Word document? A PowerPoint presentation? Or simply a whiteboard to speak directly to the group and write down key messages?
  5. Create a headline. It draws listeners into a story. It has to be compelling to gain attention. It’s a brief sentence or statement that provokes action.

Combine data and insights into a compelling story that garners preferred actions. The last aspect of a great story is implication. Without an implication, all a story has is an interesting fact. Drive the story toward a recommendation to take advantage of insight.
Insight with implication turns insight into action. Aspiring revenue insight leaders can use insights and stories to influence people into action and will end up having a much bigger impact in their role.

About the Author

David Warman is the chief client officer for IDeaS.

David Warman
David Warman
David Warman leads IDeaS’ Global Account Management, Client Operations, and Consulting teams. With a 30+ year track record driving customer experience marketing and revenue optimization across the hospitality industry, he has served in executive roles with Four Seasons, IHG, and Hilton.