Hotel BI: Applying data analytics to real-life situations
When it comes to analyzing your data, relying on manual methods – i.e. using Excel spreadsheets or Google Sheets – takes too much time and is often inaccurate, fraught with human error. Hotel owners looking to accurately and efficiently improve business performance should consider implementing an automated business intelligence (BI) solution.1
BI reporting and analytics quickly integrate data from your property management system (PMS), central reservations system (CRS), revenue management system (RMS), sales and catering systems, as well as other potential external sources. In seconds you can easily compare historic, real-time, and predictive analytics, creating big picture to deeply granular views of your business. By applying BI to real-life situations, you will better understand critical pain points to make impactful improvements that optimize revenue and help grow your business.
Pain point: understanding account production
A BI tool allows you to drill down, deep into the production details of a single account. You can review day of week production to determine which days they are staying, and if those are the right days to provide your hotel the greatest benefit. And when does that group stay at your hotel? Is the spend spread throughout the year, or does it all fall in one month? Knowing how that account produces helps you to know if they are truly benefiting your hotel, or possibly displacing higher-value guests. If this is a long-term client, are they growing with you year over year? Do they bring more to you than just room revenue? A BI solution can help you understand the ratio of spend, beyond room nights, while on property. This information is invaluable, particularly during RFP pricing season.
Say for example that one of your long-time accounts is requesting a reduced year-over-year increase. You may consider acquiescing to this request because you understand them to be a great customer. But after examining this account’s day of week production, you realize they only stay on Tuesday and Wednesday nights – never hitting your shoulder nights, or staying throughout the weekend. And by digging deeper into account production by rate code, you see that they only book your standard room type. Armed with this type of fact-based data, sales managers can go back to a corporate account manager and educate them by visually showing how they’re impacting your business by only staying on Tuesday and Wednesday nights in standard rooms. You may then hold strong on the rate or negotiate more favorable terms,2 such as pushing for an increase.
Pain point: creating an optimal pricing strategy
A strong BI tool has many different reports that help your team create an optimal pricing strategy. One category of reports are the detailed pickup and pace reports. These reports provide information on two key measurements to help you spot and understand your trends.3 Pace and pickup let you determine if you need to deploy different rate strategies based on leading or lagging metrics – they show you when your demand comes, i.e. when guests are booking rooms and your rates should be strongest.
For example, if you see a trend of bookings coming in Thursday and Friday of the week prior, your rates should be strong during that peak demand time. Perhaps you investigate weekends and discover that most of your bookings come in by Thursday afternoon. If that trend is not being met, it may be time to run a promotion for the upcoming weekend. Taking this concept to a more broad level, using monthly data, you can see which months may require you to reduce rates or develop promotions to increase pickup.
Pain point: understanding your base, corporate client and group production
When you share account production and pace reports with your sales team,4 they are able to monitor year-over-year production, quickly identifying where your production is, at the segment and rate code levels, and which accounts may be producing behind. Sales managers can then get in touch with accounts to resolve what may be causing volatility in production.
Moreover, when analyzing accounts by month, you can compare budget forecast with actual on the books (OTB), for this year and the same time last year. Information like this is helpful because it allows you to create a plan for hitting your forecasted results. For example, your data may show that your group business for July is pacing behind last year. You can let sales know that July would be a good month to shift large group sales leads into, and they may have more rate flexibility for closing a deal. When Revenue Management shares this data with the Sales Team, it helps them understand why they can offer more favorable group rates in July versus a set of dates that is pacing ahead.
Pain point: creating accurate forecasts
Pace and pickup reports are critical components for more accurate forecasting and identifying booking trends.5 Initially, by understanding your production, your forecast will be more accurate. Then, by further examining pickup by day over time, you determine exactly what type of business you picked up within a specific timeframe, so you can adjust your forecast accordingly. A good reporting tool not only lets you analyze each individual year but also analyze each day’s segmentation. Looking at major business types such as group and transient, at a very granular level, even going so far as to identifying which rate code– i.e. a promotion, package, or discount – is picking up. With a detailed pickup report, you can track rooms and revenues as they book months in advance and have strategies in place when the bookings come.
Monthly market segment reports are beneficial as well, helping to show any risk you have in reaching your forecast goals. By pulling past, present, and future data in a market segment by day report, and combining it with total revenue analysis, you can really see what is taking place in your hotel compared to the same time last year. You can also quickly identify which market segments are contributing to your reservation production. This information can benefit other teams within your hotel as well. For example, if your restaurant knows how each customer segment tends to spend in food-and-beverage purchases, this can help them better plan operational short-term forecasts, as well as maintain tighter control over costs for greater business gains.
Pain point: connecting RM and marketing teams
Sharing BI with your marketing team is particularly helpful.6 When combining account production, pace and pickup data with market intelligence from marketing’s own data points – such as how many hits they have received on a promotion, how many open emails, etc. – it creates a more complete story of each promotion, helping them understand how they are impacting hotel performance.
A detailed pace report lets you know where you may be pacing behind, identifying which dates would be best to offer a promotion and fill rooms. When your marketing team has access to this intelligence, they can become more active in decision-making. They know which promotions have worked well in the past and can provide suggestions concerning which promotions to apply for a future set of dates. For instance, perhaps by digging into your pickup and pace data, you identify a pattern of midweek slumps. Your marketing team can jump into action to collaborate with local organizations and tourist attractions to promote midweek activity, like wine-tasting trips, dinner-and-concert events, or art shows, boosting revenues during those time periods.
BI tools let you analyze reservation data and revenue by geographic region, segment, ancillary spend, folio level spend, and more. This allows you to target your marketing efforts more strategically, presenting each customer with a relevant offer that is more likely to convert.
When you utilize a science-based RMS enhanced with a comprehensive BI tool, you are able to make the most of your data. And by giving every team in the hotel access to BI analytics and reports, it ensures your departments work together as a single unit,7 instead of siloed entities each pursuing their own agendas. Furthermore, meetings become much more productive, because rather than using up valuable time having revenue strategists walk through the data points, each department has already reviewed that data. So instead, they come to meetings prepared to discuss the “whys” and the “hows” of pulling in optimal revenue throughout the entire year. By taking your BI and applying it to real-life situations, you improve business performance by meeting the needs of every facet of your hotel operations.
About the Author
Len Wasserman is a Hospitality Business Leader with success in leading strategic corporate initiatives, revenue management and property general management. He has directed major projects including large system implementation to 2000+ hotels. He is known for impacting clients and developing staff. Over his 20+ year career in hospitality, he has earned awards for driving outstanding, profitable revenue growth and increasing client satisfaction on a corporate, regional and property basis. Before diving into the revenue management world, he led hotel teams in opening 3 hotels in 3 different states. Len is currently the Vice President, Customer Success at the Rainmaker Group – a Cendyn Company. A combination of people skills, operational knowledge and strength in revenue management helps hotels achieve success in our ever changing industry.
1“Leveraging Business Intelligence to Improve Hotel Performance.” Starfleet Research, 2018, www.smartdecisionguides.com/hotelbi-nev/.
2“8 Ways to Prep for Successful Hotel Negotiations.” BCD Travel Move Global Site, 4 June 2015, www.bcdtravel.com/move-global/8-ways-to-prep-for-successful-hotel-negotiations/.
3Duncan, Kevin. “The Transformative Power of BI in the Hotel Industry: By Kevin Duncan.” Hospitality Net, 30 May 2019, www.hospitalitynet.org/opinion/4093575.html.
4“The Data That Can Help You Win More Group Business.” Hotel Online, 12 Sept. 2017, www.hotel-online.com/press_releases/release/the-goldmine-of-data-that-can-help-you-win-more-group-business/.
5Landman, Patrick. “Hotel Pick-Up Report & Booking Curves.” 4Hoteliers.Com, 9 Jan. 2010, www.4hoteliers.com/features/article/4737.
7“Bringing Predictive Analytics to the Hotel Industry: Travel Industry News & Conferences.” EyeforTravel, 2015, www.eyefortravel.com/revenue-and-data-management/bringing-predictive-analytics-hotel-industry.