Hotels have always had “databases” of information – guest addresses, operations, suppliers and loyalty members. Today, just inside one hotel, servers are filled with information, but without integration and strategy, you’re left with a bunch of data that sits in separate clouds. It’s time to break away from the binary methodology of collection. For 2019, hotels need to think about data living in an ecosystem that lives, connects and breathes based on the ebb and flow of the entire community.
Think to the future
Data used to be part of a database. Now data is part of an ecosystem. Guest data comes into a hotel’s ecosystem from multiple channels and devices. The volume, variety and velocity of this information feeds the ecosystem and gives hotels a deeper understanding of their overall business. Today, a hotel’s focus should be on connecting systems with the goal of looking at a more predictive and prescriptive future. It’s about looking ahead vs. the rear view.
Almost everything had changed in hospitality, as well as the wider world. The theory and practice of databases is old school and nostalgic. Is your hotel embracing the age of the ecosystem?
Passive to active
The structure of a database needs to be established before any data is welcomed in. As the database fills, it is put to the use that has already been defined and any changes to the structure require blueprinting. An ecosystem reacts to the data it absorbs, it creates connections which might not be obvious, it creates its own structure.
How flexible is your approach to data? If you know in advance what you want the data to show, stick with databases. If you want to be surprised, think ecosystem.When building, state example use cases of sample insights you might gain from an open, intelligent framework.
Integrate your data
An ecosystem comprises everything around it, working in harmony to the benefit of all. A database exists in isolation. Even when databases are merged with each other, the result is simply a larger database which remains detached from those around it. True integration requires 2-way connections with data feeding into each system, talking to each other.
Do you really have a total overview of everything relevant to your hotel – the ecosystem – or are you still thinking of your hotel in separate databases?
Evolve and adapt
By its very nature, an ecosystem changes and adapts. Small changes to certain contributions to the ecosystem can lead to big changes elsewhere. We need to apply this logic to our databases, which are always fixed based on the input and output. Databases run in the background without our knowledge and nowadays form the basis of our day-to-day activity. By evolving how we use and learn from our databases, we are adapting its function and activity based on external changes and pressures. This, in turn, allows us to align our internal strategy and processes based on the guests’ needs.
You are stronger, together
Databases need architects to build and maintain them. But individuals are a massive contributor to the ecosystem. Staff shape the guest experience, guests respond to staff interactions, the ecosystem adapts accordingly. Each department needs to see itself as part of that ecosystem, contributing to and benefitting from those around it. Are staff aware of your hotel’s aims and achievements? How wedded are you to your departmental structures? When was the last time your entire staff talked shop together to look holistically at data trends and reports?
Thinking about your guest systems as an ecosystem of data-driven insights can prompt new conversations and ways of thinking. Internally, staff can be engaged with the ecosystem and established ways of doing things can be challenged. In today’s hyperactive and hypercompetitive hotel industry, hotels still wedded to the database are heading to the endangered list. Embracing the ecosystem is table stakes for those wishing to thrive.