By Kevin Coleman
Data is the lifeblood of the hotel reporting, analytics and dashboards that are the output of any such business-intelligence initiative. And while high-quality data (complete, accurate and uniform) won't alone ensure the success of your hotel business-intelligence initiative, low-quality data (full of holes, errors and inconsistencies) will certainly ensure the failure of your initiative.
Too often, hotels or hotel companies allow their concerns about the poor quality of their data to prevent them from embarking upon a business-intelligence initiative at all. But business intelligence exposes the flaws in your data like nothing else can. It pulls data inconsistencies—from the highest to the most granular of levels—into “the light of day" so that they can be acknowledged and addressed. So while it seems that getting your data in order is a precursory step to implementing business intelligence, the truth is that data management and business intelligence exist in a symbiotic relationship, each strengthening the other in a continuous process of refinement.
Waiting until you have "perfect" data to begin is a mistake. Clearly, hoteliers need to be careful with early interpretations of hotel reporting and dashboards in a business-intelligence environment suspected to have data-quality issues, but this can be managed through selective exposure of users to business intelligence output and through prudent communication. And that elusive state of "perfect data" might never arrive in any case, though you can get very close with the right approach.
Hoteliers are likely to find all types of data-related issues when they embark upon a hotel business-intelligence initiative. That's because data is the outcome of our business processes (or lack thereof) and the consistency of those processes (or lack thereof) within or across business units—in our case, hotels. And data is affected by the integration of our various hotel systems as well. This all means that the correction of data issues (data management) is not a "quick fix." Rather, it's a long process that will most likely involve asking humans to change how they are doing certain things and may require attention to the configuration of our hotel systems as well. These issues take time and focus to address.
At the enterprise level as well, business intelligence provides fantastic opportunities to get started on data management. Frequently, before a business-intelligence initiative, a hotel company may have allowed methods of market segmentation, room-type classification, channel classification and such to be determined at a property level, with each property doing what makes sense for their own hotel.
Now, finding themselves in a position where corporate-level hotel intelligence is desired (for instance, needing to know how much company X produced across our hotels last year), they are confronted with this mix of data standards. Moving from this type of scenario to one with corporate data standards is facilitated by business intelligence. Through the mapping and/or aggregation of values, a business-intelligence platform can serve as a virtual "layer" of standardization across properties, producing one corporate view with standardized market segments, channels, room type classes, etc. In many cases, this "virtual" standardization is just what is needed until configuration of the source systems themselves can be standardized across the company, which is a lengthier process with more dependencies.
A properly executed business intelligence initiative provides value—it increases visibility into the factors that are affecting our business, so that we (and those around us) can make the best decisions possible. Most (if not all) of us before starting a business intelligence initiative have some rather large degree of doubt about the accuracy and completeness of our data. Those business intelligence practitioners among us know not to wait for "perfect data,” but rather to get started now on a path to near-perfect data.
Kevin Coleman is Partner & COO of Intelligent Hospitality. At Intelligent Hospitality, we're out to change hotel reporting and analytics, one mind at a time. With a goal to evolve decision-making in the hotel industry, we've developed HotelIQ Business Intelligence. Built by hoteliers for hoteliers and specifically designed to support revenue generation, HotelIQ is a one-of-a-kind business intelligence platform for hotels, hotel management companies, brands, real estate investors and anyone else vested in the performance of hotel assets. Intelligent Hospitality is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. For more information, visit:www.intelligent-hospitality.com.
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