The use of data in the hotel industry is growing ever more sophisticated, and experts on data and revenue management recently shared their takes on where they think things are going.
HOUSTON—Data analytics are a hugely important and evolving facet of the hotel industry.
That’s the belief shared by multiple speakers at HSMAI’s recent Revenue Optimization Conference.
Speakers during the “The future state and opportunities of hotel analytics” panel said a higher degree of analysis of data is a key growth step for revenue managers across the hotel industry.
Here are some top takeaways from that panel.
1. Data won’t be put in silos
A wealth of data already exists in the hotel industry, said Alex Dragan, director of analytics for Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, but that data isn’t yet shared and synthesized in a meaningful way.
“We’re still building a lot of separate silos for data,” he said. “We sometimes lack the vehicles to connect data.”
He said the more data a company looks to process, the more of a financial investment it becomes.
“Then it’s a question of what’s the return on investment on analytics,” Dragan said.
2. Data collection, aggregation more sophisticated
Jessica Haywood, manager of research and development for STR, Hotel News Now’s parent company, said the methods for how some companies deal with data were surprisingly unsophisticated even in the recent past.
“Even just two years ago, we had some hotel companies faxing in data,” she said.
She said the future treatment of data can grow by leaps and bounds with the use of tools like artificial intelligence and machine learning, but the hotel industry is not using those things as much as industries are.
“What we’re seeing is they’re not being used in this industry to the extent of others,” Haywood said. “But it varies depending on the sophistication (of a company).”
3. Visualization is vital
Michael Klein, executive director of revenue performance strategy for MGM Resorts International, said one of the keys for evolving analytics is finding more streamlined and useful ways of presenting data, layering it from different sources in a useful way.
“It’s about how you blend them together in a way to get actionable intelligence,” he said. “Analytics is about pointing out those ‘a-ha’ moments.”
He said that will likely require transitioning from spreadsheets to visualization tools, but that could be a considerable amount of work for some companies to do in house.
4. Analysis must lead to personalization
Multiple panelists noted the hotel industry lags behind others in its use of analytics, and further employing it can lead to several business improvements already seen in areas like online retail.
Klein said amassing and synthesizing information on guests and personal guests will be hugely important in efforts to improve conversion rates.
“If we all went to Amazon.com and put in the same search term, we’d get different results,” he said. “And that’s based on what Amazon knows about you. That next step is true conversion optimization.”
5. People will be the key
While there is a lot of talk about potential tools or techniques like machine learning to take data analysis to the next level, Klein said the real key will be more human.
“Talent is the No. 1 issue in getting to where we need to go,” he said.
He said that will mean the hotel industry will need to look beyond its owner borders for the type of people who can do in-depth analysis in the way it will be needed in the future. And that also means paying well enough to lure top talent.
“The hospitality industry will have to look elsewhere,” Klein said.