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Investing in Hotel Distribution Analytics –Seven Considerations not to Overlook

Posted By Administrator, Friday, May 10, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, May 14, 2019
Investing in Hotel Analytics

Distribution data is an invaluable resource for hoteliers, but many don’t consider the challenges that are involved in implementing and analyzing it.  The hotel industry has an enviable variety and volume of data to work with. Every customer leaves a data trail from the moment they begin their search, then complete a booking to the moment they check out. However, accessing and analyzing data generated across today’s complex distribution landscape and turning it into actionable insights is challenging for hoteliers of all sizes. To become more data-driven, hoteliers must make targeted investments in traditional and emerging analytics tools, processes and skills. This requires an appreciation of the bigger data picture and the options and approaches available. HEDNA’s Hotel Analytics Working Group has just released a white paper to address this need.  “Investing in Hotel Analytics” outlines the key factors hoteliers should consider when making investment choices to improve their analytics capabilities.

This is the backdrop to the collaboration taking place among HEDNA members that include travel technology suppliers and hotel companies. The Hotel Analytics Working Group was formed to:

  • Raise awareness of how electronic distribution data is being used (survey)
  • Identify opportunities for improvements in data usage and analytics (this paper)
  • Recommend best industry practices (to be published later this year).

The group’s first paper, documenting the findings of an extensive survey into the distribution landscape, is the foundation for this second paper which details the considerations for “Investing in Hotel Analytics”.

With analytics, hotel companies can achieve new levels of precision in their distribution channel mix to optimize occupancy, rate and profits. While the value in analytics is recognized, many hoteliers are unsure how to make the most of their data. Investment in platforms, tools and skills is required that companies may not have experience in. Every hotel company is different, so there is no one size fits all, but this paper explains the key considerations for taking a data vision to reality, with some practical advice.

After a general introduction to the various types of analytics, the paper details seven fundamental factors that underpin any adoption or strengthening of analytics across an organization:

  1. Use Cases – these are helpful examples in guiding not only the questions that analytics needs to answer, but also what data is required and from which source. (Section 5)
  2. Data Integration – outlining the five considerations when using and integrating data from multiple source systems, such as booking trend analysis and revenue reporting. (Section 6)
  3. Data Quality – getting correct and complete data to analyse is critical to getting the right answers. This section addresses a data quality framework. (Section 7)
  4. Data Storage – managing capacity and data volume for the entire information lifecycle. A data storage framework encompasses data security, data privacy, and data retention, all of which are critical to get right. (Section 8)
  5. Data Access – who has access to what data needs to be carefully monitored and controlled in the context of privacy, regulation and security. This is also about empowering the right users to query the data, while not burdening others with more than they need, and the framework for feeding other data systems for advanced analytics as needed. (Section 9)
  6. Analytics Skillsets – having the right people with the right skillsets to analyze and apply the data in the right way. This section addresses the merits of developing in-house skills as well as how to develop outsourced relationships with data specialists where resources are limited. (Section 10)
  7. Analytics Tools -- getting the right tools that match business needs to facilitate the transition from reactive to more pro-active decision-making based on real data is the crux in making the right investment choices.  This section covers a checklist of considerations for users and other stakeholders. (Section 11)

This paper offers some basic help and hands-on guidance to help hoteliers make considered investments in the development of their analytic capabilities to meet the diverse and complex demands of today’s competitive hospitality climate. The full 33 page report can be downloaded here from the HEDNA website.

More about HEDNA Hotel Analytics Working Group
The Working Group is co-chaired by travel experts from Triometric, Excella and NTTData while direct liaison with the HEDNA Board is provided by IDeaS. Hotel companies who are members include Accor, IHG, Wyndham, WorldHotels and Rosewood.  About 50 HEDNA member companies, consultants and academics are active in the Group’s discussions and work program. A number of them have contributed their industry expertise to the “Survey Findings Report” (published 2018) and this new paper “Investing in Hotel Analytics”. The next phase of the Working Group is to explore and document Best Practice recommendations.

HEDNA (Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association) was founded in 1991 and is dedicated to the advancement of hospitality distribution through strategic collaboration and knowledge sharing. The next HEDNA Distribution Conference takes place in Madrid, 21 – 22 May.

Tags:  analytics  business intelligence  distribution  Excella  NTTData  Triometric 

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1,053 hoteliers share their struggles with data and analytics

Posted By HEDNA Brand Journalist Nick Vivion, Wednesday, January 16, 2019

This article focuses on a few salient points from the Hotel Analytics whitepaper from our Hotel Analytics Working Group. Read the full white paper for more on hotelier attitudes towards data and analytics.


In one of the most far-reaching surveys on the state of data and analytics in hotels, our Hotel Analytics Working Group surveyed 1,053 hoteliers representing over 40,000 hotels and management companies. The sheer number of responses shows that the topic remains very much top-of-mind across the industry.


The objective of the survey was to quantify current practice in data collection, storage, and usage across independents, chains, and management companies, as well as test respondents’ overall data satisfaction. The survey reveals an industry still finding its footing with data. Here are three of the most noteworthy findings around the ongoing opportunities and challenges of data in the hospitality industry.


Quality data and systems integration remain elusive


When looking to unlock commercial value and data, the top two challenges identified by hoteliers were the quality of data and systems integration. These two issues are inextricably linked; one of the greatest challenges of integrating both internal and external systems is the quality of data shared between them.


Hoteliers identify the most significant challenges to data availability in their organizations.


When one system doesn't directly connect with another, data must be routed through an integration; this complicates adoption as it requires time and capital. And when data is routed back and forth from internal systems to external systems, there is data drop off that affects data quality.


Take a single booking as an example. Since a reservation goes through multiple systems, it’s often the case that essential data, such as time of reservation, channel or guest preferences, never makes it through the process intact. The PMS loses essential details, and the data is now problematic to integrate into other sources for further insight. This affects the guest experience and, in the short-term, eliminates opportunities for additional revenue. In the long term, it skews data and makes it less useful for aggregate trend tracking.


Data captured but not always used


Data inundates most hoteliers -- from internal systems, social media platforms, vendors, and third-party channels, there is data overwhelm. In fact, only 3.89% of respondents across categories identified having sufficient data infrastructure as a challenge to data availability.

 

Yet, it remains much easier to capture data than it is to use it; availability isn't analysis. This is partially exacerbated by the staying power of spreadsheets, as seen in the graphic below.


Survey data showing which tools hoteliers use to store and analyze data.


Without the right tools to analyze multiple data sources quickly and easily, the allure of using data to drive decisions is diminished. While powerful for analyzing ad hoc data, spreadsheets with stale, out-of-date data can make insights less relevant and representative of the current state of business.


This temporal disconnect between a spreadsheet and real-time data is a “perfect storm” for bad decisions made from faulty data, says Ash van der Spuy from Altis:


“The perfect storm is the scenario where a spreadsheet contains both good data from a data warehouse and bad quality data and incorrect formulae input by analysts, which is then used by Management to make decisions. Since some of the data is from the data warehouse, the results are taken with high regard and decisions are made with confidence.”


The first step toward better data usage is understanding the limitations of specific data storage techniques:


  • A spreadsheet is easy-to-implement but has less robust analytical capabilities and risks inaccuracies through irregular updates of data.

  • A database is familiar and accessible but doesn’t usually provide a multi-faceted view into business performance.

  • A standalone data warehouse stores large amounts of data from many sources/databases and offers a deeper relational framework to analyze data. Data warehouses are optimized to perform complex queries across massive data sets that would otherwise max out a database’s resources.

  • Business intelligence tools layer analytics and visualization capabilities on a given collection of data sources.


Data warehousing and business intelligence tools are the most robust, but also require a relatively sophisticated data practice.


As revealed in the survey, independent hotels and management companies still have room to grow their own analytics capabilities. The distributed nature of analytics at chains underscore some potential blind spots when analytics sits at the property, regional, and departmental level. Also, with some chains handling all analytics from HQ, there may be some capability disparity between the home office and individual properties.


Survey data showing the analytics capabilities across hotel categories.


More collaboration -- and transparency -- needed


Collaboration is necessary to transition from capture-only to a capture-and-analyze approach. Moving to a data-driven decision process has plenty of upside: hoteliers can adapt quickly, in real-time, to changing market dynamics.


A chasm exists between third-party channels provide and hoteliers when it comes to sharing data. The survey found that many channels provide low-to-no data reporting. Hoteliers thus grapple with blind spots in their data and often must extrapolate demand trends based on incomplete historical data.

Data shows low data penetration of other distribution channels with over a third reporting No Access of Metasearch, late Booking or Wholesale platforms.


To resolve this issue, more collaborative relationships can bring the transparency that delivers data-driven results. This is an ongoing challenge, as certain vendor categories either prefer to withhold data or have under-invested in data capabilities of their own.


Hoteliers are also seeking solutions to deliver on the promise of interconnected data sources, requiring focus to shift more on how to collaborate across data sources -- and put available data to work. This complexity requires collaboration, says Luis Segredo of HAPI:


"Data and system complexity in the global hospitality market has undergone exponential growth in recent years. Traditional sources of operational data from property systems like the PMS can be augmented by the vast volume of data from an array of outside sources, such as IoT systems, social activity, and publicly available data points."


Without data transparency and collaboration across technologies and vendors, there’s less power in data captured by hotels.


Looking ahead


When vetting vendors, available integrations and data strategy should be a core part of the conversation.


Hoteliers should leverage whatever pressure points available to encourage more data sharing among channel partners -- and to reward those partners that provide at least weekly reports. Anything longer than a week and the data gradually loses some of its power to help hoteliers price more profitably.


At HEDNA, we strive to be an active forum for dialogue and collaboration between the suppliers and users of hotel technology. Such a constructive environment leads to more formal standards in data management from a distribution perspective. To keep this conversation going, we need further engagement between subject matter experts from the vendor and hotel groups. Only once we have a common language and approach can we make begin to unlock the latent commercial value of a hotel’s data.


To see the complete results of the hotel analytics working group’s survey, download the white paper.

Contribute to the discussion with vendors and hoteliers at our next conference in Los Angeles. More info here.

Tags:  analytics  hotel data 

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