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Getting on the Same Page: How Holistic Data Strategies Drive Improved Performance

Maximizing hotel performance hinges on strategic data integration and unified operational goals, driving improved decision-making and guest experiences.

Developing a winning tech stack has quickly become a major priority in hospitality. Hoteliers have been dutifully improving their data management practices by leveraging new tools, but these capabilities must be strategically planned and easily accessible. Unfortunately, critical information and tools are often locked behind the “walls” separating departments–walls hoteliers can easily dismantle with the right tech strategy. 

All too often, operators invest in technology with lofty goals for future growth only to fail to set clear expectations for their technology and how it will be used. Consider who within your organization is the final consumer of the insights gained through the data you collect. What avenues are available to them to access and share this information with others? And what barriers prevent your hotel’s functional leaders from sharing insights among departments? These are just some questions operators must ask to maximize their data strategy.

Data Freshness

Data is the key ingredient fueling your hotel’s tech solutions, and like most ingredients, it is best served fresh. New data on incoming bookings, competitor rates, upcoming events, or available occupancy is invaluable and immediately actionable when applied to hotel operations. The challenge facing most hoteliers lies in finding ways to consolidate, synthesize, and deliver this information or findings to the departments that need it in a timely manner.

There is simply no time today to wait for data to be transferred and validated between departments so that they can act on their insights. Quality data collection and analysis requires input from multiple people and departments. As such, hotel operators should strive to standardize data collection with processes, training, and documentation to ensure consistent staff inputs in their departmental systems. This standardization reduces “noisy” outlier data that impacts cross-departmental reporting and decision-making. 

For example, a hotel’s front office team has a tremendous influence on guest information on property. Correctly assigned rate codes, proper handling of walk-ins and no-shows, and supporting the property’s pricing strategy at the front desk can impact everything from analytics to staffing levels. The problem stems from a lack of understanding of the overall impact of the system input “shortcuts” they may be taking. The agents aren’t maliciously trying to sabotage data integrity but are unaware of the potential downstream effect. This further supports the concept that the entire hotel team is responsible for creating the cleanest possible data.

Group sales leaders must also take a more structured approach when blocking groups to ensure the best possible use of available rooms. All leads and inquiries should be entered into a property’s sales and catering system promptly to understand the true demand of M&E business. In addition, business travel managers must rein in the “exceptions” made to accommodate corporate travelers, as these decisions may create further displacement that the optimizations were intended to avoid.

Unified Goals

These tips can help hotels improve the freshness and value of the data supporting their operations strategy. When business is blocked correctly across guestrooms and event spaces, previously disparate departments can better coordinate and make data-based decisions that improve overall profitability. Additionally, this coordination can lead to improved guest experiences. When operators trust shared data, it’s easier to know if rooms are appropriately sized or if breakout and meal spaces are being used optimally.  Reaching this point requires more than effective technology–it necessitates motivated operators.

In today’s operational environment, hotel departments are often not aligned regarding overarching goals. Sales teams are frequently incentivized by exceeding their revenue goals, while general managers are rewarded when profitability surpasses expectations. This can create conflict between departments as big topline revenue numbers from a sales opportunity don’t always align with what’s most profitable. Hotels must create a unified set of goals and mutual objectives between department leaders to alleviate this. 

Peter Drucker famously said, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” However, it also requires all stakeholders to use the same measuring stick to track their progress. Operators should work across departments to develop and monitor goals and objectives that align with the property’s overall goals (ideally profitability, in many cases). With properly aligned goals and data driving a better understanding of the likelihood of achieving these milestones, the friction among commercial teams is significantly reduced. Hotel operations thrive when everyone is pulling in the same direction.

This process is not one that hoteliers can “set and forget.” It starts with identifying which systems (both procedures and technologies) are critical to achieving their strategy and requires a holistic view when planning infrastructure upgrades. By ensuring all these vital systems "play nice" with each other upfront, operators can gain more valuable insight into their property than ever before and mitigate future challenges before they appear.



Steve Green has been at IDeaS for eight years in a variety of roles, including Product Marketing, Account Management, and his current role, Solutions Engineer. He has more than 25 years of hospitality experience in all sizes of operations, in both on-property and above-property roles—primarily in commercial functions. In addition, he is an advisory board member, frequent lecturer, and adjunct instructor at the University of Wisconsin – Stout School of Hospitality Leadership.

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