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'Off the Shelf' or 'Have it Your Way'? How Hoteliers Should Shop for Business Intelligence

Standardized BI reporting restricts creativity while a customized approach to reports, dashboards, charts and graphs presents data to hotel operators in ways that make sense to each property or brand.
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The purpose of business intelligence software is problem solving. The data derived can be analyzed to deliver actionable information that helps hotel owners and operators make more informed business decisions. With a single source of truth across the portfolio, hoteliers hope to budget better, forecast further, and cut costs more consistently to remain competitive in the industry.

While this sounds simple enough, knowing which business intelligence solution is right for a hotel or multi-property enterprise can be taxing. Most solutions on the hospitality market today feature “standardized reporting” to capture data and organize it for decision makers. Using templated reports,   users select and view information from a pre-set list. While this is a simplified and consistent approach to report generation, all hotel companies using that software are viewing report data the same way. This approach may be convenient, but it certainly is not flexible. It limits “out-of-the-box” thinking and restricts creativity.

What many hoteliers prefer is “customized reporting,” or a way to look at business intelligence “their way.” They want reports constructed in a manner that makes the most sense to them, with actionable insights based on individual requirements. By leveraging flexible, customizable BI software, users have access to the information they need — and they can craft the reports themselves to drive unique insights.

Often hoteliers tell me that it’s their customized BI reporting that inspires their creativity and gives them a competitive advantage knowing their perceptions are unique. For instance, a senior vice president of finance at a large hotel management company, said he had to manually build custom daily performance reports at the request of the owner because the standardized BI software used only presented the information one way. It was a daunting task that took several hours to compose each morning, every morning, without fail. Now using customized BI, he is delivering owner specific reports via an automated process. Furthermore, reports are being run by region, brand and property, giving the company a performance snapshot for the entire portfolio. In a word, he calls the tool “remarkable.”

Data Visualization & AI

In addition to customization, hotel operators are finding BI solutions appealing that deliver visualizations for reports on demand based on simple AI commands. By simply typing “Show Me Room Revenues by State” or “. . . by property” within the AI search feature, data can accurately be presented in a compelling, relevant, and easy-to-understand “visual” format.

Leveraging AI within BI links relevant data elements (number of rooms rented, ADR, RevPAR, occupancy, rooms out of order, etc.) with a list of properties or brands, enabling finance teams to analyze accurate information in visually compelling ways. It also configures data regionally, giving operators a performance snapshot portfolio wide, as well as by region, brand, and property. The drag-and-drop environment of a customized AI + BI solution will create stunning visualizations based on the data entered. It’s this type of scalability and flexibility that is disrupting hospitality and changing the way BI is delivered for the foreseeable future.

Eye-Opening Business Intelligence Statistics:

  • Data visualization is one of the top three business intelligence trends in 2023. (Source: BI Survey)
  • U.S. businesses lose $100 billion every year due to data inaccuracy. (Source: Accenture)
  • Data analytics makes decision-making 5x faster for businesses. (Source: Better Buys)
  • The global business intelligence market will grow to $33.3 billion by 2025. (Source: Report Linker)

Effective data organization makes reporting easier and allows for more time to digest key findings. Via easy-to-build dashboards, charts, and visualizations, BI + AI can help hoteliers better navigate the future. Even without AI, strong visualization options are a major component of successful business intelligence.

Competitive advantage is a core benefit of BI and I’m continually amazed seeing the creative ways operators are analyzing data when they have the tools that allow them to do so.  

As we enter the 2023 tradeshow season, hoteliers should shop for solutions knowing what they want to get out of their data strategy.  A BI platform should have industry standard “templated” reports plus the ability to create customized analytics that provide unique insight and competitive advantage.

About the Author
Cam Troutman is Vice President of Aptech Computer Systems Inc., the only provider of a fully integrated enterprise accounting, business intelligence and planning ecosystem to the hospitality industry. Aptech’s Business Intelligence, Enterprise Accounting, and Budgeting & Forecasting solutions help hoteliers at the corporate and property levels understand their financial and operational data for faster goal achievement.

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