How hotels can make smarter and faster business decisions | SiteMinder | Hotel Commerce

BySteven I. Green

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Given the pressure for modern hoteliers to keep up with competition, adapt to shifting guest behaviours, and grow revenue – the ability to make the right pricing and distribution decisions fast is business defining.

However with so much to tackle each day it can be difficult to gain clarity. And without proper insights or the time to spend on analysis, you may never know if the choice you made was the best one.

Data is the key to unlocking powerful decision making and hotel commerce success, but it’s extremely difficult to identify, manage, and action the right data if it’s spread across multiple systems and sources. Faced with this complexity, you may be tempted to sit back and make do, but doing nothing is not an option in today’s industry!

The good news is that there are solutions that remove the complexity, by connecting once fragmented data and producing digestible reports that you can use as foundations for planning and executing your business strategies.

In this blog we’ll unpack some of the best ways you can ease the strain and take more confident actions at your hotel via data, with less time and effort.

What are the keys to good decision making?

Put simply, to make the best decision at your hotel you need to have the right knowledge at the right time. We’re sure you’ve heard the very true cliches ‘knowledge is power’ and ‘timing is everything’.

At a hotel, knowledge comes in the form of data – your property is a treasure trove of insights if you have the right tools to access and analyse it. We’ll dig into this later.

First things first though. Simply having information isn’t all it takes. You also need a clear plan of what you want to do and why you’re doing it. It’s helpful to ask yourself questions like:

  • What am I trying to achieve?
    For example: I want achieve an uptick in my RevPAR
  • What is the desired outcome?
    For example: Improve the overall profitability of the business
  • What can I do to make it happen?
    For example: Can I add extras or create promotions to drive more direct bookings?
  • What could go wrong?
    For example: Will I reach the wrong audience?
  • Am I missing anything?
    For example: Who needs to help me execute?

By answering these questions you’ll naturally have more options on the table, allowing you to identify the correct path of action for your hotel.

Keep in mind that results don’t always indicate the quality of a decision. The future is always uncertain – a good decision can turn sour and a bad decision can end up bearing fruit.

But that’s exactly why data is so important. The more you know and the quicker you can access that information, the less room you leave for unexpected errors.

So let’s explore data and decision making.

Hotel data: The why, what, and how

Why is hotel data so important for decision makers?

Data is the only way modern hoteliers can succeed in an industry that has become increasingly fast-paced. Being able to sell inventory for the maximum value each and every day requires a lot of real-time intelligence.

You need quick and accurate data so you can effectively:

  • Connect the right channels
  • Attract the right guests
  • Price your rooms optimally
  • Set up promotions
  • Create enticing packages
  • Sell the right message

For example, if one of your connected channels is experiencing high cancellation rates or produces less profitable bookings, you can look at replacing it with another channel or try to increase your direct bookings instead.

When it comes to guests, data can help you move away from generic marketing campaigns that will deliver limited success, to targeted campaigns with messages and offers that resonate with the right travellers.

Data is not only important for making the right decision now, it also helps you in the future when you can look at past results to see what changes you need to make.

What data should hotels be focusing on?

Ultimately, your goal is to increase your revenue and profit. You can only make decisions that positively impact your revenue once you have the data to answer questions like those below:

  • Which booking channels are the most valuable to me?
  • What’s my ADR and average LOS?
  • What’s my booking split between domestic and international?
  • Who are my most profitable guests?
  • What are my competitors doing?
  • How are we performing compared to last month?

For example, without clear comparative data between weeks, months, or years you’ll never know the true nature of growth at your business or what you can do to drive further success.

Property performance data and guest data are both cornerstones of operating a hotel management team that works both smart and fast.

How can hoteliers use data to make smarter and faster decisions?

This is the true crux of the discussion and in the past this may have been much harder to answer. The problem for hoteliers is that, traditionally, data has been spread across many different systems and offline sources – making it very complex and time consuming to collate, analyse, and action with accuracy and confidence.

The good news is that, today, you don’t need to be a data scientist or hold a degree in economics to run your business to the highest standard. You also don’t have to spend an age collecting and analysing it, as that would defeat the purpose of having it anyway.

With the right tools, data can be at your fingertips, easily plucked and digested. Technology solutions that automate and integrate are the key, and managing them via a single platform will increase your efficiency exponentially.

The metrics we’ve spoken about can be gained from accessing reports in your:

By integrating these solutions, data is shared on a two-way basis meaning you will never miss anything. They will also automatically generate reports and insights at your request in real-time, so you can quickly identify trends, opportunities and concerns that require action.

This eliminates the need for you to compile information from various sources into clunky spreadsheets manually, saving you hours and streamlining your entire admin process.

For example, between your channel manager and business intelligence tool you can look at Channel Mix and Pace reports. These reports enable you to identify metrics such as lead times, length of stays, guest segments, performance comparisons, competitor insights, and more.

Do hoteliers need technology to master data and decision making?

The fact is that big hotel chains and groups have long known the value of technology and data in improving operations – whereas independent properties have been slower to adopt, whether due to perceived cost, complexity, or necessity.

However, the demands on modern business and the way that guest expectations and motivations have changed means hoteliers who aren’t embracing technology in a holistic way risk being left behind.

Some quick ways you can identify that you need to make a change include:

  • Spending too much time on admin
  • You and your staff don’t have enough time to spend on guests
  • The systems you use are fragmented and don’t cooperate
  • You have no visibility of metrics like channel performance
  • You have double-bookings
  • You lack direct bookings
  • You can only guess at your competitor’s strategies
  • You’re unable to make changes at scale

Using technology, like SiteMinder’s complete hotel commerce platform lets you empower your staff, prioritise your guests, act on information immediately, make fully informed decisions based on automatic real-time insights, track market fluctuations, and boost your revenue.

Essentially it means you can have full control over your operations from a single control panel, allowing you to work both smarter and faster.