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Hospitality’s edge is honed by business intelligence

February 28, 2017

Business intelligence (BI) tools have evolved from being somewhat useful to being essential for helping hospital­ity organizations thrive.

Armed with the right information, decision-makers better understand risk, per­formance, and the impacts of their decisions at the property, region, and group levels.

Some 62% of hoteliers surveyed use BI tools, and another 16% will add them within 18 months, according to Hospitality Technology’s “2016 Lodging Technology Study.” Simi­larly, HT’s “2016 Restaurant Technology Study” found that 22% of hoteliers plan to add analytics tools, while 80% call analytics the most important emerging software capability.

“Leading hotel companies are … lever­aging advances in data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to increase online reservations, im­prove the return on advertising spend (ROAS), better understand guest pref­erences, and build stronger customer relationships,” according to global analyst firm EY.

However, res­taurants are lagging in analytics, notes Gaurav Pant, EKN Research prin­cipal analyst. “This will and has to change,” he says. “In­dustries that are on the front lines of customer interactions have to realize that customer insights are their single biggest weapon in the relevancy war.”

By following the 5 practices detailed in the “Achieving competitive advantage with business intelligence” white paper from Infor and Hospitality Technology magazine, hotels and restaurants can optimize their BI investment, and maximize its value.

5 ways to get more from BI

  1. Pump up the insight with rolling forecast data to BI/analytics platforms.

The revenue management system at most hospitality organizations is dy­namically reforecasting the business at least once daily. Integrating that data flow into a BI tool requires that the analytics solution suite has strong integration tools that can assimilate dynamic information. For example, Kempinski Hotels, Eu­rope’s oldest luxury hotel group, is using Infor ION, Infor’s light middle­ware technology, to integrate Kempinski financial systems and Infor EzRMS, as well as other third-party systems, with Infor Dynamic Performance Management, thus eliminating the data consolidation process previously run manually once a month. Kempinski’s visibility is enhanced with forward-looking data that enables decision-makers across the organization to improve performance, not simply make up for shortfalls.

  1. Don’t accept “dark corners” of data.

“Hospitality data sources are still very scattered,” notes Info-Tech Research Group.

The complexity of the tech stack supporting a hotel’s operations, and integration hurdles combine to prevent operators from getting a complete picture of the business. The data is out there, but it’s not being delivered in an actionable way. A flexible BI tool with strong integration capabilities is needed to deliver true end-to-end visibility.

“An application portfolio assessment is needed to inte­grate those sources and information,” according to Vendor Landscape: Business Intelligence for Gaming, Hospitality and Leisure 2015.

  1. Focus analytics on distribution/OTA and third-party reservations.

Online travel agencies and online restaurant reservation systems drive substantial volume for hotels and restaurants, upwards of 50% in many cases. While it’s necessary to use these channels, the increasing complexity of the revenue models employed by these services make it difficult to know the true cost. The solution lies in choosing a BI/analytics tool that comes preconfigured to support the more common distribution models, so it can immediately cap­ture the correct data and apply the appropriate analytics. Only then can operators evaluate which new distribution models are working, and which ones need to be sent back.

  1. Pursue full enterprise optimization.

The basic definition of enter­prise optimization is to apply rev­enue management concepts to all facets of hotel or restaurant operations — addressing any input, output, or business practice that can yield a better result by applying analytics, including areas such as workforce planning or food purchasing. These types of costs can easily cut into profit margins if not properly aligned with business levels.

Enterprise optimization entails set­ting up processes and configuring tools such as user-friendly mobile BI apps and in-context BI to automatically de­liver the appropriate insights to those best able to leverage them. Democratiz­ing data enables users in every area of the business to make deci­sions that work not just for the depart­ment or process at hand, but that align with overall enterprise goals.

  1. Recognize that data is not always something to be guarded, except when it is.

The hos­pitality industry is highly fragmented; a single hotel or restaurant operation often has a complex array of relation­ships with owners, brands, manage­ment organizations, and other inter­ested parties. In some cases, it makes sense to share IT environments across these borders, so everyone is working with the same data set as they work to meet mutual goals. But it’s also the case that each of these players looks at the business from its own unique perspective, which can even vary by property, market and season. Working with expe­rienced BI/analytics experts can help hospitality organizations make the right call to satisfy their own needs as well as those of their partners.

Embrace the data at every level for stellar guest experiences.

In the age of analytics, the ability to do more with data is paramount. In hospitality, where data analysis has long been confined to limited areas and selected staff, those that embrace BI and analytics’ full potential stand to gain significant competitive advan­tage by being able to optimize operations and create standout guest experiences.

Check out this video to learn more about Infor’s Dynamic Enterprise Performance Management for hospitality.

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