Last week, I participated in a panel discussion at the Hotel Distribution Event 2015 in London (and I must say thank you for having me – what a great event!) It really is an exciting time to be a part of the hospitality and travel industry.
There is currently so much buzz in the hospitality industry about how we can start to take advantage of a whole bunch of new business opportunities, including (but not limited to):
- Profit optimization and Total Revenue Performance
- Revenue management for new types of inventory (function space, for example)
- Channel optimization
- Big data/ visual analytics/ business intelligence projects across organisations
- Personalisation and guest value
As we begin to try to turn some of these business problems into opportunities, I would like to try to share a little more detail on a message that I shared on the panel: Before we can apply any predictive analytics, we always come back to the inputs – how clean and organised is the data?
This brings us to the title of this post, which may seem odd. Here I use Orange Peel is Orange to help me to remember the first few steps that are vital in applying descriptive analytics to better understand any new business opportunities in more detail. This helps us scope the path to where we want to be and turn business problems into opportunities. This will probably remind many of you of cramming revising for final exams and putting together mnemonic devices to help remember things.
Organise the data
Ensure that there are good standards around the use of business coding and data collection. This is the first step in ensuring that the available data will be suitable for use in digging into new business opportunities (and it often requires time).
Here are a few examples:
- When beginning to think about channel forecasting/optimization: Are source and channel fields well defined? Are they reliably assigned to reservations? Does the data captured support what we want to measure and optimize effectively?
- For corporate RFP negotiation: Is profile data well organised? Are there lots of duplicate accounts? Are profiles reliably assigned to reservations? Can we gain reliable insight into how our accounts are performing?
- When starting to manage new inventory such as meetings and event space: Are the data collection and business practice standards well defined?
Start with a focus on where the gains will drive most improvement in bottom line performance. This is important for knowing where to focus next. Shift the focus towards profitability of overall business wherever possible. As a simple example, what is more important when we assess a potential enquiry for a residential meeting: good RevPAR performance or good performance overall for the hotel? This simple sentiment represents a common disagreement between Room Revenue Management and shifting the focus towards a more holistic perspective.
Align the organisation and its tools. Key teams (and their incentives/ goals) should ideally align to the overall goals. For example – Sales, Revenue, Marketing and Distribution teams should have an aligned focus to achieve overall organisational goals. It is key to ensure that everyone knows their role in both collecting good data and contributing towards the organisation’s goals. Knowing where an individual’s job role fits in, and how best to use the tools available to achieve their goals, is vital to gain buy-in across the organisation and thus move forward towards these targets – perhaps slowly, but confidently.
I suggest that wherever possible – organisations try to keep it simple. Utilising the technology available to automate as much as possible, such as applying automatic assignment of key fields in booking processes (market segment/code, source, channel, profile, etc.) and taking steps to reduce manual input are vital to build up good data that can be used to support our goals.