It is hard to argue with the claim that Analytics is the hottest buzzword in the hotel business today. More specifically, the impact of Big Data is now a global topic of conversation in industry, government, and education. In the hospitality industry, every function from Revenue Management to Marketing to F&B is becoming more data driven. Unfortunately, behind every technology bandwagon there are a plethora of unproven software startups cashing in on the unceasing pressure placed on managers to find a way to consistently outperform the competition or, at a minimum, beat last year’s results. Allow me to save you thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Analytics is not about software, it’s about people. If you are serious about beginning the transformation to a data-driven hotel company, where decisions are based on fact rather than faith, you should first be concentrating more on brains than bytes. Here are the five, people-centered C’s of profiting from the hotel analytics revolution.
Culture of Data
All successful analytics driven organizations have had to undergo a transformation from a culture where the HiPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) guides all decisions, to one where everyone in the organization defers to data insights to illuminate the best course of action. This cultural shift will require all employees to be engaged and committed to a data centered management philosophy. Unfortunately, changing a company’s culture does not happen overnight. For many, cultural change becomes an indefinite process which requires long-term commitment and ongoing leadership. You are unlikely to get much done if you take a bottom-up approach. Companies that don’t have upper management support to make cultural change a priority typically find that their biggest analytics initiatives fall flat.
When you think analytics, you may picture a lone statistician in a room with a giant server, crunching through formulas that spit out perfect answers to complex questions. Similar to how the Jonah Hill character in the movie Moneyball sat in his little office analyzing player performance. Ironically, the most successful analytics driven companies work exactly the opposite way. They employ a collaborative effort among analytical, technology, creative, and operations people to create a fruitful data driven environment. Let’s look at how working together is critical for the three basic steps of the analytics process.
Resources and time have to be redirected to enable better collaboration. In some companies, this may be accomplished through cross-functional teams that work on analytics problems together. It is very likely that, while the quality of their decisions may be better, these teams will be slower at arriving at conclusions. At first, this latency in decision making will have a real cost, but as everyone learns to share their knowledge and becomes more data focused, the payoffs will start to come faster. In time, all departments should be seamlessly collaborating on integrated data to establish one version of the truth.
Collaboration depends on easy communication. Today, the email has taken the place of the memo as the most formal form of business communication. More and more, high functioning business teams are connecting and sharing via private social platforms which look more like Facebook than Outlook.