So, you’ve decided to move your hotel organization away from spreadsheet-based reporting to a modern business intelligence/analytics solution. First of all, congrats, and well done! This was likely a lengthy process that required engaging multiple stakeholders, many calls, demos, and a bit of begging for budget.
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There will be no snarky comments here; we know the state of our industry, and the fact is that many of us in hospitality still use spreadsheet-based reporting today or made the move away from it fairly recently. As a recovering Ctrl+C, Alt+E, S, V, E (IYKYK) ninja myself, I promise you that you’ve made the right choice and won’t look back.
At this point, you’ve narrowed it down to a shortlist of potential solutions, or you’ve already made your choice and decided to move forward with one (I can recommend one in particular if you’re interested). Now the question is, how do you pull this off without a) losing your mind or b) losing your job?
Over the last seven years (!) I’ve helped many organizations make the very same move and have seen it all – the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’m sharing some of what I learned so you can do the same and come out of it looking like you knew what you were doing all along.
Get Your Data In Order
‘Garbage in, garbage out’; as the adage goes. If you’re moving from Excel to analytics, there’s no better time to get your house in order when organizing the data in your source systems. In fact, only switch to a new system or tool after reviewing your source system data first. Otherwise, you’re just going to have a lot of great visualizations to show how poor your data quality is and make more work for yourself.
So, in practical terms, what does this actually mean? Think about how you want to view your business through different lenses. For simplicity’s sake, let’s focus on your PMS data for a moment. Have you taken a look at your PMS back-end recently? It’s a bit of a mess, to put it lightly. Do you have duplicate rate codes or market codes? Do you have all the distribution channels you want to report on in the PMS? Are they (correctly) mapped from the CRS? If you’re in a portfolio scenario, multiply this by the number of properties or brands. Do you have uniform market segments, rate codes, distribution channels, and room classes across the board?
This can get messy in a hurry, so my recommendation would be to sketch all of this out in detail. Lay out exactly how it looks right now, then start thinking about the changes you want to make. Draw up your ideal future scenario, then make the necessary changes to put it in place. Ironically, the best tool for the job here is likely a good old spreadsheet. They do have their uses, after all – but analytics is not one of them. If you can’t wait and want to go ahead, make sure that your tool of choice has data management capabilities to make cleanup easy.