green apple and red apple being compared the same even though they are different reflects importance of hotels benchmarking using business on the books

Hotel owners and operators are best positioned for success when they measure their business from every angle. That is why no benchmarking experience can be considered comprehensive without frequent insight into future booking levels in the marketplace.

NB: This is an article from STR

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Through the Forward STAR element of benchmarking, hoteliers can get ahead of the game by measuring rooms booked for the days, weeks and months ahead for both the local market and the competition. Further, Forward STAR completes the performance picture in tandem with top-line historical data, profitability and forecasting.

Look at it this way. Historical data is like receiving a score card for the performance you have already achieved. You derive key operational and strategic actions from that data.

Forward-looking data gives you the opportunity to influence that scorecard much further in advance while giving you the highest chances for success by combining multiple market views into your revenue-management cycle.

Sometimes called occupancy on the books, business on the books, or simply “on the books,” virtually every hotelier performs some kind of forward-thinking analysis to forecast future revenue trends and combat low periods. Forward STAR, in tandem with historical data trends, removes the guesswork from this analysis.

Understanding Forward STAR data is simple, and the insights are powerful. Through directly sourced data for forward occupancy and pickup, you have the most accurate and holistic view of the future of the industry.

The metrics

As with all benchmarking data sets, Forward STAR runs on actual data, meaning we collect and report back numbers directly from your property as well as the hotels in your local market and competitive set. This gives you the most accurate, like-for-like insights into how your business on the books is shaping up.

Key metrics include:

Occupancy on the books represents confirmed occupancy levels for upcoming periods. 

Pickup shows the change in bookings from one data collection period to the next.

Who uses Forward STAR data?

Forward booking data informs better business decisions across the full spectrum of industry disciplines and stakeholders. Here are some of the more common examples:

  • General managers share intelligence with owners on the high and low demand periods upcoming.
  • Sales and marketing departments adjust promotional campaigns based on future demand trends in the market and identify gaps to be filled.
  • Revenue managers adjust and validate their pricing, room type and length of stay strategies.
  • Through more accurate forecasts, operational managers can better predict their staffing requirements
  • When budgeting, finance teams frequently adjust their decisions in the short-to-medium term based on insight into the future.
  • Portfolio managers maximize channel distribution for their properties.
  • Owners understand lead time relative to the competition.

Key application of the data

  • Understand total (sub)market and competitor demand.
  • Compare your hotels’ future occupancy and pickup against market or competitor sets.
  • Compare against same-time-last-year (STLY) periods.
  • Avoid surprise low or high demand periods
  • Implement and adjust strategies to reflect the market’s booking pace.
  • Evaluate past performance trends through forward data. For example, your weekend occupancy is lower than your competitors because you don’t capture enough long-lead or short-lead demand. Does that differ across the market or competitor set?
  • Understand future transient and group demand.
  • Adjust revenue strategies as demand evolves.
  • Capture supplementary demand around peak demand dates with length-of-stay controls.
  • Visibly determine if future demand is aligning with recent history and adapt actions.
  • Measure future success combined with historic STAR data.


Forward booking benchmarking provides actionable value for properties spanning all hotel sizes, classes, brands, and geographies. Measuring your forward bookings against the competitive marketplace allows you to truly anticipate market demand, identify macro-opportunities and combat low demand periods. These insights empower you to adjust revenue strategies and measure future success combined with historical data sets.

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