Three ways to use data in day-to-day hotel operations

By Fred Dominioni

Anyone in the industry will tell you that the daily operations of a hotel are complex. Beyond responding to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, hoteliers juggle a serious list of to-dos. Staff needs to be scheduled, menus must be crafted, inventory stocked and ordered, maintenance properly cared for, all on top of keeping guests happy.

Traditionally, hotel managers have addressed these tasks manually, searching through reservation books and paper schedules to determine the best course of action for each department. But with the rapid development of and accessibility to hospitality technology, hoteliers can now leverage more data and insights than ever before. With the right property management system, hoteliers can tactically leverage this data to stay competitive in the industry while also serving today’s guests. These platforms come with an extensive range of features designed to fit almost any business model. By providing approachable access to data, decisions from scheduling and maintenance to marketing and revenue can be made in confidence.

On average, labor costs account for roughly 50% of a hotel’s budget and are one of its most significant expenses. Over- or under-scheduling staff can have dire consequences on a property’s revenue. Integrated property management systems, powered by business intelligence, can mitigate these risks by equipping managers with more accurate forecasts of occupancy rates, helping them make smarter staffing decisions when scheduling and decreasing the chances of wasted labor costs.

This data provides insight into related matters such as maintenance and inventory. If there is a predicted rise in occupancy, managers will know to make supply orders and schedule routine facility maintenance in advance, avoiding potential shortages and mitigating any issues that could impact guest experience.

Optimizing revenue
Choosing the correct room rate to both stay competitive and make revenue can be a challenge. Hoteliers must also factor in variables like the time of year, occupancy rate and consumer demand. Fortunately, many of today’s hotel technology solutions offer dynamic pricing, a strategy utilizing data and machine algorithms to automate room rates.

Dynamic pricing can calculate the best rate for a hotel room by pulling from multiple data sources like past occupancy rates, competitor pricing and market trends. Armed with a modern, cloud-based PMS, hoteliers can create custom rules that automatically change the pricing when certain conditions are met. For example, a rule could be set to increase the room rate once a fixed percentage of rooms have been booked. What makes dynamic pricing so attractive is its flexibility and ability to make data-based pricing decisions, increasing its accuracy. Additionally, the automation aspect frees up hotel staff from having to manually adjust prices when markets change, giving them time to tend to other responsibilities.

Data can also provide insights into guests’ preferences and purchasing behaviors. These can be applied to revenue opportunities through upselling and promotional offers. For instance, customer data might reveal that a specific spa package is very popular among couples. Managers could use that trend to create a promotional deal that bundles the spa package with a special room rate if booked during specific dates. Food and beverage managers may notice that some dishes are more popular than others and choose to feature them as a weekly special during peak occupancy times, increasing the number of plates sold.

Building customer relationships is a key tenet of the hospitality industry. Marketing cultivates those customer relationships, and data can help to boost that effort.

When provided with important dates like the date of booking and the dates of stay, marketing teams can curate a timetable to contact guests when they are more likely to make decisions or perform certain actions. In the weeks or days leading up to their reservation, guests could receive an email with promotional offers on additional services or room upgrades as an upsell. If certain services were purchased during their stay, they could be prompted to take a survey or leave a review at a specified time after their visit. Information on whether they are loyalty rewards members can also be factored into their communications, prompting different promotional offers or gifts.

Holistic operational management and business intelligence
Data plays an important role in nearly every facet of a hospitality business, painting more detailed pictures of potential and current guests, providing a closer look at internal resource allocation and prompting hoteliers to make well-informed business decisions. With the right data and enough creativity, hoteliers can leverage data not only to improve their daily operations, but also to set a new standard for an industry marked by resiliency, efficiency and personalized guest experiences. Trends and feedback from operators clearly point to the need for greater ability to leverage unified platforms (with seamless integrations between PMS, POS, payment gateways, keyless systems, inventory management, etc.) and the ability to benefit from prescriptive BI, seen as the holy grail of hospitality management platforms (HMPs).

Fred Dominioni is chief revenue officer at RMS North America. In this role, he is the leader of revenue-generating internal teams at the company. He hires, mentors and motivates the customer success, marketing, sales and support teams. He is responsible for driving revenues, negotiating strategic partnerships, growing into new vertical markets and shaping the product roadmap.

This is a contributed piece to Hotel Business, authored by an industry professional. The thoughts expressed are the perspective of the bylined individual.