Expert’s Voice: How to tell a good story with hotel revenue data

Revenue management leaders can enhance hotel performance by providing actionable data, says Sybil Luger, regional vice president of account management for Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific at IDeaS.

Old rules of doing business have been bypassed in the wake of the pandemic. Hospitality is entering a new era defined by insight based on experience and backed by data. To properly guide connected businesses using insights gained from data analysis, hotel operators rely on savvy revenue management leaders to deliver their knowledge and understanding in a concise and actionable manner.

These revenue leaders have the ability to dig into historical data, then compare it to current events in a way that wasn’t possible before. In a fully connected commercial organization, this allows revenue teams to pull data from every corner of a property and portfolio, gaining real insight into how bookings and pricing are evolving and how operators can respond in kind.

The problem is that data can be impractical when it comes to acting on it. While it can provide important discoveries that could change the way operators do business, this is all for nothing if leaders miss the message. Revenue management today involves much more than forecasting and setting prices, it requires creativity to shape and present the insights from data in a way that makes sense.

Focus your message

“Everything was the same – until one day everything changed.” This might sound like the start of a great Netflix presentation, but storytelling for business requires a different approach. Revenue leaders can set the scene by quickly identifying where the shift in data occurred, what led to it happening, and how to implement it based on this knowledge.

The goal of these messages should be to summarize everything in one major statement or visual element. The best way to do this is with a strong headline for each report, followed by a hypothesis for the implications of these findings. Most importantly, revenue leaders must tailor their reports based on the divisions that receive them. Sales, marketing, front desk, food and beverage, and housekeeping all consume and work with information in different ways.

This hands-on approach from revenue leaders is essential because persistent economic uncertainty dampens companies’ willingness to experiment. Operators must adapt to new ways to increase revenue, and revenue management is the key to overcoming their fear of failure. Hotel owners can use the data as their guide, enabling them to put more confidence behind their decision making every step of the way.

create context

Operators do not have time to learn the history behind the historical data. They need to rely on the data revenue leaders who base their decisions on, and where those decisions lead them. With this in mind, revenue leaders can focus on building context around data analysis first and foremost.

The challenge here is twofold. First, revenue leaders must be able to form a relationship with corporate and business leaders that allows them to share ideas freely. Second, they must willingly break out of the confines of their traditional revenue management role, to become business analysts and change leaders capable of guiding a hotel’s operational path.

It’s easy to fall back on operational strategies that have worked in the past, but revenue leaders must remember that their role is one of the newest in guesthouses, and that it has continued to evolve at a rapid pace. The definition of the role continues to change, and during periods of economic uncertainty revenue management is needed to unleash the hotel’s potential growth. By using their existing skills to take on a broader commercial leadership role, revenue leaders are positioned to influence hotel operations outside the traditional scope of the position.

speak

With data, revenue leaders have become experts in long-term strategic planning, but the challenge to evolve doesn’t just fall on their shoulders. Hotels must create an environment conducive to experimentation and provide possibilities to do so. Revenue management software can only do so much if it is kept separate from other hotel systems. A fully connected enterprise allows revenue leaders to pull information from every corner of the hotel, but many hotels continue to use legacy systems separated from the cloud.

The role of revenue management has largely evolved from its humble beginnings, and today’s revenue leaders possess the unique marketing skills to drive growth in today’s business. That’s why it is up to modern revenue leaders to step back from using poor technology and data sources, take the lead in championing the power of cutting-edge revenue technology, and advance an overall revenue strategy across the entire business enterprise.

Hotels today are still limited by a shortage of workers and increased guest expectations. Only operators willing to try new things at all levels of the business are in a position to succeed, and revenue management is driving the movement. Revenue leaders must become masterful data narrators, using a revenue management system, along with other analytics techniques and business intelligence tools, to piece the points together and create a strategy for greater profitability and business success.

This is an edited version of an article that appeared in Hotel Management.

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