Expert’s Voice: How to tell a good story with hotel revenue data
Revenue-management leaders can boost hotel performance by providing actionable data, says Sibylle Luger, regional vice president, account management, EMEA & APAC at IDeaS.
The old rules for doing business have been overwritten 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 commercial organisations using the insights gained from data analysis, hotel operators are relying on savvy revenue-management leaders to deliver their knowledge and understanding in a way that is concise and actionable.
These revenue leaders possess the ability to dig into historical data, then compare and contrast it against current events in a way that has never before been possible. In a fully connected commercial organisation, this allows revenue teams to pull in data from every corner of the property and portfolio, gaining real insight into how bookings and rates are evolving and how operators can respond in kind.
The problem is data can be unwieldy when it comes to acting on it. While it can provide important revelations that can change the way operators approach business, this is all for nothing if leaders miss the message. Revenue management today involves so much more than forecasting and setting prices, it requires creativity to shape the insights learned from data and deliver them in a way that makes sense.
Focus your message
“Everything was the same – until one day it all changed.” This might sound like the beginning of a great pitch to Netflix, but storytelling for business requires a different approach. Revenue leaders can set the scene by quickly identifying where a shift in data has occurred, what triggered it, and how to execute based on this knowledge.
The goal for such messaging should be to boil everything down into one statement or key visual. The best way to do this is through a powerful headline for each report, followed by a hypothesis for the implications of these findings. Most importantly, revenue leaders should adapt their reports based on the departments receiving them. Sales, marketing, the front desk, food and beverage and housekeeping each consume and work with information in different ways.
This hands-on approach from revenue leaders is necessary as continued economic uncertainty suppresses business’ urge to experiment. Operators must adapt to new ways of growing revenue, and revenue management is the key to overcoming their fear of failure. Hoteliers can use data as their guide, enabling them to put more confidence behind their decision-making every step of the way.
Operators don’t have time to learn the history behind historical data. They need to rely on the data revenue leaders are basing their decisions on, and where these decisions are leading them. Keeping 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 commercial leaders that allows them to freely share ideas. Second, they must willingly step outside the confines of a traditional revenue-management role, becoming commercial analysts and leaders of change capable of directing a hotel’s operational trajectory.
It’s easy to fall back on operational strategies that worked in the past, but revenue leaders must remember that their role is one of the newest in hospitality, and it has continued to evolve at a rapid pace. The role’s definition continues to change, and it’s during periods of economic uncertainty that revenue management is needed to unlock a 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 beyond the position’s traditional scope.
Through data, revenue leaders have become experts in long-term strategic planning, but the challenge to evolve does not rest solely on their shoulders. Hotels must create an environment that favours experimentation and provide the capabilities to do so. Revenue-management software can only do so much if it remains detached from other hotel systems. A fully connected organisation allows revenue leaders to pull information from every corner of the hotel, but many hotels continue to use legacy systems disconnected from the cloud.
The role of revenue management has evolved a great deal from its humble beginnings, and today’s revenue leaders possess marketing skills for increasing growth that are unique to today’s business landscape. That’s why it’s up to modern revenue leaders to push back against the use of inferior technology and data sources, take the lead in championing the power of sophisticated revenue technology, and foster a holistic revenue strategy across the entire commercial organisation.
Hotels today remain limited by a shortage of workers and rising guest expectations. Only operators willing to try new things at all levels of business are positioned to succeed, and revenue management is leading the movement. Revenue leaders must become adept data storytellers, using the revenue-management system, in tandem with other analytics technology and business intelligence tools, to put the dots together and create a strategy for greater profitability and commercial success.
This is an edited version of an article that appeared on Hotel Management.
Regional vice president, account management, EMEA & APAC at IDeaS
Sibylle Luger is currently working as the regional vice president, account management for EMEA & APAC at IDeaS. With over 20 years in the hospitality industry, she has worked in various key roles.
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