The Analytic Hospitality Executive in 2014: A Review

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Well, Analytic Hospitality Executives, the year has once again flown by, and here we sit just before the holidays looking back on 2014, and figuring out what it all means for 2015. I traveled even more than usual this year (if that’s even possible), spending a significant amount of time with our hospitality and travel colleagues in Asia Pacific, which was absolutely fantastic. It’s refreshing to see that while the scenarios might be slightly different, hospitality and travel companies around the world are realizing the value of their data, and the need for powerful analytics to unlock that value.

The industry really seems to be accepting and embracing that the volume, variety and velocity of data today is creating a big data challenge (and opportunity) for the industry, particularly when it comes to non-traditional formats like text or web data.  Companies that are able use analytics to turn all of this big data into meaningful actionable insights, especially those that improve the guest experience, will be the ones that win.   I’ve had many conversations around the globe on these topics this year, and expect to have many more in the years to come. Our blog posts this year have attempted to help our analytic hospitality executives understand where and how to identify these opportunities. Here is a review with links in case you missed anything, or wanted a refresher.

Right from the beginning of 2014, we started hearing the term “personalization” around the hospitality industry, with most major hospitality companies announcing strategic initiatives to develop a more relevant and engaging relationship with their guests. We kicked off the year with a couple of prediction blogs, one from the research faculty at the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research, our blog partners, and one from me “The 14 actions for hotels in 2014”. The CHR researchers talked extensively about the role of technology and data in improving the guest experience – reflecting the growing conversations about personalization. In my blog, I provided a set of “to do” items to help organizations prepare themselves for the data ,analytics and business process change required to set themselves on the path to personalization.

Our blog covered several broad topics through the year, including trends in digital marketing, pricing and revenue management, and text analytics. Underlying every topic was the importance of data management, to address the growing sources and impacts of big data in hospitality. Natalie spoke about how “Multi-channel marketing in hospitality starts with data management” emphasizing the importance of data storage, data integration, data quality and data governance as the underpinnings of a successful marketing program. I posted a two part series on Big Data and Big Analytics as a “Big Opportunity” for hotels: Part 1 and Part 2. In those two posts, I defined the technology enablers that facilitate the management of big data, and the execution of big analytics. As well, I advocated for “Responsible use of big data” and described how to thoroughly evaluate new data sources to ensure you aren’t adding data overhead with no value. Alex touched on the opportunities to leverage big data in revenue management in his video post “Can big data help revenue management”.   In her recent post about Web Analytics for Hospitality, Natalie and special guest Suneel Grover advocated for better data and better integration – reinforcing the need to incorporate the online and offline profile of guests for a true 360 degree view.

Modernizing marketing, especially moving towards digital marketing, was a big topic in the industry and on our blog as well. Natalie interviewed Bill Carrol about challenges and opportunities in hospitality marketing, to provide a broad perspective on the topic. We then featured Bruce Swann, Customer Intelligence Solutions Manager at SAS, in a couple of more detailed posts on elements of the hospitality marketing problem, including his interview in “What is the future of email in hospitality marketing”, where he discussed the relevance of email in hospitality marketing, and provided advice about how marketers can be relevant with email and stay ahead of the competition. He also provided advice for marketers on how to move beyond campaign management, to leverage omni-channel marketing, marketing optimization and digital intelligence. Natalie described how to apply advanced analytics techniques to digital marketing in her two posts “Forecasting digital outcomes for hospitality” and “Streamlining tough choices: Applying an optimization approach to hospitality marketing”.   .

We talked about opportunities for hotels to improve pricing strategies, including several features on the latest research into reputation management and pricing. I reviewed “What research tells us so far” in the arena of reviews, ratings and hotels. I also reported the latest research results from my “Pricing in a Social World” research, co-authored by Dr. Breffni Noone from Penn State, including a blog summary of our project on how business travelers buy, and a video summary of the research results. Natalie described how hotels can assess their reputation through text analytics, and described the importance using text analytics to capture, comprehend and act on the voice of the customer , summarizing her thoughts in a video blog.

Natalie provided an interesting perspective on what hotels can learn from casinos in a multi-part series: “Focus on knowing your guests” and “Focus on the service environment” which concluded with Alex’s describing what hotels could learn from casinos’ focus on non-rooms pricing. I also reminded our analytic hospitality executive that analytics are not just for innovation, but can help hotels maintain and improve their core services as well in my post “Be thankful for great hospitality and customer service” Alex provided a summary from the revenue management section at INFORMS, which described some of the latest research in pricing and revenue management analytics that was presented there.

So, what can you expect from us next year? Well, we’re going to focus our attention on three or four broad themes, including customer experience, big data and big analytics, and analytical data visualization. Within these themes we’ll continue to provide clear definitions and helpful tips and strategies for leveraging analytics to drive value in your organization. We look forward to continuing conversations with you next year! On behalf of the entire team at the Analytic Hospitality Executive, we hope you have a great holiday season, and best wishes for a safe and happy new year!!!

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Kelly McGuire

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