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EXPERT SPEAK

Intelligent technologies for new-age businesses: The relevance of BI

By Sudeshna Datta, Executive Vice President and Co-Founder at Absolutdata Analytics

Thursday, June 28, 2018, 15:38 Hrs  [IST]

Most hotels suffer from a lack of crucial, timely information essential for the most important business decisions, and that’s exactly where Business Intelligence (BI) can help. BI is fundamentally all about leveraging technology to deliver the right information to the right users, and at the right time, to enable them to take the right decisions. Moreover, BI can help with creating reports, analysing data, and drawing relevant insights that impact business results. While Business Intelligence has been a trending topic among hoteliers, there’s still a lack of adoption of such tools in the realm of hospitality management. Sectors like hospitality and travel, which have a treasure trove of data acquired from various sources, can effectively deploy business intelligence capabilities to determine performance trends and leverage relevant data points.

How BI can help hotels enhance outcomes
The hospitality sector, like other industries, is slowly catching up with the adoption of Business Intelligence and deploying it on various functions such as:

Customer Service and Management:
Guest profiling: Analysing customers helps identify frequent travellers and study their purchasing habits or travel/stay preferences. Hotels can then offer value added services to enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty. Furthermore, business intelligence can help hotels upsell effectively and decide what services can be targeted to a certain guest profile for maximum conversion. Segmenting customers allows hoteliers to identify the in-season and off-season travellers and design tailor-made stay packages in the corporate, leisure, and luxury categories.

Improved stay experiences: Consolidating the information about a guest through a variety of internal and external data sources allows for creating the right offer or deal for the right customer. During a guest’s stay, there is a lot of data that hotels attain, such as the housekeeping preferences, buying patterns, and F&B preferences. Such data can be presented in an actionable way through BI tools, based on which hotels can deliver exemplary customer services during and post guest stays that will delight and impress their guests.

Marketing:
Understand campaign performance in detail: Using BI to learn and deeply analyse the performance of a campaign can guide hotels with planning their next one, or even help them tweak a current campaign for maximum effectiveness. Business intelligence provides for a granular analysis of the sales channels, room type, geographic origin, length of stay, ancillary spend, lead time, membership program status or other such factors for expanding marketing budgets across online and offline selling channels. BI can help time seasonal campaigns to ensure that promotional activities have a high impact during a unique booking window across different seasons and all markets.

Personalisation: When hoteliers are aware of their guests’ plans, interests, demographics, and preferences, they can effectively anticipate their needs, and subsequently offer more personalised services. Also, BI systems can strategically help hotels craft and align their brand messaging to each customer’s pain point, which can ultimately win potential guests.

Sales and Revenue Management:
Recognise lead time: Business intelligence provides the means to definitively evaluate lead times for each booking in detail, based on complete and accurate details on guest folios. The time taken by a customer between making a reservation and arriving at the property is the lead time. Finding out lead times can help hotels manage their room availabilities and operations with respect to demand.

Pricing: Pricing policies of hotels are largely based on the demand and price sensitivity of travellers. BI tools provide in-depth insights on pricing position, guest budget, customer price sensitivity, competitive pricing, historical pricing, and control pricing fluctuations. Decision making based on some valuable insights allows businesses to reposition or mold their pricing policies, boost conversions, recover lost sales, and ensure return sales.

Deploying BI can make hotels agile, forward-looking, and differentiated
There are myriad ways in which business intelligence can bolster a hospitality business’ performance and growth. BI tools offer the ability to collate and analyse data from various sources to better understand where opportunities exist for increased revenue, analyse the sources of revenue generation, and forecast future demand. While pricing may not be a flexible area, BI systems can help hotels find key auxiliary revenue sources and analyse the costs to maximise value for customers, without affecting their own margins. Moreover, BI tools help hotels be more agile and efficient in identifying new segments, as well as devising and implementing top line solutions faster than competitors, thus giving them a competitive edge in the market.

The views expressed within this column are the opinion of the author, and may not necessarily be endorsed by the publication.

 
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