The disconnect between data and insights

01 September 2022
Hotels collect vast amounts of transactional data from guests, leaving traces while interacting with hotels. For example, the interaction between a potential guest and the hotel starts with a like or comment on a social media post from the hotel or when a guest visits the hotel website. A small percentage leads to a reservation and a guest staying at the hotel. During the stay, the guest leaves traces that the hotel happily collects and stores in all the transactional systems used in various parts of the hotel business.
Hotels collect data automatically whether they realize or want this or not. Systems need data to function and provide hotels with the necessary information to serve guests. Most systems keep and store the data unless the hotel actively manages or deletes the data. The conclusion is that hotels have no problem collecting and storing data since this is done automatically by all systems in use. Problems start when hotels want to make sense of the data.

Collecting all data into one system

Hotels have a challenge in understanding the big picture. It isn't easy to understand something when you cannot see the whole thing. For example, do you know that it is a car if you can only see the tires, the motor, or the transmission and not the complete vehicle? Without collecting the data in one place, hotels will only see fractions and have difficulty understanding what they see and how the pieces fit together. Therefore, hotels need to extract the data from all systems and store the data in one system that is easily accessible for everyone who needs data to gain insights into what is happening in the hotel and how the hotel is performing.

Data quality

Hotels also have a challenge with data quality. The main reason is that working in hotels is stressful and time is scarce. There is no slack between serving guests or between shifts. There is no time double-checking if the data is correct and complete. Most hotels do not use their data anyway, so verifying the information is a waste of time unless it is required by law, and the hotel risks being fined. The typical situation in hotels tends to be poor data quality, so hotels cannot get the right insights. It is better to trust instincts and experience when making decisions. A good guess is better than relying upon low-quality data, but hotels with high data quality will always get the best outcome and make decisions that will grow revenue and profits.

Insights

Hotels that collect high-quality data into one system sit on a gold mine that could provide high value over time. Now, the problem is where to start. What insights can hotels get from the data, and how can hotels access these insights? There are two aspects. One is a question of creativity in formulating hypotheses and then checking if it is true or false. Another is how much a system can assist in using AI to detect anomalies that a human has difficulty finding. Still, the system user has to tell the AI functions what to look for.
 
The best combination to get the right insights is extensive hotel experience, creativity, and system support from AI functions. By combining these skills and knowledge, the hotel can gain an understanding that will make it easy to create the right strategy to grow revenue and profits.