Your hospitality business, and indeed the world, is driven by data. The average person creates 1.7MB of data every second, and 2.5 quintillion bytes are produced globally every day. When analysed and leveraged properly, this data can deliver insights that present an unparalleled opportunity for enhanced profitability and growth. But not all data is created equal. Some are more complicated than others, which is why hospitality data analytics offer a potential goldmine of actionable information for your sales, marketing and finance teams.
The secret of extracting the benefits of this information lies in appreciating the intelligence behind the insights.
During our 20 years in the business, Tahola has developed an intimate understanding of the needs and frustrations of the restaurant and hotel industry. While many of these are common across most industries, some are unique to the hospitality sector, and it is here that our specialised expertise really comes to the fore.
To help you gain a more rounded understanding of how hospitality data analytics can deliver a true competitive advantage in an industry where margins are tight at best, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 questions we’re typically asked when restaurants and hotel chains start to investigate how data analytics tools can help them make better business decisions.
We hope the answers will help clarify any areas of uncertainty you may have about implementing a new data technology system.
1. We have data everywhere – how can we make it all work together?
Hospitality businesses typically operate several disconnected systems, such as EPOS, labour, bookings, inventory, and many others. It’s very likely that all these systems operate different software, use different databases, and were purchased from different companies. Very often, they’re also hosted differently and have different connectivity. This creates significant logistical challenges when it comes to finding the exact data you need and making it all work together to help you make better business decisions.
It’s a little like being put into a room with a group of people, all of whom speak different languages, and expecting everyone to know how to communicate effectively with each other.
Fortunately, Tahola offers you a single source of truth. If we can see the data, we can extract, collate, and analyse it. This is how we enable you to monetise your disparate data and use it to create data-driven decisions that help your business grow.
2. Why do I need data analytics when my team creates static reports?
Although the terms “reporting” and “analytics” are frequently used interchangeably, there is one crucial difference:
A report explains what is happening, whereas analytics explains why it’s happening.
In other words, a report might deliver data that is neatly summarised and easily digestible, but it doesn’t offer insights into important areas of business operations, such as how you could improve your revenue management or enhance the customer experience you provide.
Reporting, whether it’s weekly, monthly, or ad hoc, is usually an arduous and time-consuming task that ultimately delivers very little if it’s not accompanied by analytics.
A report, for example, might tell you that none of the cafés in your chain has hit its weekly budget. But is that fact backed up with detailed analytics your finance manager can then drill into to find out why you’re not within budget? If it isn’t, the data in the report is useless.
At Tahola, we can issue daily, weekly, or monthly reports, complemented by detailed analytics, without anyone in your team needing to do anything. Instead, they can spend their time applying their expertise where it matters most – examining the analytics to find answers to those important “why” questions.
3. Will starting a project be time-consuming?
Despite the fact that there is no disruption to the day-to-day running of your business, many hospitality ventures are frustrated by what they perceive as long lead times between the start of a project and the first delivery of results.
It’s important to understand that data, by its very nature, is not simple. It’s also not clean.
For example, a chain of pubs might have one pub logged in their EPOS system, and another in their table booking system. Each system has a different code. So, when bookings come in, it’s very difficult to tell which ones relate to which pub.
Or perhaps your front-of-house staff are in one system for their shift rosters, and another for payroll. On the shift roster, someone could be coded in one way, but on the payroll, they’re coded completely differently. Two systems, two codes, one person.
There are many examples like this we need to address first before we start anything else. This can be a lengthy process, depending on the overall amount, location, and condition of the data.
And of course, the more complicated and disparate your systems, the longer they take to correct.
There is also the added complication of theoretical margins.
Think, for example, of a typical meal of steak and chips. Your restaurant doesn’t buy chips ready-portioned; it buys sacks of potatoes. So, how many portions of chips can you create from one 10kg bag? It depends on how large the potatoes are. How many have blemishes that need to be removed? Do you hand-cut your chips or use a machine? And are they peeled or served skin-on?
Just like the potatoes in question, nothing is exactly cut and dried, and there are many unquantifiable variables to contend with.
When you’re dealing with large amounts of data, optimising your systems for both reactive and predictive analytics is always going to be a time-consuming process. But once it’s complete, you’ll be able to take full advantage of all the features data technology has to offer.
There really is no doubt that data analytics benefit the hospitality industry in significant ways and are a key driver of increased revenue and more competitive operating processes.
4. Do we need a data warehouse for our new and historical data?
The Cloud isn’t going anywhere, and neither is data.
In fact, your hospitality business is producing more data even as you read this. Every time a guest books a table for a meal, or a room for the night, that’s data. When a member of your housekeeping staff marks a bathroom or room as clean, that’s new data. And every time someone finds your venue on TripAdvisor, Trivago or via a social media platform, that’s more data.
It wasn’t that long ago that people frowned at the term “data warehouse.” This is largely because, although the technology was maturing rapidly, it wasn’t yet fully mature. Which meant many organisations spent many years, and millions of Pounds, attempting to build data warehouses that simply didn’t work.
Today, the situation is very different. So much data is in the cloud, and the way we pay for it – either as storage or compute – has changed significantly.
A data warehouse, more often now referred to as a data lake or data repository, can help keep your data organised and accessible for easier retrieval and analysis.
This creates significant benefits, including:
- Optimising expenses
- Improving the guest experience
- Estimating channel profitability for more effective, target marketing campaigns
- Better demand forecasting and price optimisation
- Identifying total guest value.
It’s all about helping you future-proof your hospitality business by enabling you to ask better questions. This is how you find the insights and gems to drive economies of scale and move your business forward.
5. How can I trust you’ll recommend the best hospitality data analytics system for my business?
This is the beauty of a company like Tahola. We are completely vendor agnostic, offering multiple technologies that all deliver great solutions. It all depends on what you’re looking for and what the expectations of your system are.
We appreciate that many businesses want to make use of the systems they already have pre-bundled with their other systems. Microsoft, for example, has bundled Power BI with their Office 365 subscriptions, so those clients who already use this will frequently choose to stick with their existing system.
Although we will always ask what your biggest challenges are so we can recommend the system we feel is most suited to solving them, we are committed to delivering a great solution for each and every customer, regardless of the system you eventually choose.