Aptech's VP Explains How Big Data Gets Into One Business Intelligence Database

  • Aptech Computer Systems, Inc.
  • 06.07.13
Aptech Computer Systems'  VP, Cam Troutman, explains how hotel companies with large and diverse portfolios can reap rewards with business intelligence.

Aptech VUE: The Big Data Challenge – Multiple Properties with Multiple Flags Meet Big Challenges; Reap Big Rewards with Business Intelligence

By Cam Troutman, Vice President of Aptech Computer Systems

There are more hotel brands using more property management systems (PMS) today than ever before. Each franchise has its own system requirements, and many are proprietary. When operators shop for a business intelligence (BI) system, the first thing they want to know is: Will it access and centralize data from various PMS applications at their properties? This is the right question. Data gathering and consolidation are challenging, but there are big rewards from basing business decisions on big data.

The central source of performance data at most hotels is the PMS. There are about eight major PMS solutions used today. Each has its own program language, data format, posting codes, field descriptions, and other unique characteristics. When Aptech puts its Execuvue® Business Intelligence system to work for a hotel company, the primary job is to extract, transform, and load data from multiple property systems into Execuvue’s centralized database for analysis. Click here for more on Aptech’s products and services.

Job 1: Extracting data from dissimilar property systems
Operators tell us the property and company data they want to measure, and we automate the extraction processes. Aptech works with all leading PMS vendors and franchisors to extract daily property data. Aptech is the only provider of a fully integrated enterprise accounting, business intelligence, and planning hotel software suite to the hospitality industry.

Data extraction offers several challenges. If the PMS does not have a standard data export utility, we must create a custom export process, or ‘scrape’ the data from reports. Another issue is assessing the level of available data from each property. Some PMS solutions do not capture market segmentation; other systems cannot access general ledger (G/L) information, or they report certain data monthly. These ‘data gaps’ limit BI analysis. Lastly, it is essential that we can repeat the extraction process.

Job 2: Data transformation
Once Aptech extracts the data from each of the company’s property systems, the second step is transforming and transferring it to the Execuvue database for analysis and use. The primary challenge in data transformation is geographical. In the past, PMS solutions were on property. Today, they may be hosted at a company’s corporate headquarters, at a third-party hosting facility, or at the management company’s offices. To complicate matters further, each PMS has a different data format. It might be XML, delimited files, Excel, or even PDF. This is the starting point for the data transfer; the end point is loading the data into a unified multi-property corporate BI database.

Job 3: Data loading
Execuvue standardizes and loads multiple property data formats into the hotel company’s BI database. However, a new challenge is identifying and aligning each property’s daily metrics with last year, budget, forecast, and its Smith Travel data. We map the unique codes each hotel or chain uses and combine them in appropriate groupings for enterprise rollups and comparisons for rooms sold, room revenue, and many other performance measures. Experience with chains and large hotel companies is valuable in this process because each company has its own operating definitions. For example, “occupancy %” sounds like an easy calculation, but brands use different equations based on how they count out-of-order, house use, comp, and other room factors. We work with the hotel company to standardize these measures and implement its definition of occupancy percent.

Extracting and loading historical PMS and G/L data is also a challenge. PMS and G/L data have different codes. We verify if historical data is available on a property’s legacy revenue reporting system. Execuvue automatically imports Smith Travel Research (STR) data for many operators. Although Execuvue automatically imports PMS data daily, STR delivers its data on Wednesdays. Creating market and property comparison reports is essential for sound management, so Execuvue provides daily property numbers beside the STR data for a block of time that is always within a week of the reporting date.

The Big Data Reward
The rewards are huge when executives have a compressive big-data performance picture of each of their properties, markets, and brands available for management decisions. From that moment forward, the company bases its business decisions on accurate, actionable data.  Aptech’s solutions enable quick, accurate decision-making and the ability to be proactive operationally and financially.

Aptech’s Execuvue BI, PVNG Accounting System, and Targetvue Enterprise Planning and Budgeting will be at HITEC 2013, June 25 – 27 in the Minneapolis Convention Center. Come by Booth 901 to meet the Aptech team.


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