As is often mentioned, the hospitality industry is still playing catch-up when it comes to the adoption of analytics to support decision-making. Even though quite a number of hospitality organizations have made significant strides and are extensively using analytics to improve their performance, a larger proportion still remain behind the curve. Those who find themselves behind the curve may perceive the adoption of analytics to be a very daunting undertaking, and are more often than not stuck in the “how do we get started?” rut. While it is true that becoming an analytics-savvy organization is not a quick and easy thing to do, there are quite a number of relevant and less daunting analytics tasks that can be undertaken to help you explore the benefits of utilizing analytics within your organization, and also get started with your analytics endeavors.

In collaboration with Hospitality Upgrade, we are launching a series of monthly analytics-related challenges to assist you in kick-starting your analytics journey, or, for those who are already doing some analytics, help you refine your approach. Each month throughout this calendar year, you will be presented with one challenge to tackle. The challenges will be presented and discussed via this newsletter and Hospitality Upgrade magazine.

To make the series relevant to a broader audience, each challenge will have two levels: basic and advanced. The basic level will present the challenge in its simplest form, such that most hospitality general managers, mid-level managers or executives who are less experienced when it comes to analytics will be able to tackle it. The same challenge will then be presented at an advanced level by adding some complexity as well as a strategic emphasis to target the C-level executive and those heavily involved in analytics and/or the analytics direction of their organization.

As we go through the series, we encourage you to provide feedback on how you are doing, share/exchange experiences, ask questions and seek diverse opinions through comments on these posts (by clicking the comment button above the article). Starting from the second month of the series, we will recap and discuss the prior month’s challenge, review issues that emerged via comments and pose the next challenge.

The intended outcome of the series is to help you better appreciate the value added by analytics to your decision-making process and to improve the adoption of analytics within your hospitality organization. By the end of the series, we hope that you’ll be able to measure its success via improvements you’ve made in areas such as: a better understanding of your data, improved time-to-decision, confidence in decisions made, an improvement in data quality, improved productivity, etc. For those who, prior to the series, were less willing to undertake the analytics journey, we hope you’ll develop the confidence to take the first step.

Why adopt analytics to support decision-making?

Managers and executives who use analytics to support their decisions often comment about the improved confidence they have in their decisions, and how they experience "a-ha" moments of new and improved insights that help boost business performance. So why not you?

In recent years, there has been a growing focus on analytics across all industries, including the public sector. Every organization seems to be adopting analytics to support decisions made to improve performance and also tackle challenges. For those of us in the hospitality business, keeping up with constantly shifting guest preferences, expectations and buying behavior remains a huge challenge. As we ponder over how we can provide a better overall guest experience, drive improved efficiencies in the use of our resources, develop and maintain brand loyalty, and become more competitive and profitable, we shouldn’t forget the key role that analytics can play in all this.

It is worth noting that the insights provided by your various analytics do not necessarily solve your business challenges; rather, they provide guidance for the decisions you make. Thus, it is not enough to do analytics just because everyone else is doing it. The real challenge comes in incorporating the insights obtained from your analytics into the day-to-day business decisions taken within your organization to improve performance.

Always remember that analytics should create value and be desirable to the consumers of the analytics. Thus, your analytics shouldn’t be more complicated and fancier than they need to be.

Challenge 1 (January): Where is my data?



  • Identify all of your various sources of data and create a list of these sources.
  • For each source listed, also indicate whether you can easily access the data and/or whether the data can be easily exported to a user-friendly format (such as Excel/csv/text etc.).
  • Identify your various sources of data, the types of data, and where the data resides.
  • Evaluate each data source listed, and indicate:
    • whether the data can be easily accessed in a usable format for analytics
    • how the data can be accessed
    • whether there are appropriate access controls in place
    • how you and/or your organization currently use the data from this source
  • Does your organization have a data warehouse or intend to implement one in the near future?
  • Does your organization have any formal Data Governance in place?
Comments and hints:

Basic Level:  When thinking about your sources of data, consider every system where you input information and/or retrieve information. Don’t forget about information that comes from outside your organization (such as vendors, Web analytics, benchmark reports from research companies, channel management, reservations and rate shopping engines). 

Advanced Level:  From a strategic perspective, think about the relevant sources of data that could potentially add value to your decision-making process. The keyword here is “relevance” as it wouldn’t be prudent to embark on a data gathering spree just for the heck of it. Even if you already have a data warehouse or an analytics initiative in place, now would also be a good time to review your current data sources for relevance, as well as those data sources you may have been ignoring. Remember to consider data and reports from external sources (public and private) and non-transactional systems/solutions.

Collaboration Forum:

I encourage you to participate by commenting on these posts (by clicking the comment button above the article), to enable you to ask questions of each other, discuss how challenges were tackled, and also raise issues/problems that you encounter. Comments are meant to be interactive as well as educative, thus I’ll urge users to be respectful of each other.

Useful resources:
  1. Valuable Data You May Be Ignoring
  2. U.S. Government Open Data