The convenience of business intelligence dashboards is how they simplify vast amounts of data and present users with key information. However, manually monitoring data is not only a waste of time but it’s also unproductive as it’s impossible to catch every trend when crucial insights are often buried deep in data. In order to take advantage of valuable information, there needs to be a harmonious relationship between intelligent insights and efficient alerts.
Insights are notoriously difficult to define, mostly due to the fact that their value is highly specific. For something to be classified as an insight, it needs to show a deep understanding of an individual or organization. The patterns in data discovered need to give a company crucial information that will shape their decision-making.
Alerts are responsible for the efficient delivery of information. They ensure that critical insights get to the right person at the right time. While there’s still time to act and the information is at its most valuable. Not only do alerts save a team time (and consequently money) it also gives them opportunities to make informed decisions and focus on strategy rather than reacting to forces outside of their control.
Although these explanations might make the concept of insights and alerts seem relatively straightforward, most business intelligence solutions haven’t perfected the art of delivering relevant information efficiently.
Where are business intelligence solutions going wrong?
As established, the value of insights is specific to an individual organization. One organization’s requirements for thresholds to trigger an alert will be different from another’s. Depending on the organization’s strategy and market, they will want to set their insights to be highly personalized to ensure that they are the frontrunner among their competition in keeping ahead of trends. Such strategies and goals are likely to change as the year progresses, meaning that giving a user the flexibility to set and adjust its trigger paradigms and criteria is crucial to building a successful insight engine.
In terms of delivering information, many business intelligence tools send their users notifications informing them about important changes in data. However, these platform alerts don’t take into account that often the decision-makers who need to receive the data won’t be the ones logging into the platform. To make matters worse, tools often overload their users with notifications. Upon logging in, users can be bombarded with dozens of notifications, some of which do not highlight data critical enough to warrant premium alert status.
If users are able to set and modify the parameters around their insights, they will be able to see the true value of the information they are receiving. Not only will users see that their intelligence tool truly understands their challenges and can offer them a solution but they will also see a direct return on investment, making it a win-win situation for both parties.
Efficiency & relevancy: the direct benefits for hotels
No matter how much forward planning hotel revenue managers carry out or how much research they do into trends and key events, at some point they will find themselves in a situation where they realize that their competitors knew something they didn’t.
What do we mean by that? A revenue manager may have missed the news that a major concert is taking place in their city in two weeks’ time. Sometimes they will learn this kind of information by noticing that all their competitors have increased their room rates on a specific date. But what happens if just two competitors are aware of the event? A small change like two competitors changing their rates substantially can easily be overlooked by a revenue manager dealing with large quantities of data on a daily basis.
The result of this scenario will be that the hotel will maintain its normal weeknight pricing strategy. They may even set a promotion or sell a chunk of their allocation to a wholesaler in fear of not reaching their occupancy goals. By the time the bookings come flooding in, the revenue manager will realize something is amiss. But it’s already too late, rooms that could have been sold at a much higher rate to maximize revenue will have been sold and competitors will have increased room rates and decreased allocation on other channels to encourage guests to book through their Brand.com. Thus maximizing all opportunities to increase their bottom line.
Whether it’s missing an important event, not noticing competitors' pricing changes within a day or failing to catch competitors’ changing length of stay (LOS) restrictions, these situations are not the result of an idle revenue manager. It’s the result of business intelligence tools not offering a high level of customization or lacking a deep understanding of how their users work and what they need to be truly competitive. Rate shoppers and other business intelligence tools give users an average to measure themselves against which is convenient for increasing efficiency but they ignore outliers. Being truly competitive and one of the first in your comp set to adapt your strategy gives you more opportunity to gain a greater share of the market.
Let’s consider an alternative outcome to the concert scenario. What if the revenue manager was unaware of the concert date but this time, instead of realizing when the bookings come in, they are alerted when two competitors change their rates for a specific date in the same trend. Or maybe they will be alerted to the fact that more than one competitor has a LOS restriction on a certain date and they don’t. Now the revenue manager can search the date in question, understand their competitors’ change in strategy, change their own rates accordingly and stay ahead of potential issues that could negatively impact their profitability.
Alerts like the ones mentioned above and others such as competitors changing pricing within a day for a near check-in date (which would normally be too short notice to detect a trend for) are signs of business intelligence solutions shaping their tools to truly benefit their users.
Having vast amounts of data at your fingertips only gives you the advantage if the information is relevant and convenient. It’s time to start making the most of the information we have access to.