Hospitality operations are always looking for ways to maximize their product offerings to achieve the most profitability. This is done by reviewing historical patterns and anticipating future needs. Managers are constantly reviewing guest patterns, dayparts, cover counts, financial statements, and other documents just to name a few. Reviewing of the numbers helps to maximize the potential of the operation. This process is now typically defined as analytics. The Breakers Palm Beach not only believes in this, they have now created a department specifically focused on it. I had the pleasure of talking with Business Intelligence Developer Raymond Cheung and Data Science and Analytics Manager Abrar Syed from the analytics team here on the property to learn about their department's role in the organization.
When was the department created?
The Business Analytics department was created in October 2015.
What is the overall role of the department?
To manage, process, and analyze business data--historical and current, to provide strategic and tactical insight for all operational departments to sustain and improve performance. This includes providing data to assist in making operational decisions and also empowering the leadership team with data to ensure the company’s performance is in-line with long term goals.
How many people are in the department, and what are each of their roles?
There are currently four people in the department, with the roles being: Director of Finance and Business Analytics, Director of Business Intelligence, Business Intelligence Developer, and Data Science and Analytics Manager.
What are the types of reports that you provide? Which departments do you provide these reports for?
Being a full-service resort, The Breakers has many areas which utilize various types of reports. These departments include: hotel operations, revenue management, food and beverage, retail, marketing, pool and beach, and spa, and the reports can range from one-time, to monthly, quarterly, or even yearly. Examples of reports that are provided regularly include: demand forecasting, revenue management, menu item sales mix, labor management, customer relationship management (CRM), post-departure survey results, financial insights reports, email marketing, guests’ booking trends, and even guests’ spending behavior.
Does your team just provide the data or, do you provide additional comments and/or feedback that go along with the data?
Our team collects, cleans, and extracts the data from different systems. We interpret the data for decisions, trends, and insights, and then provide associated commentary to the leadership team for maximum impact. We try to minimize the amount of time that leadership spends deciphering the data and information so that they can focus on utilizing the findings to make impactful changes.
What benefits do you feel your team provides the operation that another operation that does not have the same focus on analytics would have?
Ultimately, I feel that analytics serves two purposes, to increase efficiency and maximize revenues. By having a focus on analytics, we are able to find opportunities that may not have been obvious to the naked eye. Additionally, establishing proper measurement protocols and KPIs has allowed us to quantify our efforts and determine whether or not our interventions have had significant effects. We are able to take a much more scientific approach to our operations in that we can formulate hypotheses and then test them to see if revenues, engagement, retention, etc. have increased in meaningful ways.
What trends have you seen with analytics as it relates to the hospitality industry?
Historically, I feel that the hospitality industry has been one of the slower adopters of new technology and utilization of advanced metrics. With all of the independent properties and smaller operations, analytics may not have seemed necessary because of smaller data sets and sample sizes, but I have seen increased interest and efforts to determine what is appropriate for each operation.
What do you foresee as the future for analytics as it relates to the hospitality industry?
Because the hospitality industry utilizes so many various systems--from the POS, to the PMS, to inventory and purchasing systems--the future for analytics in the hospitality industry will rely upon integrating all of these data points into a comprehensive data warehouse. Once this database is established, I feel that machine learning and data mining will revolutionize the industry in that advanced analytics will become much more accessible to all organizations regardless of size or resources.
If you were pitching the idea of having an analytics department in a hospitality operation, how would you “sell” this idea to upper management?
Increased profits and customer retention, and happier and more efficient team members. Analytics provides quantitative feedback on all aspects of the operation, and with this feedback, you will be able to determine exact areas for improvement that will lead to the two purposes mentioned earlier; increased efficiency and maximized revenues.
Until next time...