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Top 5 Hospitality Data Trends for 2021

INTRODUCTION

2020 was a year like no other for hospitality. The word “unprecedented” has been used at an unprecedented rate. Every player, large and small, has had to adapt to the next normal. With cautious optimism, we believe that the road to recovery is ahead of us in 2021. We see that data will play an integral role as businesses rebuild and realise a new vision for operations in a post-pandemic era. Primarily because demand for travel and joyful experiences have been pent-up. Therefore, allowing ample opportunity to capitalise on those looking for an escape. Here are our predictions of the five hottest trends for data in the hospitality world for the year ahead.   

1. New data sources from contactless technology  

Hospitality, especially the luxury segment, was traditionally a high-touch environment. However, with the pandemic this is no longer viable. An emphasis on contactless technology to facilitate operations has taken hold. For instance, technologies are driving a boom in mobile apps, facial recognition, and motion sensors. Some savvy hoteliers are even using voice-activated IoT devices and robots to cater to our guests’ whims. This results in a goldmine of data collected from these interactions.

When used properly, this data can build lasting loyalty, and when not, can cause a scene straight out of Fawlty Towers. The increase of unstructured data also means more advanced analysis techniques will be needed to transform the data into insight. This trend is no longer something you can ignore as you plan your future digital strategy.

2. Forgotten data sources no more.  

We have seen an increase in the number of requests for integrations with platforms besides property management systems. This is the effect of hotels adapting to travel restrictions and pivoting to focus less on conventional rooms revenue. The goal is turning the spotlight onto auxiliary revenue streams such as F&B, Spa, and MICE. Data from table and spa management systems used to be disregarded but have now become an important part of profit strategies.

This means more data sources need to be aggregated to complete the digital profile. It also leads to more data points to collect, store, manage, retrieve, archive and dispose of as data goes through its lifecycle. The need to use this data in real-time to adapt to market demand and shift tactics brings new challenges to the data landscape. Now is the perfectly time for you to see where data is hiding and bring it to light.

3. Rise of APIs  

APIs (Application Programming Interface) are here to help aggregation and to simplify connectivity between systems. This new bridge between platforms allows technology to work together. Thus allowing for enhanced capabilities and a seamless experience for the end-user. Consequently, this means that if you with the right companies or hire the right team, you will be able to take data from multiple sources or serve their data by reducing cost and manual work. This is an excellent opportunity to deliver innovative experiences for the guest. Think about how you can help guest information flow from systems straight to your team’s fingertips, to make personalisation easier than ever.   

4. Privacy and security  

With all this data flowing about, the question of privacy and security is raised across boardroom and dinner tables. Regulations on data privacy and protection are on the rise from national governments. There is increased scrutiny on businesses and how data is being processed. As is the case with PDPA in Thailand, Singapore and GDPR in Europe, it is just a matter of time until this reaches every corner of the world.

The pressure is on as data controllers put Technical and Organisational Measures (TOM) in place to enhance security and prevent costly data breaches. Not only is there the threat of severe financial penalties. The loss of trust can lead to long-lasting effects for even the most storied of brands. You will need to keep up to date with the latest developments in compliance requirements, so you are prepared when the authorities come knocking. Remember that this is not purely an I.T. issue but fundamentally how an organisation deals with customer data as it is captured at every encounter. Make sure that you work with your legal and privacy compliance teams to minimise this risk.

5. Data. Visualised.  

Seeing is believing, which leaves us professionals asking, “if data is the new currency, how can they see their value?” The answer lies with a rare and revered position in most hospitality companies, the Data Scientist. Data visualisation means turning complex information that used to be processed in Excel to tools used and understood by everyone. The goal is to reduce the manual work required to produce the same data daily.

There is a strong belief that analytics and statistics are becoming core competencies for up-and-coming hoteliers. As executives ask for numbers accompanied with a narrative, those with storytelling capabilities will shine. What is more convincing than an easily understood graph or chart from an intuitive tool? This is the best time to make sure you have the right talent and partners on board.

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