Establishing the New Hotel Data Ecosystem
By Michele Walters Co-Founder, Origin World Labs | June 23, 2013
An ecosystem is a collection of entities that depend on each other for survival. When an ecosystem is in balance, all of its components thrive. If you weaken any of its parts, it will begin to collapse. A hotel's management infrastructure is also an ecosystem of interdependent parts. When they work together, the hotel thrives.
Unfortunately, any system that depends on people usually becomes entangled in a web of suboptimal behavior. In fact, every time I meet a department head who is unwilling to freely share their processes and data I can't help but think how animals and plants have a much more advanced appreciation for the value of interdependency than humans do.
Surely, we have all experienced departmental territorialism at some point. It is more common than we'd like to admit and sometimes we are the protagonists. In the typical hotel, department heads act as information gatekeepers, intentionally limiting the productivity of other departments for the purposes of establishing proprietary data which some believe leads to job security. The problem with this behavior is not so much that it cripples optimal decision making, but that it ultimately affects the guest who engages the hotel not as a set of departments, but as a symphony of coordinated or mismanaged experiences.
Most hotel managers are not blind to this 'silo effect'. Every year companies spend millions of dollars on teamwork training and leadership consulting to try to curb this behavior. The goal of these sessions is usually to try to get managers to recognize the worth of embracing a 'sharing, collaboration, interdependence' ethos. The majority of this training usually falls flat. While managers exhibit enthusiasm for a few days or weeks, they soon return to their narrow view of their job scope and responsibilities. Unfortunately, there was nothing forcing managers to really behave differently, until now.
Many hotel companies that have begun to focus on Total Revenue Management are noticing that 'silo' behavior is slowly becoming a thing of the past.
In order to have a complete understanding of the entire guest experience, managers are being forced to dig into information that was once the domain of other departments. The appetite for a complete understanding of guest behavior has led to hotel wide reassessments of what data is the domain of what department. In some hotel companies, this phenomena has not only allowed them to sidestep entrenched departmental territorialism, but it has forced communication among departments that rarely interact.