Seeing the Big Picture – with Multi-Property Hotel Revenue Intelligence

Date
March 9, 2021

Featured article

By Luke Davis, Sr. Product Manager, IDeaS

Time or money? Which does it take to clearly understand your estate’s performance? Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer.

Getting an accurate view of where you are for a single property is hard enough. As estates grow, the problem compounds and requires a greater investment. In answering the question “time or money,” hotelier’s often respond “yes to both”…with poor results. 

Today, I am proud to offer a new solution to the problem of multi-property performance evaluation and reporting. IDeaS Optix is the new best friend of cluster and corporate revenue managers everywhere. An advanced reporting and dashboarding module for IDeaS G3 Revenue Management System (RMS), Optix enables hotel groups to quickly gain insights across multiple properties and recognise important trends as they occur. 

Optix Origins

At long last, the most robust RMS in the biz gets a worthy data partner, but to fully appreciate the groundbreaking value Optix provides G3 RMS users, let’s wind the clock back a bit…

IDeaS had a lot of raw market feedback pointing us toward the need for something to assist hotels with multi-property performance reporting, but a large and differing market of users made it challenging to know where to start. As a product manager new to the hotel space, but not to software development, I wanted to find out why there wasn’t a go-to solution for this already. What problems were shared between the smaller organisations and the larger estates? Where was the opportunity for innovation? 

So we began the blessed work of gathering market research. Those we talked to had the same desire to understand their current position relative to the past and forecasted expectations—viewed from a handful of performance metrics, solved in aggregate at the estate level, for each property, and applied across standard windows of time.

And seemingly every group we spoke with went about trying to do this differently, with varying degrees of success. We found these organizations ultimately landed somewhere on a spectrum of where they chose to invest: 

  • Time Investment – Organisations on this end of the spectrum primarily use the tools at their disposal. Typically, this takes the form of Excel exports—snapshots of raw data pulled from the RMS and emailed up the chain of command. Those are then merged into a single master view for the estate. We heard no shortage of horror stories about how much time is lost to this task (weekly, biweekly, or monthly) and the results tended to be rough. More than once we heard “it’s as good as we can get” as we looked upon a Frankensteinian spreadsheet of large, inaccurate, unwieldy data joined together by neck-bolts.
  • Money Investment – And this is where we’d usually find the organisations large enough to buy or build a solution—a custom data import process, a data warehouse to hold that information, and something akin to Tableau. This build-your-own strategy presented its own frustrations: 
    • It’s expensive. This data can be very large, and if you want quick access, it requires a hefty infrastructure. Clients were often able to afford a portion of the solution, while aspects like pace data were just too expensive to maintain. 
    • It’s not a one-time purchase. Clients tended to go into this with a single price in mind. The reality is that data needs to be kept in sync constantly. The PMS goes down, connections break, data needs to be rolled back and reprocessed. No getting around it—that requires people.
    • It often misses the mark. This requires experts to build reports, visualise data, and create a user-friendly experience. Many ended up simply recreating those monster spreadsheets leaving revenue managers and hotel leaders frustrated at the final product. 
    • Staffing (again). Custom requests from folks who want changes or one-off reports can be overwhelming. This leads to a mass of one-off reports with no overall product vision. As associates come and go, these accumulate—a graveyard of custom-reports, similar and abandoned.

It’s in this space that IDeaS resolved to work with our clients on a novel solution. Building hospitality software is what we do, and we have the industry and technology expertise to do it best. We also have access to the most robust data, with enterprise-level infrastructure already powering our RMS. Finally, we have the people. Between our amazing clients, tech partners, and our own product, development, and design teams, we knew we could deliver the wow factor with a solution that exceeded expectations.

The Optix Experience

There’s a lot more to Optix than gets the optics—far too much to go into here. However, it’s worth calling out our design pillars: themes we built into the product, which will leave you with confidence in our solution: 

  • Agility – Our core job is to let you slice and dice your data. That means being able to go wide with all your properties and, at the same time, narrow in on a specific segment. 
  • Speed – We wanted to build something snappy and responsive. Revenue managers come to strategy meetings with data already in hand. What if we made something you can use during the meeting to answer questions as they arise? 
  • Visualisation – We wanted this thing to look sharp! Not just visually appealing, but with a purpose of helping you navigate large sets of data. We adopted a UX that surfaces problems and walks users through them in more detail, suggesting alternate views and offering help. 
  • Accessibility – If you’re more comfortable rolling up your sleeves and diving into Excel, you still can! Export whatever you need and leverage a strong ad-hoc reporting backbone that gives you access to practically everything in the database. 
  • Efficiency – Optix is designed for many people to share a common, real-time view into performance. We want to remove the need to export data and email it around—because the moment you do, that data is already stale. 

That’s the story of Optix so far. We listened to and worked with our clients, identified the need, set some markers to help us stay on course, and built the best multi-property reporting and intelligence system money can buy. Seemed only fitting next to IDeaS G3 RMS—the best RMS money can buy!