Guest comment: Data flow

Chris Crowley, vice president, EMEA at HRS, explains how the continuity of data flow will change hotel sourcing forever

We move quickly – we hardly draw breath from one development/product/service/crisis challenge to the next – without a truly thorough understanding and appreciation of the reality that what we do is now a 24/7 cycle of connected data.

Everything is continuous. Everything is digitised.

We used to think of data as an engine; in recent years people would say that data is the new oil. In a more creative take on this, renowned data journalist David McCandless describes data as the new soil. Data is the earth in which we plant our ideas, our visualisations, our creative design to enhance our programmes, our processes, our communication, our value propositions, our understanding and customer engagement. Data is in essence a currency, a language; and it connects everything. It releases us from our closed environments and allows us to imagine new ways of doing business.

Here at HRS we have started to imagine a new frontier. By combining artificial intelligence with our customer data, we have found ways to put our customers back in control of their own programmes. Moreover, we collaborate with clients’ leaders to help ensure new lodging benefits are available to travellers – and that those programmes continuously evolve and develop to meet their changing needs. We filter out the errors and inaccuracies, reinstalling traveller confidence and driving newfound efficiency and compliance.

Continuous sourcing is here
It begins with Sourcing. In a recent BBT article titled Sourcing: Step change, Mark Harris identifies how continuous and dynamic sourcing are shaking up travel procurement processes. API access, travel 3.0, more informed buyers and a new generation of travellers is changing the way people are thinking. Technology stakeholders are disruptive, creative-thinking people untainted by traditional mindsets. There’s more data out there and more ways to aggregate and interpret that data to enable informed choices to be made.

Our business environment is changing. The closed technology verticals of the last 50 years have been superseded by open API environments which completely change our perspective. This new look facilitates a different, more creative and flexible approach that delivers a more rewarding data relationship.

At HRS, we are leveraging these new environments and hyper-connections to rapidly execute processes on behalf of our clients. The annual hotel sourcing exercise, long targeted for its length and inefficiency, has now been reduced to eight-week cycles.  By repeatedly triggering these cycles and infusing them with fresh benchmark data and finely-tuned forecasts, corporates are experiencing unprecedented insight into pricing that gives them markedly more intelligence to steer their programmes.

The beauty of continuous sourcing lies in the stark transparency it provides to the corporate/hotel supplier. Any number of issues can arise across the gulf of 12 months – from M&A activity by the corporate to new inventory coming online by suppliers in new and/or existing properties. Continuous sourcing allows room to capture these happenings – and the resulting opportunities – practically in real time.

For hoteliers seeking tighter relationships with corporates, continuous sourcing will showcase rate integrity and enhance the trust factor in a competitive landscape. Buyers using continuous sourcing can leverage benchmarking, tracking and forecasts to more accurately project their lodging expenditures. It’s a win-win.

This conversation is happening right now. To borrow from a famous and much loved management text, Our Iceberg Is Melting – but it’s melting into a beautiful sea of data possibility.

To hear more from data expert David McCandless and to take part in the discussion, join HRS at the Corporate Lodging Forum at the Hilton Metropole in Brighton on 29 April (in association with the ITM Conference the following two days). Check out the agenda at corporate-travel-forum.com/en-GB/uk2019

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