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Read article in Hospitality Technology here.

In the hotel industry, lack of data is not the problem. The challenge is actually making sense – and making use – of too much data. Hotel owners and operators already understand the value of acquiring detailed information about their guests and operations. The industry is actually one of the earliest to devise effective methods of capturing that information.

Today, hotels regularly monitor everything from social media mentions and guest metrics to front-of-house data, staffing, operations information and scheduling. Operationally, hotels are attempting to conduct quick analyses of that data and act on those results in real time. Using those conclusions, hoteliers may accommodate or reward guests, adjust schedules, refine or optimize room-cleaning schedules, or highlight service and maintenance priorities. It’s all designed to provide superior guest service, rectify problems, respond to poor reviews, ensure that power users/rewards members receive VIP attention, and ultimately to stay ahead of the curve with respect to emerging developments.

Essentially, hotels want to identify trends before they become trends. But, no matter how effective hotel chains become at gathering large amounts of information, consistently and efficiently leveraging that massive amount of data is no easy task.

Here, Scott Jones, Enterprise Account Manager specializing in hospitality data visualization for iDashboards, offers insights into how dashboard technology represents a promising solution. Essentially, dashboards consolidate large amounts of data from numerous sources into a single-screen, visual format. More succinctly, it turns data into extraordinarily detailed interactive charts and graphs.

Well-designed dashboards can facilitate an unprecedented degree of information management: delivering a detailed and comprehensive portrait of operations in real time. The clarity, transparency and immediacy of dashboards are appealing, but the true power of the technology stems from its ease-of-use and ability to deliver visual displays.

The most effective dashboards are programmable and completely customized, using integrated software that unlocks hidden connections between seemingly disconnected information and events. Users can subsequently translate raw information into useful intelligence, extract clarity out of operational complexity and enhance overall strategic decision-making.

The benefits of such a system are significant. Dashboards can be used to monitor standard metrics like room rates and RevPAR, as well as guest variables and feedback based on survey responses or online activity. RevPAR is especially sensitive because of the inherent variability in the industry. In the competitive hotel marketplace, there are so many factors impacting the true price and cost of a room that the ability to make instantaneous informed judgments is critical.

Such calculations often get more complicated in places like Las Vegas, where casinos and other entertainment options alter the value equation in fundamental ways. There, hotel operators are more likely to accept smaller margins–or even a loss–as long as a guest is taking advantage of other on-site dining and entertainment options. Fortunately, dashboards now make it possible to assess total value, enabling decision-making to exchange short-term loss for long-term gain. Do you hold an available suite or give someone as an upgrade that will enhance brand loyalty without taking a hit? Dashboards inform those decisions and make it possible to become more strategic–not just in your decision-making, but also by enhancing your ability to evaluate programs and policies. Hoteliers no longer need to wait until the end-of-year report to assess efficiency.

For these reasons, dashboards are effective for larger portfolios as well as individual hotels. And, for owners and investors looking to make big decisions about real estate investments and holdings, immediate access to the right data and metrics is a game-changer.

Ultimately, the goal is to capture as much income from guests as possible, without affecting brand loyalty–a fairly straightforward proposition. Dashboards provide the ability to access precise real-time data in the context of overall operations, a capability that was previously impossible. Hidden patterns, trends and outliers become more apparent, and those insights translate into a more robust bottom line. Every hotel operation can benefit from a dashboard solution that provides clearer, more concise and consolidated reporting, where all critical information is aggregated into a single resource.