Arranging a Suite of Analytics for Hotel Data


Lisa Targonski

Date Published:
September 6, 2022

My colleagues and I recently returned from a fantastic conference in Nashville. The Hotel Data Conference, hosted by STR and Hotel News Now, just finished its 14th year highlighting expert analyses, new strategies and best practices.

Speakers were comprised of leaders from across the industry, including Marriott International, Hyatt, Remington Hotels, Marcus Hotels and Resorts, Hilton, and our own Evan Wimpey. Several tools were discussed by sponsors and attendees, all striving to help hoteliers and their surrounding infrastructure perform their best in the current environment.

The most intriguing questions we encountered at our booth, however, were agnostic to any tool. They fell into two main categories:

What does Elder “do” with data?
I’ve been hired to build analytics. Where do I start?

What we “do” with data

While many vendors in the data and analytics space sell an off-the-shelf solution to common problems, Elder Research specializes in using a client’s data to create unique solutions to their unique challenges.

There is value in repeatable solutions, of course, and we offer some great ones. They can aid in benchmarking and often have a lower start-up cost than something specifically made for the end user.

But for companies aiming to differentiate from their peers or wanting to find a new niche in the market, there can be incredible value in leveraging their own data (not purchased) to build a right-sized algorithm to address things such as customer lifetime valueprice elasticity, and optimizing the use of promotional budgets.

One of the key things we do with data is make it more clear, accessible, and actionable for our clients.

While we can partner with data-selling vendors to benchmark initiatives for our clients, our main focus is not to buy or sell data, but to curate and analyze client data to derive custom insights now and in the future.

At the end of our engagements, we leave our clients’ data with them, to continue to use with the models we’ve built or to use in other ways on their own. If data leads to knowledge and knowledge is power, we want to leave our clients with the power to continue to excel alongside of and beyond our initial engagement.

I’ve been hired to build analytics. Where do I start?

The easiest answer is to first do an assessment. From an understanding of existing data, infrastructure, tools, internal capabilities, existing vendor partnerships and the like, you can begin to identify strengths and gaps and seek ways to address them.


When conducting an Analytics Assessment consider the following five areas:


How sophisticated is your organization’s analytical capability, including its ability to evaluate solutions and provide governance over data analytics?
step image


Are process stakeholders within your organization capable of, and involved in, framing questions in a manner that enables data-driven decision-making?
step image


Is a framework in place to guide project execution that can assess multiple potential solutions using specific selection criteria aligned to the organization’s needs?
step image


Is the appropriate IT and technical infrastructure in place to meet your analytical processing needs?
step image


Is the “tone from the top” fostering a culture where people feel safe to accept data that may mean admitting a past decision is no longer the right decision?
step image

It also pays to think about the potential ROI of analytics investments and ensure you’re maximizing it.

Multiple studies suggest that over 80% of artificial intelligence projects fail to be implemented, and you don’t want that on your books. Make sure you’ve prepped the broader team for analytics initiatives and that your data is ready.

And lastly, make sure you’ve got the right people on board. Whether using internal team members or vendor partners, you’ll want to be sure to include subject matter experts, analytics expertise and someone who can champion the project along the way.


In hospitality — whether you’re in finance, human resources, investments, marketing, or sales — there are common factors in wisely using your data to build and optimize your business. While off-the-shelf solutions are great for some needs, you may also benefit from a unique view or model of your data that sets you apart from competitors and lets you retain ownership of the data and the algorithm behind it. And, while building out analytics in a new environment can seem daunting, there are key steps around assessing, planning, and identifying the right people that can set you up for success. You can do this. We’d love to help.

Related Resources

The Problem With Forecasting in the Hospitality Industry

Watch the video

Using Data to Operate Hotels Efficiently at IHG with Jay Lanterman | Mining Your Own Business Podcast

Listen to the Podcast