There's a real-time revolution happening in hotel operations

A preview of Phocuswright's research report Real-Time Revolution in Hotel Operations

As the world emerges from the pandemic, the hotel industry faces new challenges and opportunities. Data has long been used to help make operating decisions but real-time data is the beating heart through which forward-looking plans flow. It allows hoteliers to maximize profits while also optimizing business delivery and continuously improving guest experiences. Hotel operators today have unparalleled access to real-time and forecast data. Once a system is in place to bring together operational, labor and revenue data, a new kind of decision making can happen. When every system is connected and leadership can look at the operation holistically, they can respond to the precise situations that unfold each day (because they are more easily anticipated).  

By examining how the hotel’s operations function in their current state, all the micro-decisions that contribute to optimizing overall performance can be improved. Simply put, this can result in higher profitability and enhanced guest experience. This article is a preview of the full Phocuswright report Real-Time Revolution in Hotel Operations which explores various real-time, data-centric approaches that can be used to achieve these goals, focusing on how the following five operational areas can be optimized: 

  • Labor scheduling and staffing 
  • Team member performance 
  • Sales data for trends 
  • Operational function automation 
  • Ancillary revenue from guest behavior data 

Using Data to Inform Labor Scheduling and Staffing Decisions 

Given the heightened challenges of finding and managing a workforce in the post-pandemic era, one of the most impactful data applications is in labor scheduling and staffing decisions.

Staffing should be approached based on specific daily demand, projected through business intelligence and forecasting tools. This means: 

  • Daily scheduling to different day-parts based on when available staff can work 
  • Overnight cleans through cleaning agencies or contract labor 
  • Rolling rooms (e.g., not cleaning dirty rooms) on days when that evening will not have a sell-out  

By using data to inform these micro-decisions, hotels can optimize their labor costs while still providing high-quality service to their guests. 

Analyzing Team Member Performance Data 

In addition to using data to inform labor scheduling and staffing decisions, hotels can also use data to analyze team member performance. Real-time performance means that an operator can intervene before small problems become bigger systemic issues. It also allows operators to spot good trends early and double down.  

Pairing tried and true data with real-time data can help hotel operators identify new micro-areas to improve their operations and reduce costs. Get the full report to see the top productivity benchmarks to address, from a macro, full-hotel level, to a micro role-level.

Identifying Operational Functions That Can Be Automated 

Another benefit of using operational data is identifying tasks that can be automated, or opportunities to augment team member efforts. This could lead to both cost savings and freeing up team members to deliver more personalized services. Software, AI, virtual team member support and robot support are all platforms to consider.

Implementing new technology is hard but testing out “what if” scenarios on a few shifts and seeing if in real time the desired impact happens makes it easier.

Predicting Ancillary Revenue Sources by Evaluating Guest Behavior Patterns 

Another way that data can help maximize profits is by predicting new ancillary revenue sources by evaluating changing guest behavior patterns for each market where hotels operate. With the rise of conversational interactions within hotel chat, a new kind of unstructured data is available. Aggregating guest request types can flag specific sales opportunities for a hotel.

Developing a program for and selling these services, versus reacting ad-hoc is a revenue opportunity.

Additionally, hotels should take a macro approach to evaluate pre-stay conversations with guests. What are top questions, requests and concerns? To maximize profits, hotels can consider how to turn external requests or concerns into direct revenue solutions. At a bare minimum, an operational process should be in place to pull daily “free form” field requests in reservation bookings and task management software.  

Conclusion and Recommendations 

Real-time data analysis is becoming increasingly important for hotels looking to optimize their performance and maximize profits. By using real-time data to inform micro-decisions, hotels can increase efficiency, cut costs, and improve guest satisfaction. From scheduling and staffing to automated systems and ancillary revenue sources, data can inform decisions that improve overall performance. 

As we adapt to changing travel patterns, challenges in the labor market and inflationary pressures, the productive use of data will become critical to remain competitive. Embracing a data-centric approach using systems that synthesize all available data may require investment in new technology and training for staff. Nevertheless, the benefits in terms of increased revenue and improved guest experiences make it a worthwhile investment for hotels of all sizes. 

Note: The authors are executives at Actabl, a real-time business intelligence and hotel operations management software platform formed in 2022 from the merger of ProfitSword, Hotel Effectiveness, Alice and Transcendent. 

This article is part of a content series that explores some of the most impactful innovation and technology-driven trends that will influence the travel industry in 2023 and beyond.

Watch the online event that covered each trend, presented by Phocuswright analysts:


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