By Larry and Adam Mogelonsky

There are some classic metrics that hotels use to benchmark performance – namely, RevPAR and ADR. If you’ve been reading our column, you’ll know that we are in favor of developing thoroughly connected tech stacks that will allow hotels to measure TRevPAR – total revenue per guest – in order to guide business intelligence and make better decisions about which customers to target.

But with more granular operational data tied in, hotels can perhaps measure even more. These might be called ‘soft data’ or ‘soft metrics’ in years past, but now our industry’s systems are becoming advanced enough to bring them into the fold when making decisions.

F&B Soft Metrics

A hypothetical restaurant offers a simplified example of this shift away from just topline revenue for a given space (like RevPAR). For a dining outlet, easy metrics may include gross revenue per day broken down by food and alcohol, average revenue by timeslot or average revenue per cover. You may even want to get more granular and go dish by dish or drink by drink, as well as total covers by time by day, average turn time, percent of covers that ordered dessert and so on.

But what would ‘soft’ observations tell you about meal satisfaction, like the average tip amount left or how many dishes went unfinished? You likely already know that someone who didn’t tip and didn’t clean their plate was dissatisfied and won’t be coming back willingly any time soon. It’s not a certainty, of course, but smoothed out over hundreds or thousands of similar covers will give you a more accurate picture of what’s impeding loyalty. These might be hard to record, though, and you may only get qualitative answers from your supervisors. Still, this is where we are headed.

Other questions may require a big data set to infer more complex answers like if there’s a relationship between certain food orders and alcohol spend. For instance, if you find that two or three dishes consistently result in minimal beverage spend then what’s your case for keeping them on the menu? Do tables of four spend more per person than tables of two? This can suggest configuration changes. Is there a connection between certain servers and increased patron spends or satisfaction?

Using Reviews as a Soft Metric

New sentiment analysis tools become instrumental because, with a lean team, you don’t have the time to analyze the word uses embedded within hotel reviews. Besides addressing those one-star TripAdvisor reviews, are there any popular keywords that can be used to augment your marketing materials? What phrases within reviews can you use to guide operations? Aggregated mentions may even inform what will increase look-to-book ratios, how to build meaningful packages or promotions and where to earmark future capex to drive long-term asset value.

Next, what can you infer from in-stay surveys for error recovery? What measurements will signal to you that you have indeed recovered, besides not seeing a negative online review pop up? As an idea, you could test a loyalty subscription prompt after a negative in-stay survey then measure the relationship between who signed up and additional onsite revenue capture. This would require some more integrations into your PMS or whichever system is housing your guest profile data, but luckily the technology exists to do this.

More Data Means More Metrics

By thinking in terms of getting data on everything, you can then see why technology advancements like attribute-based selling (ABS), guest messaging chatbots, AI-driven phone IVRs and in-room voice controls or smart speakers are important. For this ABS, if you were to rearrange or break down room categories based on select room features, then you could see which of these amenities are motivating sales. This can lead to a reordering of room classifications or upsell opportunities.

Next, with chatbots or anything voice-related, you are in essence digitizing guest requests that would typically be handled by a live agent, via direct message on social media or within an email exchange. Getting more data on what people are asking and when will help to reduce inquiry abandonment and drive conversions.

There’s a lot that can be done, so for now just think about what data you are recording as well as where that data is being stored. Beyond augmenting the service that current guests receive and derive more revenues from customers who find you, soft metrics will not give you data to guide continuous operational improvements, but also help with forward-looking travel intent and efficiently discerning lookalike audiences to optimize tight marketing budgets.

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Editor’s note: To discuss business challenges or speaking engagements please contact Larry or Adam directly.