OTA data: when less can sometimes be more
You are planning a mini-break to surprise your partner.
You have always wanted to visit Budapest and have found some good return flights. But you don’t know the city at all and it’s all so last-minute, so if you don’t book a hotel now, you’ll be sleeping in the arrivals lounge at the airport.
As a hotel revenue manager you know the ins and outs of pricing, and the channels you should use. But there just isn’t the time to approach this scientifically, so you simply type “good value hotels budapest” into Google and hope for the best.
In a panic you click on one of the first results for a 3-star hotel near the river. Though this takes you through to a selection of OTAs, so you can check you are getting the price for this hotel, you haven’t properly assessed that landscape. But you just go ahead and book anyway.
It’s a nice enough hotel but during your stay you can’t shake off the feeling that had you been more thorough, you would have found something better.
As consumers we make choices every day. Some big, some small.
We don’t always get them right, even with access to a literal world of data - the search above renders nearly two and a half million results.
But we can live with these occasional mistakes.
Getting data right: when the stakes are higher
What happens, though, when it’s not a one-off, when you are the seller and you’re responsible for generating revenue for hundreds of hotel rooms?
Yes, you might have access to a lot - and not just through Google - but can your business actually rely on the accuracy of the data you use to make the right dynamic pricing decisions?
What if poor-quality data from untrustworthy, contradictory sources means you are making the wrong decisions on price-sensitive subjects day in, day out – or you are not even being alerted to the fact that new decisions are needed in the first place?
Losing business, or winning it but at a suboptimal price, seriously affects your bottom line, and in a market as competitive as hospitality, you need to protect your revenue more than most. Which is why you or your colleagues no doubt invest a lot of time in weighing up the local competition.
But are you spending too much time on bad data?
If you have had your fingers burnt using price comparison tools that boast of the number of sources they draw on but gloss over their accuracy and duplications, you might have resorted to manually checking rivals’ prices.
But there is another way: using a software that taps into a lot of sources and focuses its efforts on ensuring high levels of data purity, on the freshness of that data, and providing a variety of information types that give you a clearer picture on why a room is priced like it is for more meaningful comparisons.
How to achieve meaningful data
At Lighthouse, we mine a large number of data sources, which broadly fall into one of three categories:
Branded sites – hotels’ own websites;
OTAs - online travel agents such as Booking.com and Expedia;
Metasearch websites – aggregators and comparison sites used by your customers, such as Tripadvisor and Trivago.
This isn’t unique.
What is unique is the up-to-date context and depth of coverage we provide. It’s all about quality over quantity.
Data quality over quantity
We achieve this through mining data only from trusted sources, cleverly structuring it, and operating a rigorous quality control regime. Think of it as our living by an advanced checklist.
Data purity is hugely compromised by anomalies, such as when data about a room published on two sites conflicts (Hotelbeds calls your smallest rooms Club Rooms, but on Booking.com they’re sold as Standard Rooms) . Our systems are set up to adapt to these small differences so you can compare the correct room types.
If you view your user-tailored information on our portal, you can refresh your data for live updates. And if you receive your information in a daily or weekly report, we will also send you an email displaying the biggest changes that we detected, keeping your view of the competition as pure as possible.
The full picture - comparing apples with apples
But it is not just about accuracy. It’s about detail. Knowing that a competitor’s room costs £90 whereas yours is £85 can lead you into a false sense of security if you don’t know that the competing room also includes breakfast. Similarly, if a slightly more expensive room has a more forgiving cancellation policy than yours, it puts it at a distinct advantage.
The solutions on the Lighthouse platform are designed to capture this often-decisive information and bring it to the surface so you can consider adjusting your prices accordingly.
With access to pure data from trusted sources, you can rely on the right rate shopper - such as Rate Insight - as your go-to portal for pricing insight, thereby increasing the efficiency of your competitor analysis and protecting your bottom line.