PHUKET: Surveys are often seen as one of the lowest forms of data collection for a variety of reasons. Often respondents may not provide accurate answers or be comfortable providing answers that are perceived as unfavorable. Nonetheless, as STR Global has shown with more than 30 years of data collection in the hotel industry, important and valuable data can be gleaned by well-designed and developed surveys.
Part of that success comes from the enormous data set used by the hotel data collection and analysis company.
“STR Global has been established as the leading global provider of competitive benchmarking, information services and research to the hotel industry for over 30 years. We are currently gathering performance data from over 52,000 hotels in more than 160 countries,” explains Fenady Uriarte, STR Global’s Southeast Asia business development manager.
The company states that its mission is to democratize data intelligence and provide one standardized worldwide platform, consistent methodology, transparency and quality service around the world.
“In line with our mission to provide our clients with the best data, STR/STR Global data reporting guidelines were developed to align with the Uniform System of Accounts for the Lodging Industry, Eleventh Revised Edition (USALI). The guidelines align with USALI to uphold benchmarking best practices and performance data consistency,” says Ms Uriarte.
The detailed understanding of the industry and the nuances in the Data Reporting Guidelines are fundamental to the usefulness of the data set collected via the ‘Hotel Survey’.
In the guidelines, the small questions that could force a participant to incorrectly adjust figures through misunderstanding are clearly outlined. For example, “Only revenue generating guestrooms should be reported to STR/STR Global as rooms sold. Complimentary rooms should be excluded in the rooms sold figures.”
Another excellent example for reporting rooms available is this:
“There should be no adjustment in room availability reported to STR/STR Global if rooms are temporarily out of service for renovation. If a property removes all rooms from inventory for renovation (complete closure), STR/STR Global should be notified so that the property may be marked as ‘Renovation Closed’. If rooms are permanently removed from inventory, hotel management should contact STR/STR Global to adjust the hotel’s room count. Additionally, if rooms are closed for an extended period of time (typically over six months), ‘Extended Closed Rooms’.”
The section goes on to explain how to deal with seasonal closures and mix-ownership properties.
“When we receive the data, they are checked for accuracy and for adherence to our reporting guidelines,” says Ms Uriarte. “In addition, our data team keeps track of data errors by using algorithms. Any data submitted that exceeds or falls below the allowable range are not accepted. There will be a notification to flag the data provider of the potential error. The ecosystem is built around trust and over 30 years, hoteliers around the world have also recognized that it is in everyone’s best interest to provide accurate and timely data.”
The incentive for hoteliers to provide accurate data comes through the understanding of the need for data intelligence and the industry desire to use STR benchmarking programs.
“For example, by using the STAR Report, a benchmarking program that allows a hotel to compare its performance against its aggregate competitive set and local market, a revenue manager or hotel manager can accurately track and manage their hotel performance against the market according to the real conditions in his or her marketplace,” says Ms Uriarte.
One strategic data point that hoteliers find important in the STAR Report is the ranking, which sets a property’s performance against hotels in the competitive set. The three key areas used in determining the ranking are occupancy, average daily rate and revenue per available room. By misreporting information to STR in the Hotel Survey, a company would skew its ranking, making it more difficult to determine which business decisions are necessary to make based on the data provided.
Of course, the crux is that is that STR ensures the confidentiality of the data, as failing to do so would allow hoteliers to make targeted attacks on direct competitors based on the information provided.
“Strict controls are maintained in each processing step to ensure that data is handled responsibly. We report aggregated data only. We do not release individual hotel, brand or company-specific data. This is part of the trust that enabled STR to become the industry standard around the world,” confirms Ms Uriarte.
— Isaac Stone Simonelli
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