The pace at which the travel and hotel industry is innovating is quite intriguing. From gadgets that make stay of the customers more comfortable to innovations in booking, there has been an intrusion of advanced technology in every aspect of it. With this there has been a deluge of data on how hotels perform and hoteliers today are using technologies such as big data and analytics to not only design targeted marketing campaigns but also make informed pricing decisions for their inventories.
And this is where IDeaS Revenue Solutions is helping over 7500 hotels across the world find insightful ways to manage dynamic pricing decisions with its cloud-based, advanced analytics solutions. Its technology center in India integrates strong domain expertise in revenue management with capabilities in high end analytics and software development to support hotels on millions of pricing transactions every day as well support product innovation at IDeaS.
In conversation with K.S. Prashant, Managing Director, IDeaS Revenue Solutions, we have excerpts as below:
AIM Analytics India Magazine: Could you tell us about how IDeaS provide analytics solutions to the hospitality industry?
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KSP K.S. Prashant: IDeaS is the leading provider of analytical pricing and revenue management technology to the hospitality and travel industries.
AIM: What are the key differentiators in your analytical solutions?
KSP: From a purely analytical aspect, there are many features that differentiate IDeaS solutions in today’s market: high performance forecasting capabilities provide a dynamic selection of hundreds of forecasting algorithms and models for the best possible results; granular data and decisions are provided for multiple hotels by departments, segments, room types, day parts and rate codes; predictive analytical tools allow users to understand the impacts of changing their strategy; advanced pricing and inventory controls maximize revenue opportunities; and expanded data sources such as reputation, competitive performance, rate shopping and value of demand can be integrated into decision outputs.
AIM: What is the size and hierarchical alignment (both depth and breadth), of your analytics group?
KSP: IDeaS was acquired by the SAS® Institute in 2008. Our parent company has been the leader in applying analytics to solve business problems for over 40 years. So, this acquisition was – and still is – ground-breaking in that IDeaS’ powerful solutions are now additionally built with the sophisticated analytical horsepower that SAS brings to the analytics market.
AIM: How IDeaS’ software talent in India is helping achieve product innovation?
KSP: Our technology centre in Pune has people bringing skillsets in product development, front line support, analytics-based decision support, CRM (customer relationship management), and client training to provide services to customers globally. The cross-pollination of such diverse teams foster collaboration and the know-how for achieving customer-centric innovation.
We focus on building a culture that encourages our employees to continuously learn, try and experiment through collaboration. To this end, we have created some distinct external and internal forums, which give our employees an opportunity to trigger and incubate new ideas.
- To achieve the benefits of co-innovating with our customers, we have the Revenue Managers’ Forum where employees of IDeaS and professionals from leading hotels deep dive into the needs and challenges of the revenue management function in the hospitality industry. It also gives our engineers a first-hand view on how pricing decisions are used to run the operations in a hotel business.
- With TechJam, we aim to cultivate engagement with our peers in the industry by hosting knowledge sessions from accomplished tech professionals in our ecosystem.
- Another cross-functional program that helps seed innovation is Coding Katta, where our developers get an opportunity to hone their skills in critical thinking and problem-solving through coding contests.
These initiatives prepare employees for our flagship innovation program called ShipIT — a quarterly hackathon. ShipIT is a global platform for innovation which runs simultaneously across all IDeaS offices. At the end of the hackathon, the teams present their ideas over a video webcast. A company-wide voting is held to declare the final winner of the hackathon. So far, 56 ideas from ShipIT have been actioned to augment our products.
AIM: Can you list a specific instance where your analytics solution helped bring benefit to a client?
KSP: From revenue uplift to ease of automation to the positive effects on a hotel’s organizational structure, our solutions bring a myriad of tangible and intangible benefits to clients across the globe. Chinmai Sharma, chief revenue officer at Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces, recently cited the implementation of our solutions as a critical aspect of rethinking their overall business strategy. He also spoke highly of its positive impact on their organization’s change management process, which is an absolutely vital component of adapting to today’s fast-paced industry.
AIM: What are the most significant challenges you face being at the forefront in analytics space?
KSP: Being at the forefront of analytics means that we not only keep up with the pace, but stay ahead of the game in terms of product innovation and capabilities.
AIM: How do you think ‘Analytics’ as an industry is evolving today? What are key trends that you see emerging in the market today?
KSP: Analytics today is being driven forward by the growing amount of data and speed at which information changes. The incredibly fast evolution of internet-connected devices and the Internet of Things means that analytics needs to respond to challenges that are fed by large amounts of data which is changing constantly. This is leading to the increasing use of Machine Learning approaches, which allow computers to adapt “on the fly” to changing conditions.