Easy benchmarking with Hotel Barometer from Tourism Flanders
The government agency, Tourism Flanders, launched the latest version of its online application, Hotel Barometer, at the start of April 2017. Together with IT consultant, Kohera, it has integrated Power BI in the new hotel operators’ portal, which has been comprehensively updated. Lots of work has been done to improve user-friendliness, and the new Barometer very much fulfils this requirement. Hotel owners can now use dynamic reporting to compare their hotel with others in the blink of an eye, and start-ups and researchers can explore the market very easily too. Tourism Flanders can also run targeted campaigns faster with more up-to-date information.
Dynamic reporting thanks to Power BI
Hotel Barometer isn’t new to Tourism Flanders; hotel operators have been able to look up reports, for example to find out occupancy rates, since 2012. Annual reports often were 200 pages long PDF files, which was not really userfriendly for readers. Jos Pyck, Marketing Office Consultant for Tourism Flanders, understood there was plenty of room for improvement: ‘Those documents weren’t really very user-friendly, and the monthly reports weren’t much better; they’d been written by researchers for researchers, so were quite complicated. But they were still very much in demand because they were so useful, which is why we wanted to update them.’
Power BI was chosen because of its value and user-friendliness. Data is collected and entered in the software for all the hotels that give their consent. The result: compact custom reports. Anyone who wants to benchmark their hotel can now do so very quickly and easily. ‘Hotels that want to perform an analysis can apply various filters such as area, occupancy rate and price category. This provides them with relevant information straight away, so they save lots of time sifting through dozens of pages and still not getting very far,’ explains Pyck. ‘Of course, you can’t use it just to have a quick look at what your competitors are doing; you always need to compare a group of at least three hotels to see trends, which safeguards privacy. Nobody gets to see individual details, not even us.’
Everything in one place
To provide even more support, Tourism Flanders has also developed a portal for both hotel operators and guests. Hotel owners can create a profile which enables them to update and share their information with a third party, such as a publisher of travel guides. They can also look up reports and read valuable information about their sector. And the portal incorporates the Barometer now too. ‘Hotel operators can log in to this portal with a unique ID assigned by the cultural sector. We use embedded Power BI, so owners can see everything in a familiar environment straight away. We used to send a link out by email, but this was very laborious and it sometimes got lost or went wrong somewhere,’ explains Pyck.
Hotel operators can log in to this portal with a unique ID assigned by the cultural sector. We use embedded Power BI, so owners can see everything in a familiar environment straight away.
Hotel operators are required to provide their data to the Federal Public Service (FPS) Economy, and all this data, which is used for the reports, is collated in the same place. The owners used to have to provide this information twice, including to Tourism Flanders as well, until the new application appeared online. But now it’s all entered automatically from the existing database. Jos Pyck: ‘When a hotel submits its information to the FPS, it now also has the option of sharing this data with us. With their consent, we simply get this information from our colleagues, which saves the hotel owners a lot of administrative work. It also means our data is always accurate and up to date.’
A tool for everyone
It’s not just hotel operators who benefit from this updated application and Power BI; Tourism Flanders, journalists and businesses are reaping the rewards too: ‘We can run more targeted campaigns now because we can see current market trends in the blink of an eye. We’ve already noticed that lots of our neighbours to the north visit Flanders in the winter, for example, so we can push our advertising in the Netherlands during that period. The more hotels share their data, the more targeted we can be,’ continues Jos Pyck.
‘Journalists and banks often ask us about occupancy rates, too. Lots of media agencies wanted to know what impact the terrorist attack on 22 March had on tourism, for example. Now they can look this information up for themselves using the Barometer, which saves us lots of valuable time. And businesses need this information too, to check a new venture’s chance of success, for example. They can even use it to substantiate their application for a bank loan.’
Move with the times
The new accommodation act has been in force since 1 April 2017, and has already resulted in several significant changes in the world of overnight accommodation. New concepts such as glamping and tree huts are included now too, along with online rentals such as Airbnb, and all these types of accommodation are required to provide their data to the FPS Economy. ‘We also want to make new data from guest rooms and camp sites available, so that we can help an even wider public, and not just hotels.’ explains Jos Pyck.
Kohera the logical choice
Jos Pyck explains why they chose Kohera: ‘We considered three different packages, including Microsoft Power BI, which ultimately came out on top because of its price and flexibility with licences. Power BI is also extremely user-friendly, and we wanted to be able to use the software ourselves once it was implemented. Fortunately, Frederik Aerts, Senior BI Consultant for Kohera, was the perfect person to guide us. He kept the project on track, within budget, and ensured all deadlines were met, explaining everything we needed to know to get started in just half a day.’
Jos Pyck: ‘Power BI is also extremely user-friendly, and we wanted to be able to use the software ourselves once it was implemented. Fortunately, Frederik Aerts, Senior BI Consultant for Kohera, was the perfect person to guide us.’
He came to work in the Tourism Flanders office to make sure we never got stuck, sometimes working with the management team, and on other days with the IT department. ‘Frederik was able to answer all our questions straight away. His presence on site saved us a lot of emails and phone calls, and we could arrange brainstorming sessions very quickly or ask for an explanation whenever things got too technical. Things that might be obvious to an IT expert certainly aren’t always easy for us.’ laughs Jos Pyck. ‘Kohera combines flawless expertise with clear, open lines of communication. We’re very happy with the collaboration and the way this project turned out.’