Removing Barriers to Profitability for a Global Hospitality Chain

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Hospitality Giant Increases Performance with Custom Analytics Management Software for Franchise Owners and Operators

Snapshot

The second-largest hospitality chain in the world was using an off-the-shelf franchise management solution to provide insights to their owners/operators. They discovered a need to provide clear, actionable, and consistent data to owners, operators, and franchisees in order to increase revenue and loyalty retention. But the company, like many companies, was battling disparate data, a lack of insights, legacy systems that take time to change, and the inability to meet the high demand for data innovation in the field. 

The solution? Refining a BI platform and a custom frontend application that make insights consumable by non-sophisticated data users, while also making data actionable for sophisticated users. 

middle-aged woman with black glasses and big smile

Incredibly exciting work! The progress is really wonderful to see and these products will make a real difference for our organization looking forward.

VP of Data

Services

Research

Vision-Casting

Strategy

Prototyping

Product Development

Get simple, actionable insights to your frontline — in 90 days.

The Challenge

— What We Were Up Against
a frustrated hotel manager and employee looking at dirty data on a laptop

The hotel brand was running on insufficient legacy management software.

The original franchise management software was used as an improvised SaaS management tool that was being leveraged for a purpose it was never designed for, leading to additional problems such as: 

  • A cloud platform that was not easily customizable and an embedded business analysis tool that was locked down, making our team at RevUnit unable to engage with it. The result was an inability to deliver a tailored UX experience.
  • An inferior user experience within the management system.
  • Poorly presented data that impacted important decision-making opportunities at hotels.

The hotel brand was lagging behind the competition.

There was hesitancy to turn to custom development due to the philosophy that the firm should leverage existing components of SaaS or cloud services as a solution rather than the path of custom software ownership. The company continued to use SaaS solutions to attempt to fit into their specific business needs.

Ultimately, the hotel brand's decentralized hotel model left them disconnected.

There was a core set of corporate KPIs not adopted by all levels of franchisee management at all franchises. The decentralized hotel model left many franchisees struggling to connect with the brand and see the brand’s value. 

Two female POC and a male POC workshopping together at a desk reviewing materials and on a laptop

Additional Technical Challenges

Technically speaking, there was a need to modernize, streamline, organize, standardize, and innovate their data practices. With over 75% of the company owned by owners and operators, not having the most up-to-date data tools to put into the hands of management and the frontline employees put the company at a competitive disadvantage.

Recognizing the extent of work and importance of the project timeline, we introduced a new agile approach that included two-week sprints with sprint reviews and backlog, including a long-term solution for success.

RevUnit helped to fill the gap of building software applications, while also teaching best practices in building software which proved to be a significant improvement — for example, talking about releases, focusing on the end-user, and more.

The Partnership

— Where It All Began

The goal of the partnership was to provide real-time insights to owners and operators so they could improve productivity and profitability while ensuring that the franchise owners and operators saw the value they were receiving in being a partner.

RevUnit was initially brought in to advise on data visualization within the existing tool.

Once the audit was underway, it became evident that there was an immediate need to create an operational application for all franchise owners and operators. The company initially hired us to make the legacy management tool look and function better. However, because the tool did not align with the vision of being easily accessible/consistent, flexible, dynamic, modern, and unable to integrate to mobile, it was clear that a new tool was needed.

The goal of the application was to deliver quick insights into the indicators and drivers of hotel performance. Our team would accomplish this by driving those actionable insights to improve performance, with automating triggers as just one example of how this was done.

In an attempt to move fast on the first version of the application, RevUnit was called in to build the internal capabilities. The opportunity allowed us to curate multiple sources of data and better data visualization while offering a more UX-friendly dashboard, a necessary upgrade from the previous tool.

The engineering, product development, and design teams at RevUnit were the right partners for this project as we brought the technology chops to execute, the teach and do model of service, and the forward-thinking strategy for scalable innovation. 

Phase 01: Curating the Possible
male designer writing on sticky note in front of maker board with phone wireframes

After an extensive audit of the first legacy management software, RevUnit presented the "Art of the Possible" to redefine the company's future strategy and vision for the new data management product.

Next up was the design for the product. RevUnit experts designed two versions of the tool in parallel lanes: 

  • The first lane would create a straightforward data-management focused minimum viable product (MVP) version (what we knew was possible). 
  • The second lane would strive to create the ideal product and what it should be based on the vision and mission of the company, all while working under no restrictions.
Phase 02: Import and Impact
curly hair woman a drawing data diagram in a conference room with participants

Phase two began by importing and modeling the data into the new data architecture and integrating it into the new BI platform to be used by data analysts within the company. As a part of the build, we experienced the difficulty and importance of creating the shared canonical data model, or CDM, which is a design pattern that allows different data sets and formats to communicate.

We built the underlying data models into the new layer of the BI tool as well as a designed user experience within the tool for data analysts. Part of the user experience within this tool is a data layer that can be accessed and experienced independently, with deep diving capabilities of data that users can investigate on their own. The custom front-end layer gave our team control over custom UX and UI. This means that the delivery will focus less on the analyst and more on the everyday person or employee who wants the “report card” view, ultimately making the application more intuitive.

Phase 03: Design for Data Delivery
friendly hotel employee greeting guests as they check-in

This phase was all about designing and providing a compelling, custom user experience through data insight delivery. After spending time in the guts of their data, the team began building the architecture. The focus shifted to the design of the front-end UX and customer experience. 

We created a custom application which provided a curated user experience to the most critical clients. This experience would help educate the user about the insights provided. The exposure made it possible for owners and operators with more simplistic, filtered needs to get the information they need in real-time. The data became actionable for the analysts who needed an in-depth analysis of the data, while also being actionable for the more casual user who would benefit from using the simple frontend interface on the go.

The Solution

— What Was Built

The solution was to build a rich data platform for franchisees that connects to an interactive platform within the management software tool. This platform would then provide a consistent set of metrics and KPIs for internal and external franchise management to benchmark against each other. 

Intended Users:

mobile and laptop view of different KPI and insights of the software built

Project Highlight ———

Art of the Possible

The Art of the Possible presentation was the turning point of the project. Art of the Possible allowed our team to cast a vision for the potential that lived inside of the custom management tool they needed to deliver the best insights to their hard-working teams. RevUnit's ability to execute and help the company understand the magnitude and momentum that the new tool would bring launched the partnership into a long-term relationship.

The presentation allowed the company to see and feel the improvements that the application would bring — while also helping them to see that the old Saas application they were building was not meeting their needs. Our team helped with the build vs. buy analysis as well as helping to consult their legacy vendor selection. Ultimately, the vision casting — showing them what was truly capable in a tool like this – gave them the confidence to move forward with the custom layer solution.

a guy with short curly hair putting sticky notes on a board, brainstorm workshop

Building on a Reliable Partnership

We were told that our team brought two essential factors to the table: a great attitude + flexibility. We believe that it is a privilege to truly help our partners by going out of our way to assist them and solve their problems.

Hispanic male with a large smile, beard, wearing glasses

We have demonstrated extreme flexibility and innovation despite tons of changes. There has been an evolving bureaucratic thing (with big enterprises) in which vendors fall away if they cannot be flexible. RevUnit has been able to be flexible. We understand the dynamic that exists with changes and pressures, stakeholders, vendors, incumbents, etc. We do well with innovation.

Danny Estavillo, Chief Revenue Officer, RevUnit

Future Plans

— Oh, The Possibilities!

The future is bright as we plan to continue building more advanced analytics with more ML/AI-driven insights. With a phenomenal partnership and a hospitality company who is positioned for sustainable growth, we look forward to expanding the horizon further and opening more doors together.

young man with snapback hat, black glasses, pink bowtie, and a nice big smile

Going forward we are hoping to leverage AI/ML and deepen our understanding of what actions could be consistently available across internal and external users for the betterment of the KPI sets. Ideally, after seeing the data and how it impacts them, we now want to give them the next step.

Brandon Lyon, Sr. Product Designer, RevUnit

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