Data-focused managerial challenges within the hotel sector

Markus Lamest (Trinity Business School, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland)
Mairead Brady (Trinity Business School Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland)

Tourism Review

ISSN: 1660-5373

Publication date: 4 February 2019



The purpose of this paper is to explore the managerial decision-making challenges of the use of data from online and offline customer data flooding into firms and managed through interactive dashboards. The paper provides insights into how managers within the hotel sector both manage and use the data as a core tool in discussions with finance managers/directors during negotiation on critical marketing investments.


The research design followed a multiple-case study design of five market-orientated hotels, which were selected as high performing data and dashboard users. Across each case company multiple informants were interviewed and shadowed, including marketing managers, general managers and finance managers/directors. There was also an in-depth investigation of the collection, dissemination and particularly use of traditional market research data and online data from social media sites, web sites and web and mobile analytics. This was augmented by a study of the customized, off site managed interactive databases, in use in all case companies.


This paper identifies managerial challenges experienced by general managers, marketing and financial managers using digital customer data. It investigated the power of the customer voice internally and found that unstructured qualitative data had greater visibility and usage once supported by a financial imperative. It also found that the use of interactive dashboards were a powerful manifestation of data technology use and increased marketing’s visibility, power and accountability within the firm.

Research limitations/implications

The paper provided a limited hotel perspective which impacts on generalizability. The findings should be tested quantitatively to ascertain their validity across a wider sector of businesses and operations. Though multiple site and cross-functional research adds value, one site might have provided more depth.

Practical implications

This paper reveals that managers need support in terms of time, resources and personnel to manage the flood of information into their organizations. It also suggested that general and marketing managers need to develop the skills to interpret the data for decision-making, so that the financial implications are understand.


Most social media studies within the hotel sector focus on the impact of social media reviews on consumer purchasing processes and/or on how managers communicate online with consumers. This paper takes an internal managerial perspective on data use for decision-making. This paper expands our understanding of marketing strategic decision-making through an in-depth exploration into how cross-functional decision-making uses contemporary customer data.



Markus Lamest and Mairead Brady (2019) "Data-focused managerial challenges within the hotel sector", Tourism Review, Vol. 74 No. 1, pp. 104-115

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