How data trends shape our content

Stephanie Ricca

Stephanie RiccaPicutred: Stephanie Ricca

Our Hotel Management team recently met to do some strategic planning. Just like how you plan out purchasing, marketing, training and renovations, we plan out content coverage, special projects, events and more. When I go into these strategic planning sessions, my role is always to represent our readers. So if your ears were burning a couple of weeks ago, now you know why—I was talking about you. And trust me: It was (mostly) all good things, and I’m not just saying that.

When I present information to the Hotel Management team about our readers, much of what I talk about is based on data. I’m a data geek at heart because before I became a journalist, I was a scientist (yeah, that’ll be a topic for another time). We use all sorts of data around here: There’s audience circulation data, marketing data, online readership data—the list goes on and on. What I’m most involved with though is tracking reader trends. I do that through our survey data, but also through less-formal methods.

For example, take a look at our Top Design Firms survey in this issue on page 30. Based on the results of this survey over the past three years, I can tell that interior design activity in the midscale segments is growing. Sure, designers are active in luxury and upper-upscale, but it’s always been that way. Our survey data show year-over-year growth in that midscale segment. That fact dovetails with what we know about midscale development and transaction activity (hey, if more midscale hotels are changing hands, they need design work, don’t they?), changing brand standards and even changing consumer trends.

Speaking of development and investment trends, we also know that people on that side of the business have design and renovation issues on their radar more and more, too. Owners and third-party managers tell us they’re getting more involved in the design side of the business because things like product-improvement plans and brand standards factor heavily into transactions. Then we add in the fact that so many of our readers (again, not just designers) are searching design- and renovation-related terms on our website, and we come to the conclusion that design information is highly valuable. And hey, we can deliver!

Now how about an example of less-formal data? Look no further than our own Sales Clinic columnist Howard Feiertag. His column covers the basics of good, solid sales training. His tips appeal to industry newbies and serve as great reminders to sales veterans as well. And month in and month out, Howard’s column generates the most reader mail of any content in the magazines or online. That’s anecdotal data, but it’s so valuable to us here at Hotel Management because it tells us not only that you love Howard, but also that you and your teams need what Howard provides. That’s publishing gold, and we know it because of data.

While I love hard data, I enjoy anecdotal data—that’s when you tell us what you like and don’t like about our coverage, what you wish we did more (or less) of, what trends you think we might be missing. The door is always open. Shoot me an email, call me, stop me at a conference. I love to talk, in case you couldn’t tell that already.

So enjoy this issue, and as you scan the pages know that all of the data about your reader behavior is being transmitted directly to my computer via that chip I had implanted in your eyeball. Stay tuned for those survey results!