Designing the future of forecasting: A conversation with FLYR for Hospitality’s forecasting experts
|Maria Garbea||Matilde Adan|
|Product Manager||Product Designer|
In the face of constant changes in the hospitality landscape, forecasting stands as a compass directing businesses towards success. Forecasting has historically relied on market trends as well as personal intuition, which has been used to weight each data source, often without testing or validation. Today, AI can combine those elements more effectively to produce more accurate forecasts. The synergy of human experience and AI’s precision promises a future where predictions are not just educated guesses, but actionable insights based on the most up-to-date and complete data available. AI-assisted forecasting is not merely an upgrade; it’s set to be a game-changer, transforming the way the hospitality industry navigates its future.
To make this transition easier, FLYR for Hospitality has added a new forecasting feature to its revenue planning offering that can revolutionize the way you create, manage, and share monthly forecasts with your stakeholders.
We caught up with FLYR’s Maria Garbea, product manager and a former hospitality revenue manager (RM), and Matilde Adan, product designer. Their inside perspective sheds light on how this new solution will benefit everyone in the organization from revenue managers to general managers, and beyond.
Laying the groundwork
As product manager, Maria focuses on understanding business trends, identifying gaps in the market, and pinpointing user problems. “We do a deep-dive with our users into their daily tasks,” she says. “We ask what they are struggling with, and what they are trying to achieve. Based on that information, we design solutions that make our users more efficient & effective.
“Obviously, the company has a vision for where we want to be and where we see the industry going,” she adds, “but feedback is crucial for us. And not only feedback from existing customers, but from our internal colleagues, industry experts, and even from potential customers. To gather this feedback, we spend a lot of time with users directly, often in person. We observe what works and what doesn’t as they solve problems. Additionally, we often attend industry events to explore recent trends and facilitate discussions.”
Says Mati: “Once we understand the problem, my job is to determine how we can design a solution that works best for our users. We test the design and iterate on it until it is refined. Not only should it be easily usable, but it should help our users to do things in a more efficient way.
“I try to adopt our customers’ point of view, and design everything based on that point of view,” she continues. “The product has to make lives easier – and perhaps make their day more fun.”
The challenges for forecasters
Mati describes customer challenges that have shaped FLYR for Hospitality’s forecasting capabilities. “Our customers struggled with time to get the job done effectively. We had to design a product that helped them with this challenge.”
“The biggest problem was that they did not have all of their data in a single place,” Maria adds. “Previously, customers had to export data sets from multiple sources into Excel spreadsheets. Then they would have to comb through previous forecast versions and recent trends in the data before compiling a new forecast version to share with stakeholders.”
Additionally, revenue managers and others responsible for forecasting were facing these challenges:
- Multiple revenue streams that were difficult to track in advance
- The need to collaborate with multiple departments, having to align different goals, and coordinating efforts
- Getting to the expected forecast granularity in the allotted time
“Based on industry standards, the accepted error or deviation an RM’s forecast can have against actuals is about 5%,” says Mati. “Considering the few resources they count on to create it and the recent uncertainty in the hospitality industry, it’s incredible RMs can work within those margins.”
Disrupting conventional methods
The most reliable forecasting results require a new approach. Instead of the traditional end-of-month forecasting, FLYR’s experts expect forecasting to evolve to a more continuous activity.
“Our solution aims to produce the most accurate forecast,” says Mati. “but it’s essential for RMs to control the narrative of forecasts and what gets distributed. The RM will know when they want to purely follow the data versus when they want to enrich the system forecast with information that is only available to them, such as expected changes in demand or strategic initiatives they want to set. Empowering the RM with AI-driven data, which is validated by backtesting, will lead to the most accurate forecasts.”
“We want to make it easy for our customers to take their base forecast and feel confident in committing to that, whether on a monthly or weekly basis,” adds Maria. “We’re transforming what used to be a very manual process.”
A glimpse into the future
The product continues to evolve as customer needs change. Maria notes the possibility of holding multiple versions of a forecast. “Our users want this feature so they can compare and then lock it in as their final forecast, which would not be able to be changed so that it can be used for accuracy tracking.
“We’re also looking at enabling clients to visually customize their forecast views,” she adds. “Different users have different needs depending on their properties and how they like to read data. They want to be able to choose the metrics they see and also the order in which they see them to make forecasting as easy as it needs to be.”
What’s the secret sauce behind FLYR’s success? Its team and culture.
“We have a lot of freedom to create,” says Mati. “We can base the work that we do mainly on customer feedback. Seeing people happily using the product and getting value from it makes my work very gratifying.”
She also notes her appreciation of FLYR’s culture, enabling her to work from both Spain and Sicily recently. And she calls out the company’s Advisory department.
“All of our Customer Success people are former revenue managers in the industry,” she says. “For me, they are a source of truth along with our customers. If they don’t have the answer, they will point me in the right direction. That’s one of the reasons I like working here: we have the resources to get things done.”
Maria cites the company’s organization. “Our teams have the power to make decisions. It’s not a top-down approach, so you feel empowered, and also accountable for the company’s success.
“I also like the fact that we work closely with our customers to determine our direction,” she continues. “We listen, we build, and we iterate based on feedback. We deliver solutions that add value, and we pay attention to what’s happening in the industry so that they will continue to add value in the future. It’s vital that we not only enable our clients to predict market movement through forecasting, but that we do the same in order to anticipate future needs.”
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