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A Grown-Up Guide To… Data 101

What is it?

Data is the lifeblood of your business.  It’s your information, your quality, your metrics, your customers, your performance and your profit.  It’s pretty important.


Who does it affect?

Everyone who owns or manages a business.

What you should do…

We’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating: data is important.

If you own or manage a business, you need information to guide your decisions and to keep up to speed with how your company is performing.

‘Big data’ is a term that’s often used, and just as often misused.  You can read our previous blog about big data here.  You almost certainly don’t have ‘big data’ and don’t need complicated (and expensive) analytics.

What you will have is a lot of data, but you need to target and filter your data before you can analyse it and make it useful.  We think there are three important factors to consider when you are looking at your business data:



Gathering data over a period of time will help you spot patterns and trends.  A single data point lets you know what happened at a single specific point in time.  Data duration helps you understand the past and present, and to better predict the future.



What level of detail do you actually know?  Deeper data is more useful data.  Drill down to get insights into reasoning, emotional behaviour, cause and effect.  ‘What’ is easy.  ‘Why’ is a lot more powerful.



Very few things happen in isolation, there are usually contributing factors.  Collecting diverse data from a range of sources allows you to see how all your business actions link up.  It’s pretty obvious that your sales activities will contribute to your profitability but what else affects it?


Let’s look at some examples to see how this could be applied to the hospitality and event sector.


Retail catering

Most of the data will come from the EPOS system.  Look at all the metrics it records, don’t just use it to cash up at the end of the day.  It will tell you what products were purchased, when and where.  It will tell you who sold them.  If you have a loyalty scheme or residential guests, you can see who is buying what.  There’s a whole load of data depth, right there.  If your EPOS isn’t giving you this level of insight, talk to our friends at Tevalis, they would love to help you.

For data duration, look at reports over time, look at daily peaks, weekly and monthly patterns.  How do public holidays affect your customer behaviour?  If you spot a pattern, try and work out why it’s happening.  If a particular weekday afternoon is always quiet, what can you do to make it busier?

Data diversity includes your P&L, compare how your costs and revenue change compared to the volume and type of sales.  Look at external factors as well.  Does weather affect your business?  Are there special events nearby that compete with you, or that drive trade to you?


Product or service supply

Data diversity comes from a number of sources.  Your CRM system will record your customer information.  You’ll have project or account P&Ls to track your financial data.  You may also have a project management tool that records a whole range of activity data.  Consider looking at external factors as well – national and international holidays, competitor behaviour or your social media performance if it’s not captured by your CRM.

You will get a much better understanding of your client behaviour if you have data duration.  Who are repeat clients?  What’s the lifetime value of each account?  Think about individual points of contact, not just organisations.  Our industry is fluid.  If your client moves to a new company do you know where they go, do you keep the old account and does your contact bring you new business from their new employer?

Data depth comes from keeping detailed client and project records.  Who are the individual contacts at an organisation?  Do they look after specific projects, or do they always book the same products or services from you?  If they consistently order the same thing, why are they doing that?  Do they know what else you can provide?  What is their decision making process, are they looking for quality, value or a specific product that’s unique to you?


Conference or exhibition management

You’ve got two interlinked data sets, your delegates and your exhibitors.  Data depth will come from understanding why someone visits or exhibits.  What do they get out of your event?  What other events to they attend?  When do they register, via what platform, at what price point?  How many times do you have to contact them before they confirm their attendance?

For data diversity, look at exhibitor CRM records and your visitor registrations.  Try to get good debrief data from all your speakers, exhibitors, visitors and sponsors.  The more information you get the more helpful it will be, and try to ask ‘why’, not just ‘what’.  Think about external metrics as well.  What data can your event app provide?  Is it live data, or post event?  Can you measure footfall, attendance timing, can you actually measure behaviour or emotion?  Our friends at Crowd Connected have some great tools that can help.

Data duration will help you plan your next event based on what actually happened at previous events.  You can optimise your early-bird offers by looking at when people actually register.  What are your quiet and busy periods on site, and what can you do to fix the lulls or pinch points?  What booths or speakers are most popular over time, and can you use that information to improve content for your next events?  Where do people travel from, and is there an opportunity to upsell travel or accommodation packages, or to create a new local event so your customers don’t have to travel in the first place?


In summary, data is a powerful tool.  Used properly, it unlocks huge potential in any business.  Know what data you are collecting, and why you are collecting it.  Use data depth, duration and diversity to make sure you are getting the full picture and use the insights it gives you to continually improve your performance.

At Grown-Up Solutions, we are fully engaged with the data revolution and would love to help you get the most benefit from your business metrics.  If you’d like to discuss anything in more detail or need support turning data in to useful information, #talktoagrownup.


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