‘Every Decision We Make Is A Data-Driven Decision’

Blake Stockslager, CIO at Twiddy & Co., on how the hospitality company is using information to drive growth—and jump into new technologies.

Twiddy & Co., a vacation rental business in Duck, North Carolina, serving the state’s Outer Banks, is using new technologies to analyze information on its guest rentals and more. The results? “We’re able to better run the company and make better-informed decisions for our teams, guests and homeowners,” says Blake Stockslager, CIO.

Stockslager spoke with StrategicCIO360 about how he and his IT team are using guest rental information, how they’re implementing AI and what to look for in a data platform.

What has been the impact of implementing data solutions to analyze your guest rental data?

We receive a plethora of data from the tens of thousands of guests who stay in our more than 1,000 homes each year. Every decision we make is a data-driven decision. We’ve been able to use that data to inform pricing strategies for our homeowners, analyzing current rates to reflect real-time demand.

We also share additional data with our homeowners through our proprietary portal, mapping out historical data on how their homes have performed in past years. As such, they can immediately see how they are pacing revenue-wise as compared to previous years. Thanks to good data, we’re able to better run the company and make better-informed decisions for our teams, guests and homeowners.

Having the benefit of a lot of usable data also unlocks the possibilities of using machine learning and AI tools on your datasets, making the output much more relevant and highly scalable.

Can you describe how companies outside of tech, like Twiddy & Co., approach AI and how you’re looking at investing in AI initiatives?

We’ve partnered with Google and its cloud solutions to better analyze visitor data. For example, we can use AI to identify users who initiated a vacation booking but didn’t finish it, and we can have that automatically sent to our guest services team to follow up with those guests.

We’ve also worked with Aidaptive’s AI and machine learning platform to identify the likely highest-value guests, the top three properties that fit each guest’s profile and individualized pricing that had the highest likelihood of resulting in a reservation. All those combined helped us increase conversions and revenue while allowing our team to focus on what we do best: delivering Southern hospitality.

What advice do you have for CIOs interested in investing in AI solutions for their companies?

Have well-defined goals and metrics of success stated before diving into an AI initiative. This will drive how the models are trained and get better over time.  Also, include and empower your teams to use the output of AI on your datasets to supercharge their analysis.

How can CIOs successfully implement data solutions so companies don’t have to manually analyze data? What do you look for in a data platform?

Before starting, data cleanup efforts need to be looked at. Follow a “garbage in/garbage out” mantra. The quality of the data solution’s output is largely determined by the quality of relevant data entered in.

Standardize your data formats and cleanly label tables and fields. We look for platforms that can handle analysis from a wide range of inputs to get the full picture.

Some of the tasks needed to deliver on our promise of delivering Southern hospitality would take weeks or months to go through all that data. A machine can do it in seconds, allowing our teams the opportunity to do what we do best—have positive interactions with our homeowner partners and guests.

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