How geo-location technology can drive hotel development and transactions 

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is an emerging and constantly evolving technology that captures, stores, manages, displays, analyzes and visualizes all types of data for geographic positions on Earth’s surface by integrating location intelligence (where things are), with all types of descriptive information (what things are like there).  

For those looking to acquire or build a hotel, it’s invaluable data—if mined correctly. Because in hospitality, location, location, location is what ultimately matters.  

GIS provides a foundation for mapping and spatial analysis to assist with understanding patterns, relationships and geographic context. GIS is utilized to identify specific developmental sites based on a set of criteria using economic, social, environmental and business-related data. Analyses from GIS can be used as a real estate SWOT analysis to determine threats and opportunities for investment and/or development opportunities.

Dan Lesser, president & CEO, LW Hospitality Advisors

Analyzing and mapping geospatial data can provide insights into what may not be obvious by looking at a database or spreadsheet. The result of the analysis can be derivative information, interpolated information or prioritized information. Data layers are analyzed to answer different spatial questions and GIS maps are then produced that visualize the analyzed GIS data. 


Businesses play a vital role, from leading innovation to driving commerce and creating jobs that contribute long-term value within organizations and across communities. Location affects every business decision, and location intelligence informs these decisions with answers to key questions including, where are: 

  • markets shifting?  
  • the best customers?  
  • operations at risk?  
  • products and services delivered?  

GIS is used in most disciplines that depend on precise and accurate location intelligence for competitive insights about markets and locations. Retailers, for instance, have used mapping and location analytics to identify where to grow their business, to understand customer behavior and to visualize and manage assets such as inventory and supply-chain networks. Manufacturers use GIS spatial business intelligence technology to efficiently operate, deliver on service promises and engage customers and influencers.  

GIS can be a boon for hospitality development and acquisition. Real-estate market participants use GIS to research markets, identify new opportunities for growth and expansion and manage their investments at the market and neighborhood levels.  

But there are challenges with GIS related to the lodging sector. Most demographic data used in current GIS applications is based on the local resident population, not inbound travelers, which typically make up the bulk of lodging demand.  


New technology, however, is figuring out how to make better sense of GIS for the lodging segment. Consider Lodging Analytics Research and Consulting (LARC), which is incorporating data relevant to the lodging sector into a new GIS tool that allows for site evaluations, competitor location analysis, demand generator analysis and site comparison based on both geography and demographics.  

Data incorporated into LARC GIS, which can drill down to a city block and includes current data and five-year forecasting, includes: 

  • Economic Activity  
  • Office Employment  
  • Retail Sales  
  • Meeting Space  
  • Demand Generator Locations 
  • In Place Hotel Supply  
  • New Hotels Under Construction  
  • Convention Center Activity 
  • Leisure Demand 
  • RevPAR 

Hotels are sensitive to location; consequentially, the ability to measure the impact of location is critical. As GIS is all about location and geographic information, it is the fundamental next step in the evolution of data-driven hotel business decision-making. Location matters more than ever and GIS gives lodging sector participants (lenders, equity investors, developers, intermediaries/brokers, hotel operators) the information they need to make informed judgements. 

Daniel Lesser is president and CEO of LW Hospitality Advisors and a featured contributor to HOTELS.