Forecasting Tops the Agenda at ITH Innovation Summit

November 15, 2021 | Claire Middleton, Contributing Editor

Duetto was recently involved in a lively panel discussion at the ITH Innovation Summit held at the NH Collection Madrid Eurobuilding. 

The session was entitled 'Forecast, the obsession of revenue management’ and involved the following panelists: 

  • Javier Jiménez, Founder of FORST School of Tourism Business 
  • Juan Manuel Merino Ruiz, Head of Revenue Management Area at Paradores 
  • José María Gutiérrez, Corporate Revenue Strategy Director at Meliá Hotels International 
  • Alessio di Gaetano, Director of Revenue Performance at NH Hotel Group
  • Cristina Blaj, Director of Sales for EMEA at Duetto 

The discussion highlighted some positive points regarding the recovery of the hospitality industry following the COVID-19 pandemic, with Merino Ruiz giving a rundown of the figures Paradores has been witnessing and stating that the upcoming festive months will have a good impact. 

He said: “We believe that the holiday season is going to have a very good performance. In fact, at least in our chain, it has done well throughout the summer, marking historical data for the volume of revenue generated by the company.”

“I do believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and we are beginning to see it,” he added. 

Leisure Sector Stays Ahead

According to Ruiz at Paradores different markets are recovering at different paces, with corporate travel expected to be slower at rebounding than the leisure sector. 

He said: “The OCD estimates that approximately 20% of the volume of travel tourism linked to meetings and conventions is going to be difficult to recover.

“That is the figure for 2019, 20% of the total volume of travelers move through the business, and in Spain in particular, bring about €20 billion a year.

“Of these, 30% is meetings and events and 70% is business travel. There I do believe that there will be a much slower recovery than in the leisure area.”

Duetto’s Blaj joined the discussion by acknowledging the global recovery and stating the importance of pent-up demand on forecasting. 

She referred to Duetto’s Pulse Report and how it helps hoteliers to see what’s going on in terms of web traffic, bookings and demand. She commented: “Pent-up demand is the desire to travel. We haven't been able to travel in the last 18 months or more, and that carries over into searches.”

“Pent-up demand is a pretty important benchmark signal right now to be able to plan for the future,” Blaj added. “Having visibility, especially right now, is vital. One of the most important parts is to rethink the whole segmentation thing and see where we need to go. Having that plan at Christmas is very important.”

Adapting Strategy

The discussion also looked at how the panelists’ hotels adapted their strategies to get through the pandemic.   

“We had to reinvent ourselves,” di Gaetano said. “It's been a super tough time, but it's been a time to create new tools, new data to see where we had to open the hotels, to understand which, when, and why.”

He added: “Another point that has helped us a lot as a company has been to change the forecasting strategy. We no longer make forecasts, we create scenarios. We create a pessimistic one, an optimistic one, and a medium one. It helped us to adjust the strategy with the change of restrictions and the fact that not all destinations are the same, not all are at the same pace.”

Gutiérrez added: “I think we have learned a bit from the 2008 crisis, but unlike 2008, we have been able to hold prices much better and not get into that war that destroyed us all for years.

“It's taken us a long time to recover those pricing levels, now, being perhaps tougher than the 2008 crisis or the 9-11 attacks. I think that's something that we have learned as well as taking care of our inventory, maybe more premium and focusing on superior rooms.”

The discussion also covered other issues including the importance of having the right tech to support total revenue, and what significant business opportunities the panelists visualized over the next few months. Answers to the latter point included retained demand, upselling, and focusing more on what customers really want. 

The session finished with each panelist giving one piece of advice to medium and small hoteliers. 

Blaj said: “The most important thing is having conversations with our technology partners and starting to align to integrate. 

“Without that, we're not going to have any data, we're not going to have any uncertainty-proof strategy, but if we start here, we fluidize access to data, we can start to plan how we're going to navigate through the whole situation and have access to forward-looking data.

‘’Let this data be part of our day-to-day culture, instead of us buying data from 10 different suppliers, and let it sit there creating information-paralysis. We need to be able to use the data every day and integrate it into our processes. We need to start with this basic step and, from there, we can achieve very good things.”

Discover revenue strategy top tips from industry leaders from CBRE, ProfitSword, EY, Accenture, and more, in our latest Special Report, Strategy Before Forecast: Open Up Your Revenue. Download today: https://www.duettocloud.com/special-reports/strategy-before-forecast

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