Whether it’s one hotel or an entire portfolio, there are certain revenue management tasks that are simply too repetitive and add little value for the time they take. Think about manually gathering data in an Excel spreadsheet for pricing decisions or manually keystroking rate recommendations into the Property Management System (PMS).
To alleviate these issues and focus more time on building strategies to drive revenue, Revenue Managers are adopting a “manage by exception” strategy. Manage by exception means asking software to automate the daily, repetitive tasks, allowing revenue managers to focus on identifying and building strategies for their highest demand days. With an accurate demand forecast, hotels are more easily able to identify compressed nights far into the future - 365 days and beyond - giving them more time to enact optimal pricing, marketing and distribution strategies.
“When you think of revenue management and crunching numbers, I always thought it was this one guy or gal who's in a room who's just looking down at a computer just stressing out. And that’s not the case anymore. Instead of just sitting there crunching numbers and pulling reports, I'm allowed more time to just think creatively. I have a very balanced work-life,” explains Nathan Gray, Regional Director of Revenue Management, Coast Hotels.
This blog is adapted from our whitepaper Revenue Made Simple. Download your free copy today.
Assembling data is a great example of how hoteliers can simplify their processes. For decades, revenue managers have been running reports in their PMS and assembling them within Excel using macros. Today, custom report builders compile more real-time information and are saving revenue managers hours each day.
Automating for Average Tuesdays
Many revenue managers are also manually pushing rates to their PMS. In an old Best Available Rate (BAR) system where one rate is pushed and each segment rate is a derivative of BAR, this might not be so complicated. But with today’s complex pricing strategies where each segment and room type is yielded independently for each day as far out as a year into the future, automating these price pushes saves an immense amount of man hours.
Let’s face it: in certain parts of the year, a Tuesday night at your hotel is likely to look very similar to the past Tuesday. Ditto for the following Tuesday. Revenue managers should not have to focus on these days. Instead, they should rely on technology to free up their time to focus on the things that are most critically important and areas where they may have market information or experience that their software does not.
“We identify those periods outside that are exceptional by looking at forecasts and where we see changes in patterns or segmentation, and from there we dive in deeper to understand what is causing these changes. If we're pacing ahead or behind, do we understand why?” says Christine Jackson, Demand Team, citizenM Hotels.
Trusting the Technology
Of course, managing by exception requires building trust between human and technology. Once it’s determined that a system’s demand forecast and pricing recommendations are trusted and accurate, only then can they be automated.
“I used to spend more time in the pace report, but now I let the system do it. We used to rely on somebody to manually catch compressed days or where there's concern on selling out too quickly. Now we have all that extra free time back, which allows us to focus on our conversions and on our marketing strategy. It lets us focus on how we're talking to the guests, whether it's pre-stay emails or any other communication point,” says Jesse Sturges, Director of Strategic Marketing, Mohegan Sun.
Managing a revenue management system by exception means the software will help hoteliers and revenue teams identify those days where they should be spending more time -- where human judgment is required. This allows the team to alter any outstanding digital marketing campaigns, change the marketing strategy overall and interface with the general manager and sales organization to make sure they understand the vision for capitalizing on these high-demand days. When other key stakeholders - like management companies, asset managers or brands - are monitoring a pricing strategy, they need to be made aware that the revenue manager might run a slightly lower occupancy later into the booking window because he or she is confident that demand is going to be really strong at the end, for example.
Having patience to not sell out too early, and let your competitors fill up faster than you, is a human conversation that needs to happen and can’t be communicated purely by a system. As it becomes more and more crucial for a revenue team to communicate across the entire hospitality organization and ensure alignment on strategy, managing by exception will free up time for those conversations.