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How Technology Helps Independent Hotels to Compete

At the start of 2022, Duetto  polled the global hotel industry to find out what were the top priorities for hotel industry leaders as they headed into the year. For most, investment in technology was a big focus for the near future, with 78% of hoteliers planning to increase their investment in hotel tech in the next three years.

Digital transformation in hospitality is a trend we have seen play out over recent years, especially among independent hotels and small owner/operator groups. Investing in digitization gives these companies the ability and the agility to compete with large-scale hotel brands in the digital marketplace, helping them drive share of market. It also helps drive efficiencies on-property and, for small groups, at a head office level. This boosts profitability.

This blog is an extract from our latest eBook: Revenue Strategy For Independent Hotels: How Technology Helps You Compete. Download your free copy today:

In the face of staffing challenges and shifting consumer expectations, more independent hotels and small owner/operator groups are prioritizing digital transformation.

But rather than making digital transformation a moment in time, the most innovative hotels are taking a more iterative, digital-first approach. The aim is to create an ‘always-on’ digital strategy that enables hotel teams to work at their very best, enabling their properties to attain high levels of market share and drive team efficiencies.

This has required a complete tech stack overhaul for some, such as ASH Hotels. The company adopted a new revenue management system (RMS) with Duetto in 2020, followed by a new booking engine and GDS.

Mapping Out A Tech Stack

Nick Knight, National Director of Revenue and Distribution,  ASH, was charged with overseeing this project. As he explains, the first thing was to identify what tech was already in place, then map out the long-term goals, before deciding on what tech stack was needed to achieve those goals.

“I recognized early on that revenue management was the biggest opportunity. Most of our hotels don’t have meeting space and have a room count of around 100. Occupancy has never been an issue; it’s about exceeding our fair share of rate,” explained Knight.

Knight started to look at his tech stack with a revenue mindset and he started questioning what was needed.

“We didn't have revenue management software at all. So, implementing that [was critical]. I started doing the research and Duetto came up as being the new leader and that seemed to make sense. We jumped in, and I've no regrets so far,” Knight remarked.

For others, it has been more about fine-tuning their digital strategy. But whether investing in new tech or fine-tuning, those hotels that have taken the initiative to improve their technology offering have been reaping the rewards.

Helios Hotels in Spain started its digital transformation in 2018 with the implementation of Duetto. Since then, the company has swapped out its PMS for Sihot and added SiteMinder as its channel manager. Kris Vanaerschot, Chief Commercial Officer at Helios, explained how the three systems integrate and work together.

“The three systems integrate to optimize our business. Sihot receives the pick up and the reservations made from SiteMinder. Sihot sends the pick up and occupancy data to Duetto every hour. The Duetto algorithm then optimizes our rates and sends rate changes to SiteMinder, which then sends the reservations to Sihot. It is a circle,” Vanaerschot explained.

“We are now maximizing every opportunity and we can react to market changes quickly.

We have had a very successful summer 2022 and the tech has certainly been key to maximizing the demand and transforming that into revenue,” Vanaerschot said.

Controlled Automation

In today’s uncertain market conditions, where challenges in both market demand and talent acquisition abound, hotels are looking for revenue management solutions that enable them to react to the market and drive efficiencies. For many, a combination of automation and skilled manual intervention has been the answer.

Many hotels are realizing that it may not be realistic, or even desirable, to completely automate every single aspect of their revenue management strategy - as they still desire a human touch.

Their revenue managers are highly experienced and may see nuances within their market that even the most advanced algorithm may not. But standing still is not an option either.

The key is to get started with strategies that involve controlled automation, where specific elements and aspects of the revenue management strategy that may be easily automated are placed on autopilot, while others may be set or overridden with ease.

Controlled automation enables revenue teams to get granular with their revenue strategy concerning what they automate. For example, a hotel may decide to automate pricing on everything booked 90 days or more from stay date, enabling the team to focus solely on the short-term demand.

In today’s highly volatile market, where hotel teams can no longer rely solely on historical data, this ability to flex the system according to your revenue strategy needs and to empower teams to put their revenue management art to practice where most needed, is extremely important.

In this transition, the old spreadsheet-driven processes of the past may be finally left behind. Now, one single, SaaS cloud-based system may be used for fully automated, micro-automated, and manual scenarios. Digital transformation is not a destination. It is a strategy.

“Duetto provides hotels the ability to dial in their strategy exactly and tell the system exactly how to price and control their inventory.  Especially as we look less to history and more to the current and future, the “art” that revenue managers bring to the equation is increasingly important.  Duetto is unique in its ability to not just deploy rate recommendations, but truly arm revenue managers with automation and tools to support the execution of their ever-evolving strategies,” said Austin Segal, Vice President, Curator Hotel & Resort Collection.

Customized Revenue Strategy

Duetto’s algorithm enables hotel revenue teams to customize their revenue strategy according to the unique proposition of their offering. Many independent hotels, especially those operating in the luxury segment, have multiple room types and require a segmented, room-type strategy that enables them to be more creative in their go-to-market strategy.

One such property is The Edgewater Hotel in Seattle. Part of the  Noble House Hotels & Resorts group, the 223-room, four-star property, has been a quick adopter of Duetto’s solutions. The hotel boasts numerous room types and has a complex room segmentation set up.

“Our hotels are unique; in that we have hotels within a hotel. Between midweek and weekend, we have very different guests that could be corporate or group midweek, and weekends it's leisure guests that are looking for that weekend getaway. And we have distinct view types within the hotel. So, we're always looking for the opportunity to manage these higher-end room types and suites that have gorgeous views. The question was always ‘how do we leverage that?’,” explained Rebecca Elder, Regional Director of Revenue Management, Edgewater Hotel, Noble House Hotels & Resorts.

While nearly all mainstream RMS offerings support a “full auto-pilot mode” (as does Duetto), where the system’s analytics can dynamically optimize rates, many are now requiring an additional set of controls.

“They want to be able to turn the knobs and dials to truly reflect the uniqueness of their strategy - to put their stamp on it. In this respect, systems that support progressive levels of micro-automation and sophisticated algorithms, in concert with user-driven inputs, are becoming the market's sweet spot,” said David Woolenberg, CEO, Duetto.

Cloud-based Advantages

There are many benefits to operating a cloud-based technology stack. For independent hotels and small owner/operator groups, where there is a wide spread of cross-functional responsibilities often rolled up into a single role (for example, it is not unusual for a general manager to also have revenue management responsibilities), an always-on and always accessible system enables teams to do more with less.

We have many GM users in Duetto in the independent sector. By operating revenue on a cloud-based platform such as Duetto, they can share real-time data with operations, finance, sales, and marketing to help the whole property or group work toward a common revenue goal.

What’s more, the always-on nature of the tech means that the hotel can continue to optimize rates even out of hours.

“Revenue cannot be managed 24/7, but with automation, it can be optimized 24/7. Teams can set strategy and rules to ensure the system takes over on the days, segments, or room types where less human interaction is needed or available, freeing up time to focus attention where it can be most profitable,” said Duetto’s Woolenberg.

Discover more about how Duetto works with independent hotels in our latest Special Report: Revenue Strategy For Independent Hotels: How Technology Helps You Compete. Download your free copy today:

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Sarah McCay Tams, Director of Marketing Communications

Sarah joined Duetto in 2015 as a contributing editor covering Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA). In 2017, she was promoted to Director of Content, EMEA, and in 2022 promoted to Director of Marketing Communications. An experienced B2B travel industry journalist, Sarah spent 14 years working in the Middle East, most notably as senior editor – hospitality for ITP Publishing Group in Dubai, where she headed up the editorial teams on Hotelier Middle East, Caterer Middle East and Arabian Travel News. Sarah is now based back in the UK.

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