You’ve got to be unique and innovative to stand out in the French Quarter, whether that’s as a restaurateur, a street performer on Bourbon St. or as a hotel trying to provide a distinctive guest experience and earn repeat business.
Managing 18 hotels ranging from six to 292 rooms, some branded, some boutique and all in and around New Orleans’ famous French Quarter, the J Collection has it figured out.
We recently visited The Jung, a newly renovated upscale property a few blocks from Bourbon St., to catch up with Chris Curry, J Collection’s area director of revenue management. Curry oversees revenue for the collection of hotels that cater to everybody – from convention business during the week, including corporate negotiated accounts, to high transient demand every weekend.
A: I'm in our area office and then we have revenue managers, some who oversee two properties and others who oversee one. They're all centrally located near their properties. We have branded hotels, so we have some people in other markets, but we have a lot of boots on the ground. We also have the upper level, where we maintain strategies.
Q: Walk me through a day in the life of Chris Curry.
A: Well, it starts when I get to work at 6:30 in the morning. We go through all the dailies to see what happened. I get sell boards, or the daily details, look at rates, and make adjustments. Basically, Tuesday through Friday I'm in revenue management meetings with all the hotels. We’re looking at STAR reports; it’s the day in the life of a revenue manager, except it's for 17 to 18 hotels. It's busy, but it's also fun to see the strategies we put in place work.
Q: What are some of the most important metrics you pay attention to?
A: Brand contribution is huge for us. Nobody likes paying commissions on the rooms they're selling to other people, so keeping it on the brand website is a big piece for us. Transient rate efficiency is a big piece, too. Of course, we look at RevPAR Index, but what's nice to see is when you have high ADRs yet occupancies are staying the same. Now we can say, “Hey, look at what we were leaving on the table in years before."
Q: How important is it for the J Collection to stay innovative in the tech space?
|Watch: How Duetto is playing its part in the success of the J Collection.|
A: I think innovation is really important to the hotel industry with everything that's going on with Airbnb and short-term rentals. We have to be ahead of these guys to continue to prosper. We're always looking for cutting-edge technology and new ways to sell our hotel rooms, and to get the best rate possible for them.
We look at everything, from the one-of-a-kind enhancements that we can offer on our websites to pricing and making sure that we're ahead of the curve and we can keep the most valuable experience on our website. We’re also always trying to find ways to get an edge on the competition.
Q: How do you evaluate your tech stack and how can hotel technology improve?
A: With most of our hotels being independent, except for maybe three or four, it's really hard to get communication between a booking engine, a CRS and a PMS on a consistent basis. That communication between systems is critical—especially when you have so much data now going in between. The best way for us is to continue communication between partners and improve teamwork and synergy.
Q: Have you seen benefits from bringing your tech stack into the cloud?
A: Yes, and I’ve got to tell you, the cloud is the way to go. We know the security's there and that everything is within reach. I can be in Florida and with all my hotels I can dial in and see what's going on. The cloud makes a lot of sense. The issue comes in when you have a lot of information in the cloud and all your systems trying to communicate and share that information. We see the cloud slow down at that point and we see processors shut down—that’s our biggest concern.