In order for revenue teams to automate repetitive tasks to enable them to be more strategic and ‘manage by exception’ they need to first understand what system and strategy inputs are accurate and most relevant. This means ensuring you’re starting with the cleanest data, tracking the right trends and inputting key datapoints into the system.
Once a revenue team’s data inputs, strategies and rules are in place, only then can revenue managers feel comfortable enough to lean on technology to take over a function or job.
Fortunately, most of that data today can be right at a revenue manager’s fingertips. No longer are revenue managers forced to collect reports from various systems and crunch daily numbers in an Excel spreadsheet to determine market and demand trends. Tech advancements and integrations have come a long way in collecting, collating and visually presenting key metrics and trends.
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Much of this data goes into building perhaps the most critical piece of insight for a hotel: the forecast. A hotel’s forecast is incredibly important because it's used beyond revenue management, by other hotel teams such as operations, marketing and finance. While forecasts have been built for the longest time by compiling data offline in Excel, now tools are available to gather all your data sources and automate the forecasting process online. This allows revenue technology to surface additional data that's not available working in an Excel environment.
Forecasting for success
Forecasting empowers people because they have a better sense of what to expect. For hoteliers, it clarifies responsibility and priorities, thereby encouraging cooperation. A forecast gets the revenue team thinking about cause and effect, asking themselves what they can do now to improve future results or avoid an identified risk. Forecasting gets everyone on a hotel operating team involved in helping the hotel succeed.
However, it’s often a complicated process. As consumer buying behavior changes and Online Travel Agencies find more creative ways to connect with your guests, it’s becoming more difficult to predict business patterns. Often hotels have deployed too many systems to identify and gather the right data, and everyone is spending too much time budgeting.
Revenue teams need to consider:
Custom report building tools – these enable hoteliers to build a forecast for all types of different segments of their business. This gives revenue managers more visibility into the hotel’s current group pipeline, for example, as well as visibility into historical wash and conversion metrics.
New data sets - these allow hoteliers to start looking at total revenue forecasts as well, taking into account ancillaries such as per-person pricing around breakfast and other amenities.
Trusting the data
Trusting that forecasts and other reports are accurate allows Jesse Sturges, director of Strategic Marketing at Mohegan Sun Casino Resort, to focus on “finding some really diverse anomalies within the data or within the customer and begin building those relationships.”
“Before, we had to do a lot of reporting, and now we have a quick and easy way to get reports out of the system so I don't have to be at my desk to go through our reporting tools,” he says. “I can be on my phone looking at arrivals or lower occupancy or whatever the case is."
“There are always going to be situations where things don't fit the normal curve. But if you can forecast for that, it doesn't become an issue. We want to get to our best occupancy and our best revenue, but let’s also make sure that operationally we have the staffing required and can fill needs like getting rooms cleaned. If you can prove the forecast and prove the data, then the people who have concerns feel more comfortable,” Sturges explains.
Using technology to improve the process of forecasting can be considered the first step in relying on software to simplify the jobs and lives of revenue managers. With an unbiased projection of the future, based on accurate and trusted data, hotel revenue teams have become more efficient.