Matthias Heel started his career in hospitality as a management trainee with Marriott International in London. There, he soon developed an affinity for revenue management – enjoying the challenge of flexing prices to achieve immediate results.
From London, Matthias moved back to Germany to take up posts in revenue management with Pentahotels, 25hours Hotels and Victor’s Residenz-Hotels – where he had his first interaction with Duetto.
Now, he leads the revenue function for an innovative, up-and-coming hotel brand – Ruby Hotels, based at their head office in Munich.
We caught up with Matthias to find out more about the freedoms of working for a new brand, driving more direct business and preparing for new hotel openings.
Q: How did you get into revenue management?
Heel: I started as a trainee at a big London property, where I did several roles. From the beginning I thought that revenue management was really interesting and that it really had a big impact on the overall success of a hotel. From that point on I really tried to shape my career around that discipline.
One really good aspect about revenue management is that you see immediately the impact of your work. We call it pickup. You can really see immediately if you've done a good job or a bad job.
Q: What are the benefits or freedoms that come with working for a new brand?
Heel: We are actually quite brave. And the thing is, we don't need to be not brave, because we have really brilliant hotels, so we try to drive our rates when we see that competitors also drive rates. And we will work to be even more brave.
We're still working on developing some core segments. You have to be very much aware of your pricing. Duetto has help me to establish strategies and to help me make my goals.
Q: What are you doing to drive more direct business?
Heel: At the beginning you really are reliant on that OTA business. But we see that over the months and years the hotels get more direct business. We are getting better at converting direct business. But this takes time. It's still a very tricky thing, because the OTAs are very powerful.
Our marketing team is very strong and they're doing a lot of work. We’re going to put more effort in really pushing our own channel in 2019.
Q: Tell us a bit more about your revenue team.
Heel: We actually have no one in the hotels. In the head office we are two covering six hotels, and we also take care of distribution. That's quite a bit of work! But again, Duetto really helps us and, moving forward, we are looking into other core systems which could be integrated to Duetto.
Q: Ruby currently operates across five destinations in Europe. How do the various markets differ from a revenue and distribution point of view? And how do you have to adapt your strategies?
Heel: Vienna and Hamburg are very identical – they are leisure markets. Maybe they're not coming from the same places on Earth, but they're coming for leisure, so you have these long weekends. It's very comparable. But then you have Munich and Dusseldorf, which are different. It's not only like if they are leisure or not but also if they're corporate or non-corporate markets. That influences the way you revenue manage these markets.
Then, from a distribution point of view, for example, Dusseldorf has a very strong Japanese market. So ideally, you would set up channels which are attracting this market. You have to have a close look into every one of these markets, how they work, and what you have to do to get your share.
Q: You're opening in London later this year. What will you do to prepare for the revenue strategy for that hotel?
Heel: We're looking to the corporate market, what's going on. We are going to establish a set of competitor hotels that we look into. And we are going to establish the main channels. So that's the homework that we will do.
Q: What does the future hold for Ruby?
Heel: We want to really strengthen the brand, Ruby Hotels, because it's going to grow a lot more over the next few years. I'm very excited, but I'm also a relaxed person, so we're doing things step by step.