In this blog mini-series, we are looking at how the revenue teams for The Standard’s hotels in New York and London have navigated through the past 18 months, and what revenue tactics they have used to keep their properties competitive in their markets.
Both of The Standard’s New York City hotels closed at the end of March 2020, with The Standard, East Village NYC reopening at the end of July 2020 and The Standard, High Line NYC reopening in September 2020.
This was a huge boost for both hotels, as many of their comp sets remained closed.
“It was a great win for the properties to reopen at that time,” said Jelissa Toro, Regional Director of Revenue Management. The properties were able to get ahead of new service expectations of our guests, visibility through our third-party partners along with meta, and hiring of associates.
“It helped that we had great partnerships and relationships already established between us and our third-party suppliers, such as Duetto, and of course with our colleagues and associates. Being able to talk to other New York City hotels that remained open through the pandemic allowed us to create an effective game plan on operating through the pandemic,” she added.
[Discover how The Standard’s London hotel also fared during the past 18 months in ‘A Tale Of Two Cities: The Standard, London’.]
The decision to reopen was based on what the market could sustain and what ownership felt comfortable with from an occupancy and ADR perspective.
“There had to be a mutual understanding of, ‘Yes, we aspire to this, but this is what the market can sustain, or this is what the demand indicates as a pricing level’ whether that is by star-rating or by neighborhood. After we understood what our benchmarks were and understood the pricing in the market, we knew what we needed to achieve our goals,” Toro explained. Through tools like Duetto and effective revenue management, both New York City properties exceeded budgeted reopening targets for ADR and occupancy. In addition, both NYC properties have achieved STR results that are better than 2019.
Revenue Never Closes
Even while her properties were closed, there was plenty of planning and restructuring going on, with Toro busy interacting with guests, rescheduling trips, offering enticements such as discounts or upgrades, and then forecasting against these guest decisions.
Once The Standard, East Village NYC reopened and Toro had solid data to work with, the focus turned to understanding lead times.
“That's where tools like Duetto came in, to help us understand when travelers were booking,” Toro said. “Monitoring booking lead time and ensuring we had proper visibility on all distribution points, that our price points were attractive, and that the merchandising was effective were all vital in the success of achieving the hotel’s revenue performance.
“Even though the properties are known and recognized in the city, we had this opportunity to tap into new leisure transient guests that may not have experienced our hotels or may typically prefer to travel abroad or travel across the country, but now we had their attention,” Toro said.
To optimize the opportunities, Toro drilled deep into her revenue strategy, looking at pricing points on all distribution channels, as well as focusing on merchandising on all room types and product offerings.
“It became critical to ensure that the hotel was able to sell and market itself in a way that was comprehensive but also attractive,” she said.
With a constantly changing market dynamic, flexing pricing rules on and off quickly became vital.
“Day by day, hour by hour, and the renowned New York minute - things were changing so quickly. That's why it was critical to be able to modify and manage room types and pricing rules,” said Toro.
“We found that our guests were splurging and buying into our suites, upper room types as well as our package offerings. That allowed different price points, different merchandising, and rate efficiency on the market segment level, so everything came together.”
Business was turned on its head for The Standard Hotels in New York, which went from running high occupancies with corporates during the week to a shift of weekends being the highest demand dates. Thankfully, business travel has been returning.
“Every single corporate booking, group booking, or lead we are celebrating!” said Toro.
Now, as the hotels prepare for whatever the summer season may bring, Toro is leaning on the learnings of the past 18 months and her experience before COVID-19.
“I believe many hotels appreciated the seasoned knowledge of having revenue professionals with years of experience that are on the ground, willing to help bring everything back. You can feel the heart of hospitality during this time.
“Revenue management is like a symphony. Like a conductor leading an orchestra, everything needs to play at the right time, volume, rhythm to make a beautiful song. You need to ensure that every channel, every rate code, every market segment, is playing at the right time, at the right rhythm to keep revenue optimized. Tools like GameChanger and ScoreBoard help revenue professionals like myself create a beautiful symphony.”