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The Biggest Challenges Facing Revenue Professionals Right Now

November 5, 2020 | David Goodman, Director of Sales

Hotels are facing very challenging times: poor data, irregular demand patterns, new government health regulations, changing business mix and distribution, and of course reduced teams and budgets.

Now more than ever the role of the Revenue Strategist should be more pivotal within the organization. In order to secure the survival of hospitality businesses over the coming months adjectives such as ‘analytical’, ‘adaptable’, ‘flexible’ and ‘profitable’ will be associated with all the decisions that need to be made by your revenue team.

In September and October I ran a series of LinkedIn posts to discover what are the biggest challenges facing revenue professionals right now. I was thrilled by the response and the best practice sharing this encouraged. Here’s a roundup of those challenges and how revenue professionals are overcoming them.

Segmentation

MICE business will not return in any sort of volume until at least 2021. RFP season has been heavily disrupted. corporate demand remains low and clients are not willing to commit to non-refundable rates.

How are revenue professionals building new segmentation? And what criteria are they following?

“Segmentation is very dynamic anyway and always needs adjustments. So yes there have been needed changes during the pandemic, and new segments emerged, but I’d say the key is for the revenue system and data structure to allow change easily. The old channel-based revenue segmentation is less relevant and moving toward more granular, customers-based one.”
-Emmanuel Lacour, Group Director of Revenue Management, edyn.

“Most of the demand in the UK presently sits under the transient domestic leisure segment, the segmentation doesn't tell us anything. What is key right now is source tracking. We should be looking at the channels we currently use to distribute to this market, adding new channels and better optimizing the ones we have. I would actively discourage hotels from changing their segmentation and instead focus them on maintaining accurate source tracking.”  
-Georgina Houghton, Consultant, Hotel Revenue Management Ltd.

Pricing

Hotels are no longer able to rely on pre-existing rate structures, but simply changing to flat pricing (non-dynamic) is not the answer.

Demand is patchy and for many, their business mix has completely changed, but it is essential to price not only for demand levels but also by segment and/or source.

How have hotels changed the way they price?

“It’s been a really difficult time for city center hotels vs coastal or rural areas. We’ve had to look at all our pricing strategies, moving to pricing rules based on actual pickup and short term trends vs leisure destinations pricing based on demand. I think the biggest driver at the moment has to be flexibility on cancellations.”
–Jemma Spencer, Head of Revenue, Corus & Laura Ashley Hotels.

Forecasting and Budgeting

Predicting the future - good luck with that!

After months building different reopening scenarios and trying to predict the next wave of bookings or cancellations we are entering the hotel budget season (at the same time as many markets are entering second wave lockdown).

The days of copying Final LY across and tweaking are well and truly over… So how are hotels approaching the budget this year? Are they budgeting at all?

“We are approaching all hotel operators we work with to find out their plans, and so far most of them are delaying the 'Budgeting season' since it's pointless to do it at this moment. Here in Spain we rely heavily on the UK and GASP markets so we are dependent on their travel restrictions, which will be changing constantly. I'd rather push the hotels to react quickly to any signs of demand, this is the only way to "optimize", and perhaps forecast for 1-3 months outlook.”
–Aida Muñoz, Director of Revenue Strategy, HIP.

Automation

Somebody said: ‘Today’s disruption will lead to a transformation’. We once thought the future of revenue management technology was full automation. After navigating COVID-19 over the past months, the industry is being forced to question this.

Everyone in the hotel organization is being asked to be more productive, to do more with less. In which case, what tasks do hoteliers think should be fully or partially automated so that Revenue professionals can focus on the most important commercial decisions?

Should full automation still be the goal?

“In general, I don’t think anything should be fully automated right now. That said, it will really be a different answer based on the hotel’s class, size and budget. For the past three months we have reverted back to manual management of our rates but with modest increases in demand we might change it again. The revenue managers I’m speaking with tell me that the only thing they are focusing on is business with up to a one week window.”
–Omri Rothschild, Area General Manager, Studios2Let.

Now may not be the time for automation, but it is also not the time to turn off your systems and go manual – who has the time and resources for that? Revenue managers need more control of their systems than an on/off black box automation. That is why Duetto introduced Controlled Automation. You stay in control of rates and strategy while benefiting from the efficiencies of controlled automation.

In these days of Revenue Survival, here at Duetto we believe your technology stack should be enabling you to be smart, agile and efficient.

  • Smart – by having access to relevant and actionable data. Duetto references more signals of demand than any other RMS, including data from your PMS, website regrets and denials, booking and reservation data, reviews, and social media comments.
  • Agile – by having flexible tools that enable you to pivot your strategy in line with real-time changes in demand.
  • Efficient – automating the tasks you don’t need to be focusing on, to free up the time to be more strategic when it counts.

Discover more about our Revenue Survival philosophy here: Revenue Survival: It’s Time To Get Smart, Agile & Efficient

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