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Executive Q&A: Top Tips For Implementing New Technology

As hospitality companies deal increasingly with a lack of human resources, many large-scale providers have centralized their revenue strategy at an enterprise level, bringing on technology to help optimize rates and automate manual tasks. This has helped drive strategy and culture, and created greater efficiencies in budgeting, forecasting, and reporting.

This enterprise function contributes to an organization's connected commercial strategy; influencing key cross-functional teams and integrating business processes and technology systems across the enterprise, all with the view of achieving commercial performance objectives across all business segments.

One of the most important measures of a commercial strategy team’s success is performance versus competitors, typically measured by RevPAR Index change. According to STR data, properties that have run on Duetto since January 2019, outperformed their competitors in calendar year 2021 by achieving an average +12% RevPAR Index gain, driven by a 10% jump in ADR Index and 2% increase in occupancy index.

In this Executive Q&A, Michael McNames, Corporate Director of Revenue, Sandman Hotel Group, and Lloyd Biddle, Director of Product Marketing, Duetto, tackle the big questions concerning enterprise-level revenue management and adopting the tech to support this, balancing the solutions provider’s point of view with that of the end-user.

For more on this topic see our latest editorial in Skift:  Digital Transformation: 5 Need-to-Know Insights for Hospitality Revenue Managers

How can big hotel brands move away from legacy solutions and learn to trust automated cloud-based solutions?

Michael McNames First, find a company to partner with that aligns with your vision, your culture, and your goals.

It's important to have a seat at the table with the partners you're going to work with in terms of their future product development. When you move to work with a partner you are relinquishing some control so it’s good to have your voice heard in terms of future product features. And to be involved in guiding and testing the technology.

It's important to have your key decision-makers coming from different demographics and backgrounds.

Be sure to fully demo the product with full integration to the accompanying systems. See the technology in action where you can. Talk to current users of the product who run a similar integration structure.

Lloyd Biddle Legacy hospitality tech solutions that were NOT born in the cloud are aging out functionally because on-premise disjointed systems do not enable hospitality companies to take commercial advantage of the benefits of the cloud: reliability in both uptime and real-time access to data, scalability across the enterprise as well as, most importantly, information security.

How can integration and automation help enterprise-level hotel brands scale without losing the human touch?

Michael McNames That was one of the concerns for some within the company, especially given that our success at Sandman has been built around the people. We were worried to lose the human touch, but Duetto came through in spades in that area. It’s a very flexible system. Depending on your needs and goals the system can adjust as required. We run AutoPilot at all our properties. At an enterprise level, we can set that baseline structure, and then the in-market teams can fine-tune that and make the adjustments needed to meet the needs of their individual properties. The flexibility that Duetto has offered us has been essential for our success and enabled us to pivot quickly to market changes over the past couple of years.

Lloyd Biddle This is where data and analytics come into play, creating a comprehensive 360-degree view of the customer by triangulating multiple data sources, and streamlining real-time data flows, to enable insights that drive commercial performance and decision-making. A data-driven platform, including accurate interpretation of results, is essential to gaining a competitive advantage and anticipating market trends.

Guest-centric revenue management is not a new concept. An example is pre-arrival upsell.

Our  latest integration with upselling platform Oaky delivers analytically-powered, highly targeted upgrade offers to guests. By using data analytics to better understand our guests’ buying preferences, we can tailor an offer that will increase their likelihood to buy and thus maximize revenue.

What are three things revenue managers can do to help ensure operational efficiencies when onboarding a new RMS?

Michael McNames First, talk to an existing user who has the same distribution setup that you're going to be utilizing. Talking to individuals who've gone through the process will help make sure you are best prepared.

Second, make sure that everybody's aware ahead of time as to some of the challenges they're going to go through.

Third, go live with one or two properties and make sure everything's optimized and working as you expect with those properties before you scale it to the company. And be sure to involve all departments in the decision-making process and during the go-live. This will help you get more support as you move forward with the process.

Lloyd Biddle First, commercial teams need to understand the importance of interfacing with the various components of the tech stack. Standing up new properties on a platform can be resource and system intensive. One unique advantage that Duetto has, is its dedicated team of system experts that streamline the deployment process to overcome challenges of brand footprint expansion to increase market distribution globally. No matter how many conversions or new builds are in the pipeline, Duetto partners with corporate staff to seamlessly initialize properties on the platform and test sell beforehand to facilitate fast ramp-up times.

Secondly, Duetto invests in corporate support staff that act as champions on behalf of the enterprise organization. Our online resource hub contains many knowledge-based articles. And we provide multiple channels to resolve questions because we know in revenue management, time is money.

The third is training. Duetto training includes interactive virtual class formats and electronic distribution of materials that prevent regional directors and on-property staff from missing days in the office, which can result in lost opportunities. The result is increased efficiency, accuracy, and revenue!

How do Duetto’s Enterprise Rate Guidelines help make revenue management teams more efficient and help protect brand identity?

Lloyd Biddle The Enterprise Rate Guideline functionality is unique to the Duetto platform. It drives more profitable business by making strategic decisions that benefit all properties system-wide. For example, hospitality owners and operators can centrally launch promotional prices and fence or streamline rate management by deploying uniform discounts for loyalty members across a portfolio.

Michael McNames It helped in rolling out a standard for the properties to operate from and creating a baseline. It’s allowed us to be very flexible in these challenging times and we have been able to pivot quickly off the back of it.

It allows us to maintain brand and rate integrity but also to control our discount levels.  During the pandemic, we slotted our properties into different groups, depending on their status. Each group had a different structure applied to it. This allowed us to efficiently update their rate strategy/distribution as conditions for each property changed as we simply changed their grouping and quickly applied a new structure. Leading a lot of this process was our Revenue Department Manager, Ms. Ling Tong. She's been the day-to-day driver of the success of Duetto. She had the vision of where we were going and how to execute it.

How does Duetto’s cloud-based RMS help enterprise-level brands stay ahead of the innovation curve?

Michael McNames With Duetto we’ve got an expert in the field. Having a seat at the table with Duetto allows us to ensure they are driving the industry forward and targeting our needs with their innovation. One of the reasons we chose Duetto was their willingness to treat us as partners and equals, respecting our feedback, and we felt they aligned very well with the type of company that we are.

If you internalize your revenue management systems and support, you're frankly going to fall behind the curve.

Want to learn more about how Duetto can help support your connected commercial strategy? Click here to book a demo.

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Sarah McCay Tams, Director of Marketing Communications.

Sarah joined Duetto in 2015 as a contributing editor covering Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA). In 2017, she was promoted to Director of Content, EMEA, and in 2022 promoted to Director of Marketing Communications. An experienced B2B travel industry journalist, Sarah spent 14 years working in the Middle East, most notably as senior editor – hospitality for ITP Publishing Group in Dubai, where she headed up the editorial teams on Hotelier Middle East, Caterer Middle East and Arabian Travel News. Sarah is now based back in the UK.

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