by Robert Holland, Chief Technology Adviser to UKHospitality
I will start with an admission that in addition to my work with the BHA, now UKHospitality, I also head up HotelPartner in the UK. I was drawn to this company whilst in my previous role as Regional Operations Manager for a national hotel management company.
It takes great skill every day to sell the right product to the right customer, at the right time, at the right price through the right sales channel. It requires monitoring many components including availability, expected pick up, competitor pricing, events and market changes around the clock. This is not an easy task for hotel employees, since their areas of responsibility are often multifaceted, especially in medium sized businesses.
Successful revenue management requires a lot of experience as well as a clear mind to analyse all of the data needed to make decisions. Recruitment, retraining, renegotiating rates and reporting are just some of the duties that hotel revenue managers often have to perform in addition to their responsibility of determining rates. With your hotel selling online 24/7, what happens when they leave for the night, at the weekends and when they are on holiday? If your business is coming from Asia or the US, should you only be revenue managing Monday to Friday from 9 to 5?
Pascal Ploch, head of Yield Management at HotelPartner explains that they firstly determine each partner hotels product, market place and target group before setting a yield strategy that is delivered by the automated system whilst being overseen and fine tuned by a team of dedicated yield managers working from their offices in Hamburg and Barcelona. Their proprietary system combines revenue management data with rate shopping and channel management to ensure that the correct prices are feeding through to the right channels around the clock, encouraging direct business whenever the demand opportunity allows.
When my own Cluster Revenue Manager left after 7 years it took time and money to find her replacement. There was a gap between one leaving and the other starting in addition to the time it took for the new Revenue Manager to familiarize herself with a new business. During this time my own increased involvement made me realise first hand the detail required as well as the opportunities missed during time that I was away or having to carry out my other roles. I worked out that a revenue manager working Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, 47 weeks of the year is only yielding your bedrooms 21% of the time that they are available online. You would never expect Easyjet or Avis to operate with a manual system so why do hoteliers fear automation? I maybe a little biased but I strongly feel that an automated system that is being managed by expert users is the best way forward. It’s a little like going for a ride in an F1 car with Lewis Hamilton at the wheel!