Revenue Strategies for Boutique Hotels

By Robert Rauch Chief Executive Officer, RAR Hospitality | October 02, 2016

The market is poised for boutique hotels to make an impact on the hotel industry like they never have before. With an expected soft landing of the economy in 2017 (2-3 percent RevPAR growth max) it is more important than ever for independent hotels to ensure that they have proper revenue strategies in place. Competing with the big brands for market share can sound like a herculean struggle but with execution of the proper procedures, a boutique hotel can stand apart from the crowd.

Revenue Generation

Understanding where your business comes from is the first step of proper revenue management. Millennials now make up the largest share of traveler demographics and are the biggest factor as to why independents will be performing better than in previous years. They remain neutral regarding their opinions on branded hotels and they prefer seeking out an experience rather than staying loyal to any one particular chain. Think urban renewals and adaptive reuse of space; these factors are highly attractive to a millennial traveler because they embody elements of the surrounding area and create a unique experience. Remember that technology plays an important role in their day-to-day lives so ensure your Wi-Fi systems have enough bandwidth to meet their demands. This technology is not only required in each guestroom but also in any large social gathering area that promotes a work/play environment.

With an established buyer persona, we can now look at your ideal revenue mix. Direct bookings are by far the most cost effective business for boutique hotels so it is always the goal to drive business to our own booking channels. Identifying what percent of business you need from group sales, Global Distribution Systems (GDS) and Online Travel Agents (OTAs) is important to a successful revenue strategy. Understanding the cost of all of your booking channels allows for you to properly layer in business by evaluating the effective average daily rate (ADR) and adjusting your available rates accordingly. Set occupancy thresholds for your hotel as key indicators of when to increase your rates. The further out a guest books, the better deal they should obtain in most cases. The worst thing you can do is to train your guests to book last minute by reducing rates or making last minute deals available.

A savvy sales team can make or break your independent hotel. Group business generally books well in advance and provides the ideal base business for a hotel. Without the power of a brand sales team and the tools that they provide, your independent hotelís sales efforts need to ensure that they are utilizing the right channels to be effective. While GDS business is mostly pay-to-play, it provides exceptional return on investment (ROI) in the right markets. Responding to requests for proposals (RFPs) from these national accounts can be tedious but it is an essential piece to your revenue puzzle. Local negotiated rates (LNRs) are equally important for your sales team to seek out. These accounts are special rates set up with local businesses that have travel needs in the area. They are entirely driven by the relationships your team develops with the travel manager of the company and the service your operations team provides to these business travelers. Right now is the time to ensure these relationships are tapped for 2017.

Group revenue management is much more complex than transient revenue management. Balancing meeting rooms and sleeping rooms has always been tough for revenue managers who have not been on the group sales side of the business and salespeople not familiar with RFPs must equip themselves with new tools. Identify your hotelís ideal rooms to space ratio to maximize profits on any piece of group business and to ensure your revenue manager and sales team are on the same page.

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Coming up in March 2018...

Human Resources: Value Creation

Businesses must evolve to stay competitive and this is also true of employment positions within those organizations. In the hotel industry, for example, the role that HR professionals perform continues to broaden and expand. Today, they are generally responsible for five key areas - government compliance; payroll and benefits; employee acquisition and retention; training and development; and organizational structure and culture. In this enlarged capacity, HR professionals are no longer seen as part of an administrative cost center, but rather as a member of the leadership team that creates strategic value within their organization. HR professionals help to define company policies and plans; enact and enforce systems of accountability; and utilize definable metrics to measure and justify outcomes. Of course, there are always new issues for HR professionals to address. Though seemingly safe for the moment, will the Affordable Care Act ultimately be repealed and replaced and, if so, what will the ramifications be? There are issues pertaining to Millennials in the workforce and women in leadership roles, as well as determining the appropriate use of social media within the organization. There are new onboarding processes and e-learning training platforms to evaluate, in addition to keeping abreast of political issues like the minimum wage hike movement, or the re-evaluation of overtime rules. Finally, there are genuine immigration and deportation issues that affect HR professionals, especially if they are located in Dreamer Cities, or employ a workforce that could be adversely impacted by federal government policies. The March Hotel Business Review will take a look at some of the issues, strategies and techniques that HR professionals are employing to create and sustain value in their organization.