Online Brand Management: Revenue Management's Increasing Role
By Christian Koestler President & CEO, Lixto, Inc. | July 15, 2012
The value of word of mouth and personal referrals has always been "gold-standard" material in the lodging industry. This is particularly true now that the practice of checking, evaluating and analyzing guest reviews and rankings of lodging properties before making reservations is almost de rigueur for savvy consumers in today's web-centric world.
Prospective guests rely more and more on others' input, feedback and comments. The Internet-driven communications of today assure that this data moves quickly and deeply throughout a prospect's information network, and becomes a major factor in the prospect's decision- making.
In fact, hotels have fostered this phenomenon of shared information through the incorporation of online guest feedback mechanisms into their web sites and reservation systems. Suddenly, through the ratings, rankings and reviews that tightly couple to reservations systems and revenue management strategy, consumers are actively participating in the actual creation and shaping of the hotel's brand.
When consumers can significantly affect a brand in this way, through commenting and sharing their personal experiences, "brand management" becomes a broader, more encompassing function. Even five years ago, revenue and general management might have been able to afford ignoring online "chatter" about their property. Now, as prospective guests rely more and more on others' input, feedback and comments, doing so is the equivalent of ignoring a major component of revenue management. It also is ignoring a significant challenge, and opportunity, to be intricately involved in brand management.
Ten to fifteen years ago, technology was the fuel for the evolution of the revenue manager's function away from basic inventory management and toward the more strategic role it plays today. Now, an increasing role in online brand management is the next step in the evolution of the revenue management function.
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