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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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.