Resort Revenue Management: No Day at the Beach

By Paul van Meerendonk Director of Advisory Services, IDeaS Revenue Solutions | June 10, 2018

Sun-soaked days, vivacious nights, smiling faces at every turn, ninja-like service and all the drinks, eats, entertainment and adventure a heart could desire-we all crave it and will spend big bucks to make this dream a reality, if only for a fleeting moment. While the appeal of resorts and all-inclusives may be the ultimate carefree relaxation and indulgence for vacationers, the behind-the-scenes truth of managing and growing a successful resort business is anything but laid-back fun in the sun.

Cultivating asset value for resorts is all about capturing and capitalizing on the unique revenue opportunities their distinctive business models create. However, compared with standard hotel operation, where revenue management processes are well-established based on industry-wide practices, resorts are challenged by much more complicated business models and a diverse range of revenue streams.

For the resort revenue manager, this is both a blessing and a curse. The potential to enhance resort profits, and her or his own professional standing in the process, is virtually limitless, yet the pitfalls along the path to job success are plentiful. Modern revenue management technology has made heroes out of hotel revenue managers. They have been able to apply advanced analytics by using automated-forecasting and optimized-pricing software to drastically enhance their annual revenue performance, but these same success stories for resort revenue managers have been few and far between.

Resorts require a more tailored approach than the typical hotel that accounts for flexible guest rooms to accommodate families of all sizes, while pricing per person or by room, as well as managing an abundance of package offers and contracted wholesale rates, among other factors. Resort revenue managers often find themselves in a whirlwind of something they may begrudgingly refer to as "organized chaos"-smart, industrious people to be sure, but wasting inordinate amounts of time trying to maintain some semblance of order to all their convoluted reports, unwieldy spreadsheets and clunky legacy technology. And imagine the horror of the resort general manager if their revenue guru were to suddenly win the lottery and say "sayonara, sucker."

It's an unsustainable situation, and in today's technology-enhanced business climate, it's unreasonable the plight of the resort revenue manager should go on. But, in order to serve up an effective solution, the solution makers must fully understand the problem. So, let's take a closer look at some of the primary business challenges resorts face when it comes to revenue management.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.