Hotel Revenue Management: Balancing People and Processes

By Mark Ricketts President & Chief Operating Officer, McNeill Hotels | October 08, 2017

While there are many service industries, hospitality is certainly one of the most complex. The closest comparison may be a cruise ship, or, to a certain extent, air travel. But for something firmly rooted at all times to the ground, we'll take bragging rights.

We are providing an extremely intimate service, lodging, within the confines of what is nothing more ambitious than running a small city. The modern hotel comprises housing; utilities and other infrastructure; security; an employment force; a commons, i.e. lobby; and, oftentimes, food, beverage and recreation. We bring together under one roof people from all walks of life, with varying needs, expectations and personalities, everyone from a business executive stressed over tomorrow's important meeting to a senior couple celebrating their 50th anniversary.

The analytical side of the hospitality business is also extremely complex. At the heart of the income side of operations is deciding at what price to offer a room (of which we have a fixed number) and the allocation of them, which rooms and for how long.

It's no easy chore. There are so many factors over which operators have no real control. These include everything from weather events, flight cancellations, or changes in plans by prospective guests to expansions and contractions of supply in certain markets or the pricing strategies of competitors.

Perhaps, one of the newer twists for us is the complexity of assessing and interacting with not just our competitors, but, also, our guests. In today's digital age, with the Internet and social media, smart apps and OTAs, there really is a three-way conversation going on between our property, which includes our brand partners; our competitors and our guests.

Certainly, the cost of acquiring reservations is an ongoing industry concern. Additionally, the power that consumers seem to wield at times can be challenging or disconcerting. In particular, the plethora of access points for consumers to make a reservation and the freedom with which they can post reviews or social media comments on the Internet can make us feel less in control.

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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.