People Power: The Surprising Secret Sauce of Profit

By Doll Rice Vice President of Revenue Optimization, Prism Hotels & Resorts | September 30, 2018

Revenue management strategies today are built largely on the relevant, impactful and extraordinarily detailed data provided by the increasingly sophisticated software and reporting that is now available. But this is only half of the picture. The successful execution of these tech-driven strategies relies on the human element to fully harness, utilize and implement the insights provided by big data and predictive analytics.

Without a talented revenue optimizer translating and applying the strategies from the data and predictive analytics, the hotel will not be as profitable. Ironically, at a time when technology and new software and systems have made-and continue to make-tremendous leaps forward, it's the human element that remains essential. Even in an age of bits, bytes and bandwidth, algorithms might do much of the heavy lifting, but it's ultimately people power that is the "secret sauce" to maximizing profits.

Technology and Traction

Yes, all of us in the revenue management space-and the hotel owners and operators who work with and count on us-want, need, and thrive on numbers, statistics, percentages, year-over-year performance trends, and accurate forecasting. Everything that revenue management software can and does provide takes some of the busy work out of human hands, saving revenue managers what once required hours of work every week crunching the numbers on equations and spreadsheets.

To be perfectly clear, this is a very good thing. General managers do not want their revenue managers spending time on busy work, and revenue management professionals are thrilled to have some of the grinding, obligatory and time-consuming background work taken off their plate. That additional time and flexibility isn't just a convenience. Because, in spite of the rapid advance of technology (and, in part, because of that growing tech horsepower) revenue managers are becoming more and more critical to the overall success and profitability of the hotel business.

Today, revenue managers can spend more time and energy doing what they were hired to do: execute profitable strategies. They are able to let the software and third-party companies provide the data and reports for themselves and their teams to utilize. In other words, virtually all of them have access to better tools that allow them to analyze, aggregate and activate: to do their jobs.

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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.