Hotel Revenue Management

Sunday, March 14, 2010

2009: Another Year That Confirmed the Internet as the Only Growth Channel in Hospitality

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By Max Starkov, March 2010

The latest eTRAK Full Year 2009 report on hotel bookings by channel yet again confirms that today, the online channel is the only growth channel in hospitality. In the difficult economic environment, when travel supply outweighed travel demand by far, Internet bookings for the top 30 hotel brands increased by a remarkable 6.6% in 2009 vs. 2008 (eTRAK).

This increase in Internet bookings comes at the expense of the GDS and Voice Channels, both of which have been declining for many years now.

The growth of the Internet channel for the top 30 hotel brands is not an isolated phenomenon. HeBS reported steady increases in direct online channel bookings across its hotel client portfolio, even in a difficult year like 2009.

In dire economic times like these, characterized by sharp declines in travel demand, a comprehensive ROI-centric Internet marketing strategy can help hoteliers continue to generate much needed incremental revenues and out-smart their competition.
Here are some of HeBS’ findings based on the latest eTRAK benchmark report, surveys and industry data from PhoCusWright, ARC and our own research.

GDS Channel Is in Steady Decline:

GDS hotel bookings via the CRS of the top 30 hotel brands declined by 3.7% 2009 vs. 2008, and constitute 23.6% of total CRS bookings in 2009 vs. 27.3% in 2008 (eTRAK).
Back in 2006, GDS CRS reservations constituted 31.3% of total CRS bookings for the top 30 brands. GDS share has decreased by 24.6% from 2006 to 2009, when it was reported at the 23.6% level.
Travel Agency Share from Total Travel Market in the U.S. dropped from 41% in 2006 to 33% in 2009 (PhoCusWright).
U.S. Travel Agency Locations decreased by 7% in 2009 vs. 2008. The number of locations has been decreasing at an average rate of 4% every year since 2001, and the number of travel agencies has declined from as high as 35,000 in 1995 to less than 16,450 in September 2009 (ARC, HeBS).
The Voice Channel Contribution Is Decreasing:
Voice channel hotel bookings via the CRS of the top 30 hotel brands declined by 2.9% in 2009 vs. 2008, and now constitute 22.2% of total CRS booking in 2009 (eTRAK).
Last year’s decrease is in addition to a decline of 2.8% for the full 2008 vs. 2007 (eTRAK).
The Voice Channel is in decline for the 6th consecutive year (HeBS). Back in 2006, voice reservations constituted 31.3% of total CRS bookings for the top 30 brands. Voice Reservation share decreased to 25.1% in 2008 and 22.2% in 2009.
The Shift from Offline to Online Channel is Permanent:
54.2% of overall CRS bookings for the top 30 hotel brands come from the online channel, which is an increase of 6.6% vs. 2008 (eTRAK).
60% of leisure and 40% of business travel will be booked online in the U.S. this year (PhoCusWright).
45% of hotel bookings in 2010 will be via the Internet (direct + indirect online channels) (HeBS).
Direct vs. Indirect Online Channel: Dynamics Follow the Economy:
Typical of economic times such as the present, the hotel industry (similar to post 9/11) has again “succumbed to the devil” in the face of the major OTAs. Since mid-2008 travel supply has outweighed demand and hoteliers have been more susceptible to panic, resulting in deep discounting and embracing of the OTAs. The result is that we have witnessed a significant shift from the direct online to the indirect online channel in 2009:

In 2009, 70.9% of online bookings came from the direct online channel (i.e. the major hotel brands’ own websites), while 29.1% came from the indirect online channel (the Online Travel Agencies—OTAs) (eTRAK). This constitutes a significant increase of the contribution from the OTAs compared to 2008, when 75.2% of online bookings came from the direct online channel, while 24.8% came from the OTAs.
Compare this to 2007, when the direct channel contributed 76% of CRS Internet bookings.

Here is a summary of eTRAK’s most recent reports on hotel bookings by channel:


The Bottom Line: Focus on the Direct Online Channel

Hoteliers need a robust Direct Online Channel Strategy, accompanied by adequate marketing funds to be able to take advantage of the steady growth in the Internet channel and shift from offline to online bookings in hospitality due to declining GDS and voice channels. Hoteliers must carefully employ ROI-centric initiatives, including website redesign, website optimization and SEO, paid search, email marketing, online display advertising and proven social media initiatives.

Even in this economy, you should not decrease or eliminate your hotel Internet marketing budget. The Internet, and especially the direct online channel, is the only growth channel for hoteliers and the only “light at the end of the tunnel” in this environment. Even in these difficult times we see “Return on ad spend” (ROAS) as high as 3500% from Internet marketing campaigns we run for our clients.

Market researchers provide various projections for the growth of the online travel channel in 2010, from a small decline as reported by a travel research company, to growth rates as high as 11% in 2010 as projected by eMarketer. These optimistic projections are supported by the leading e-Commerce research company, which declares that overall U.S. online sales will increase by 9% in 2010. HeBS believes that online travel, having always been the most dynamic and fast-growing segment of the overall online marketplace, will experience similar growth rates. Whatever the case might be, the online travel channel, and especially the direct online channel, provides hoteliers with the only viable option for any growth during this recession.

About the Authors and HeBS:
Max Starkov is Chief eBusiness Strategist at Hospitality eBusiness Strategies (HeBS). HeBS is an award-winning, full-service Internet marketing and Direct Online Channel Strategy firm, strictly dedicated to the hospitality and travel verticals. Having pioneered many of the "best practices" in hotel Internet marketing and direct online distribution, HeBS specializes in helping hoteliers profit from the direct online channel and transform their websites into the hotel’s chief and most-effective distribution channel, establish interactive relationships with their customers, and significantly increase direct online bookings and ROIs. Visit us online at www.hospitalityebusiness.com

A diverse client portfolio of over 500 top tier major hotel brands, luxury and boutique hotel brands, resorts and casinos, hotel management companies, franchisees, independents, and CVBs has sought and successfully taken advantage of HeBS’ hospitality Internet marketing expertise. Contact HeBS consultants at (212)752-8186 or info@hospitalityebusiness.com.


.
Contact:
Hospitality eBusiness Strategies, Inc. (HeBS)
14 E. 60th Street, Suite 400
USA - New York, NY 10022
Phone: 212-752-8186
www.hospitalityebusiness.com
Email: info@hospitalityebusiness.com

Full original article at http://www.hotel-online.com/News/PR2010_1st/Mar10_InternetChannel.html

Friday, July 31, 2009

Using Viral Marketing Effectively to Increase Hotel Profit

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Many hotel revenue managers have the misconception that effective viral marketing online requires a huge budget. But this is not necessarily the case as tourism authority for Hamilton Island, Queensland demonstrated. Basically, their campaign is simple: hire a blogger to talk about the island. The job, “Best Job in the World” was conceptualized. All the blogger needs to do is tour around Queensland, blog about his experiences, and get paid. The results of the campaign was astonishing, aside from the 7 million visitors recorded on the site, 34,000 people submitted their video application.

A 34-year old British guy named Ben Southall got the job. Tangible results of the viral marketing campaign are already being seen. Virgin Blue is not flying direct between Hamilton Island and Sydney. In addition, large Australian firms are also looking into the area for their events and conferences. There are some parallels between this tourism strategy and the hotel revenue management. And there are a few lessons that hotel revenue managers can use to increase RevPAR and boost profitability.

The most important aspect that should be recognized in this campaign is not the fact that they were marketing, but the fact that they were using social channels to achieve this level of success. Some tips to increase hotel profits using social media remembering that it’s not about the amount of budget you set aside – a big benefit of viral marketing is that it can create a big impact on a limited budget. In short, there’s no need to pay much to get the desired result. The main thing you need to remember is to have something worthwhile to share so people will talk about it.

Also, focus on content rather than traffic. The ultimate goal of most hotel revenue managers is to increase their site traffic, and hope that this will increase hotel sales. But to encourage people to share your products and services with their friends, content is more important.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Closer Look at Hospitality Revenue Management and Internet Marketing

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There is no double that hotel revenue management and internet marketing is fast coming together. At the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) convention in Anaheim, California, the two topics were extensively discussed. People from both sides of the industry thought of ways to make the two disciplines complement each other to create demand in today’s turbulent economic times and beyond.

According to Eric Pearson, the senior VP of Brand Performance, Americas, Intercontinental Hotels Group, “revenue management and internet marketing professionals are the new rock stars of the hotel industry”. And indeed, it is easily apparent that the potential contribution they can give is significant.

The presentation he presented showed the types of benefits the hospitality industry can experience (ie. increase hotel sales, increase RevPAR, revenue optimization) if the two are used together. The strategy should be backed by concrete analysis and real time data to drive hotel profit growth even further.

Main Points of the Conference

In essence, the conference has several main points, one of which is the increased interdependence between hotel revenue management and internet marketing strategies. E-commerce, hotel pricing strategies, and revenue optimization techniques are all looked into. Right now, it was noted that forecasting the demand and knowing the buying behavior of the customer is the key to maximize hotel profits.

Meanwhile, on the breakout session “Social Media Strategies”, tips about what hoteliers can do to boost profitability were also discussed. Things like the best practices to measure ROI, identifying time and resource allocations, as well as employee policies were looked into. Attendants were advised to take advantage of the various measures available to them including marketing, sales, and other consumer information that’s readily available on social networks.

The lessons that were gleaned from the conference were very beneficial. If used wisely, it can contribute greatly to increase RevPAR and boost hotel profit.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Rate Integrity at Times of Economic Crisis Part 2

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hotel rate parity

It is safe to say that the world has changed. The hotel revenue management strategies that worked a decade ago may no longer work today. But throwing all rate integrity strategies out of the window isn’t right either. It is crucial for hotel revenue managers to be smart in formulating and implementing yield management techniques in today’s business and leisure environment. Discounting across the board might increase hotel occupancy, but it may not necessarily increase hotel RevPAR and boost profitability.

So is avoiding drastic rate discounting a good strategy? It might sound like it but at the end of the day, hotel revenue managers still need to find a way to fill out those rooms. A creative and dynamic solution is required to solve this problem. Rate discounting might just do more harm than good over the long term. Here are some proven strategies to check out:

Rate Parity – though this can be used as a guideline, it is not a law. Revenue management staff knows that hotels need to please distributors in order to succeed. Without hotel rate parity, making a hotel profitable is difficult, if not nearly impossible. Adapting the strategy to certain market changes and being dynamic builds on the success.

Price Fencing – reward guests for loyal stays. If they stay for a week, maybe you can offer then 1 night free. Or if they reserve for five nights (or any length you have in mind), give them steep discounts.

Lead Time Pricing – giving early bird discounts is still a strong strategy. Determine your booking window and then before the usually pick-up curve, this is where you can offer the discount. Your competition might still be asleep while you are eating a significant portion of their market share.

Rate Integrity – this is what the article is all about. It is actually not necessary to maintain your old rates. However, it’s not required for you to go as low as your competitors as well. Just look at the stock market, sometimes it is up and at other times it is down. The same principle works in hospitality revenue management. Just never go too low that your brand itself starts to suffer.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Rate Integrity at Times of Economic Crisis Part 1

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hotel rate integrity

Given today’s severe economic crisis, the concepts of rate parity and rate integrity feels like it came from another planet. Over the last few months though, hotel revenue management experts have been advising that dumping hotel rates is not the right strategy to create demand; this recommendation comes amid the worst recession in US history for several decades.

However, even an international brand like Starwood Hotels & Resorts is not immune to outside pressure. The company has cut its rates by as much as 50% to unload too much excess inventory. This cut affected its 600-something properties around the globe. It is important to note though, that cutting hotel rates must be the last option. Keeping a long-term mindset can benefit the hotel over the long run and increase hotel profits when the economy starts to recover. But here comes the question about hotel rate integrity:

How Will Rate Integrity Hold Up If Everyone Else Cuts Their Prices?

If 5-star hotels around your area starting lowering their rates to 3 to 4-star levels, what will happen to rate integrity? Everyone within the hospitality revenue management strategy will be pushed to do the same. In essence, rate integrity is the perceived consumer value. They know that they are buying an inventory that have a certain value and is set at the correct price.

Depending on the room amenities and season, they will pay a bit more or less; and they are willing to do so. Fencing and yielding are already accepted concepts but there is a strong acceptable psychological price range for consumers. If the value is set too low, they might start thinking that the hotel property has less-than-stellar amenities.

The question that many hotel revenue managers is itching to ask is, will their customers still pay $200 for their room if the hotel next door charges $100 or even below that rate? The truth is, the answer cannot be generalized. While many will instinctively say “no”, certain guests also have various factors to consider including their privacy, the service, and the number of people staying at the hotel. In general, hotel revenue management strategies that are quick to adapt to the changing environment are the ones that get most of the opportunities available in the marketplace.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hotel Revenue Managers Need to Work Harder to Penetrate the Internet Marketplace

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Interacting with your target consumers online is not the same as talking with them face-to-face. This is the reason why hotel revenue managers, and most companies involved in the hospitality industry must work even harder at enhancing end-to-end site experience for their users. Building a strong, long-term relationship with guests requires constant follow-ups, updates, and encouragement. According to research studies conducted by eDigital Research, online travel sites have to go beyond the “wow” aspect and into the real needs and wants of hotel guest to increase hotel profits.

The first eTravel Benchmark revealed that the online travel industry, as a whole, is actually competing with the cutting-edge technologies being used by companies in other industries. Consumers are now expecting consumer service, user-friendliness of the website, and good navigational structure. Failure to meet these requirements will mean that the potential guest might be disappointed in what the yield management strategy of the hotel.

Aside from hotel revenue managers, airlines, restaurants, and cruise websites also need to focus their attention to these findings. It will help them come up with effective hospitality revenue management strategy that will work over the long term. The research, in particular, revealed that most airlines usually have very poor customer service.

There is only one airline, British Airways, which was rated as one of the top 10. Meanwhile, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic did well for email customer support. While customer support problems are not hobbling the hotel industry at this stage, it is crucial to keep it that way. After all, it is actually easier to switch hotels due to the vast range of choices than to switch airlines.

As Derek Eccleston has said, “in a sector whose customers are particularly promiscuous – switching brands for a better deal, looking for recommendations and picking the purchase channel that most suits them at that particular time – failing to perform well across the board is more than a missed opportunity, it is commercial suicide.”

Friday, July 24, 2009

5 Effective Ways to Get More Friends, Followers, and Fans Online

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hotel social media

So you’re interested in building substantial web presence on the internet, now the question is, what strategies will make it possible? There are actually so many ways to promote a website over the internet. Selecting the right strategy is a different matter.

Beyond search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) promotions, building a large following through social networking sites can encourage loyalty. Gaining customers in the hospitality industry doesn’t usually work when someone visits your site for one time; it is about gaining their trust and confidence. This is a good way to increase hotel sales and boost profitability.

Some of the strategies you can implement to increase RevPAR include:

Start with Individuals Who Already Know Your Company – try adding a Twitter or Facebook address on your company’s site and at the bottom of your email signature. Readers will be encouraged to sign up. And once they do, this is a chance for you to strengthen your relationship with them and improve hotel revenue.

Build a Social Hub – be sure to include a social hub webpage on your site. This can be the “About Us” section, just include options such as “Send to Friend”, follow, and become a fan options. This will enable them to be aware of new developments on the site as well as share your business to others.

Invite People – pepper your website with invitations for people to become your friend, follower, or fan. Once they accept your invite, they will receive notifications every time new developments are posted on your site.

Interlink Your Social Web – this is an incredibly helpful technique. If you already have thousands of “friends” in Facebook, place your Twitter links to your page as well. These will help you build a loyal fan base that is updated about your current promotions and hotel revenue management strategies.

Give People a Reason to Join – because social media has been abused by many users, it is inevitable for individuals to be wary of signing up or joining the social network of a company. Make sure you give them something to join whether it’s great content, cool offers, or discounts.

Try to implement the above-mentioned techniques and watch your hotel profits shoot up.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

New Projections: US Room Rates Forecast Lowered by Smith Travel

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The Smith Travel Research has released a finding the hotel revenue management industry has long been waiting for: its room rate forecast for the later part of 2009 and 2010. As the title implies, Smith Travel has significantly lowered its room rate forecast in the United States. This will definitely affect the hotels’ bottom line and their succeeding yield management strategies. As if that’s not enough bad news, the research agency also expects moderate declines persist through 2010.

Currently, it is projecting that the average daily rate will lower to 9.7 percent in 2009 and the revenue per available room will lower by 17.1 percent from last year. Just last April, the agency had projected RevPAR decline of 9.8 percent as well as a rate decline of 3.6 percent. Occupancy will also decline by 8.4 percent and will now amount to 55.4 percent, just slightly down from its earlier projection last April (56.5 percent).For 2010, the same declines in all three metrics are expected to continue. Smith Travel projects that the room rate will drop 3.4 percent, the occupancy by .3 percent and RevPAR by around 3.7 percent.

According to Mark, Lomanno, Smith Travel’s president the key to the hospitality industry’s recovery is rebound in group travel. Group business is an important segment that every hotel revenue manager should look into. It will have to return to 90 to 95 percent of its levels before the economic crisis. Reaching this figure will be very beneficial to hotel revenue management strategy because of transient demand. In addition, it will provide hoteliers with price leverage.

Overall, the hospitality industry is not going to recover anytime soon. And it will take a lot longer to reach the 2006-2007 levels. Even the demand at the first part of 2008 may be difficult to achieve. As Lomanno further added, “on an inflation-adjusted basis, it’s probably going to be longer than six years before the rates get back to 2007 levels.”

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

How Do Travelers Use Search Engines These Days?

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The internet plays a big role in the travel industry today. Everything from flight schedules to updated hotel rates can be seen online and travelers are taking advantage of the easy access of information. Both leisure and business travelers can benefit from using the internet. On the other side of the equation, hospitality revenue management companies can also benefit from this development.

Making their information easily accessible, conducting search engine optimization tasks, and trying out other web promotion strategies can increase RevPAR and increase hotel sales many times over. It is no secret that travelers these days use search engines especially the major ones including Google, Yahoo, and MSN to find travel deals and gain information about vacation alternatives. 34% mainly rely on search engines while another 23% prefer to look into the web pages of specific countries or location to get more details. Then, this is followed by online travel portals such as Travelocity and Expedia which accounts for 22%.

Before these desired results can be achieved though, determining consumer behavior and the changing trends in the market is important. For example, as searchers become more familiar with online technologies, their search patterns are becoming different as well. It is also important to take note that the number of travel portals including planning and booking sites have grown dramatically through the years. Hotel revenue managers need to factor in these changes in order to compete effectively in the marketplace.

In addition, utilizing a hotel software such as RevPAR Guru can enable hotels to give appropriate pricing through demand forecasting. This pricing software also helps hotel revenue managers keep up-to-date about what’s happening around them. Through the software’s functionality such as GDS distribution, inventory management, pricing software, and other applications, the hotel revenue management teams will be equipped with the right tools to meet the challenges today.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Online GDS Distribution vs. Traditional Booking Channels

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The hotel distribution channels that are used today, specifically travel agents and contact centers, can be very expensive to maintain. And when you take the current economic situation into consideration, it becomes even more attractive. However, maintaining these hotel distribution channels is still important because certain customers will look for these services.

What hotel revenue managers can do is to supplement these channels to increase hotel sales and boost profitability. Using online hotel bookings can result to better distribution, lower operational costs, and higher improved efficiency. It has been estimated that the cost of sales through online and offline medium vary greatly. For instance, Hilton reported that they save an estimated $25 for the bookings they get online as compared to traditional hotel distribution channels.

Other hotel groups experienced the same phenomenon. Hyatt says it costs $3 as against the $9 they shell out in operating a call center. The 6 Continents as well as the Marriot Group reported $5 per booking if they use online GDS distribution systems. So what can you do to take advantage of travel portals and online distribution systems? Well, there are many techniques that can help you in this.

Link to Popular Travel Communities

Make sure that your hotel is included in popular listings of must-go-to hotels. Travelers trust the opinion and feedback they receive from reputable online communities. It is critical to ensure that your brand is established in these sites to increase hotel sales and reach profit optimization.

Aim to Rank Higher

Nowadays, it is very difficult to land at the top 10 results in the search engine results page if you target generic keywords. Since this is the case, make sure that the keywords you use are as specific as possible. If you are located in Florida Keys, then include this in the keyword. Optimize the name of the street if it is popular among travelers as well to boost profitability.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Effectiveness of Loyalty Programs in Increasing Hotel Sales

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Because of the recession, American consumers are still at the phase when they are cautious about spending. They want to derive value from each dollar they shell out. Many hospitality revenue management companies operate under this concept. So they offer loyalty programs to encourage people to spend. But the question is, does this method really work?

Loyalty programs are nothing new in the hospitality revenue management industry. In the past, it has proven to be effective although it is certainly tricky to implement. In today’s business climate, using hotel loyalty programs to increase RevPAR and achieve profit optimization has only become trickier. Hotels.com, which commissioned the survey, points out that there are shortcomings that had been identified using this technique.

Some of the most obvious problems include its heavy restrictions, complicated fine print, and big redemption requirements. Majority of travelers would not be able to meet these requirements. In fact, only frequent business travelers, who are not looking for these deals anyway, benefit from it. Based on the survey conducted, travelers said that:

• 93 percent want to see improved terms on their travel memberships
• About half said that they were not able to use their benefits last year
• Around six out of 10 people want less restriction on how benefits can be used
• One third of those surveyed said that the bonus is not as great as was advertised
• More than a quarter dislike the fine print attached to their membership

If hotel revenue managers want to be more competitive and increase RevPAR, taking a second look at their loyalty programs may be worthwhile. It provides customers with a sense of value and “being special” at a reasonable cost to the hotel. In addition, if these clients really become “loyal”, then yield management can drastically be improved over the long term. This can increase hotel sales and boost profitability: the two things all revenue managers aim for.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Integrity of Hotel Reviews May Have Been Compromised

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Can too much of a good thing be bad? It is, if these “good” things are actually based on lies and misinformation. Similar to almost all industries in the world, revenue managers are not immune to the temptation of tricking people in an effort to boost hotel profitability. For example, some have resorted to posting fake reviews on popular web portals to increase their web popularity. It isn’t so bad if they can live up to these promises. But the problem lies mostly in principle.

As if that’s not bad enough, some hotel revenue management staff has even resorted to bad-mouthing their competitor online. This unethical practice undermines the credibility of user-generated content available on the internet. People used to trust to feedback of their peers but with these kinds of developments. However, as more people find out about the unethical practices of certain firms, they might start to think twice before looking into hotel reviews online again. It is possible that they might simply revert back to their old networks for information.

There are many other reasons why faking reviews should not be done for the purpose of increasing RevPAR and boosting hotel sales. Popular portals such as TripAdvisor.com are now cracking down on unscrupulous hoteliers. In fact, the site has already posted a warning as well as a disclaimer telling users to be careful about the practices of certain establishments.

Tripadvisor.com is not alone in its quest to clean out fraudulent reviews. Beyond the hospitality revenue management industry, technology companies like Apple are also utilizing certain measures to preserve the credibility of its site. For example, the tech company had required customers to download or purchase its products first before they get a chance to review it on the site.

These developments should serve as a warning to yield management teams not to engage in misleading practices. Technology is fast catching up and soon, they will not only be penalized, their reputation will also be destroyed if they get caught.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Should You Train the Staff in Revenue Optimization?

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Is it a good idea to put hotel revenue management at the hands of the hotel staff? The Carlton Hotels seem to think so. Many hotel revenue managers see yield management as a centralized function that should be done at the top. With the new technologies available today though, it has become possible to decentralize this function efficiently to the hotel staff. Each hotel revenue management personnel can be empowered to make data-drive revenue management decisions that can help the hotel take advantage of opportunities in the market.

However, before you think that this is a good idea, it is important to train hotel revenue management staff sufficiently to make important decisions. Jumping into this blindly may do more harm than good over the short and long term. For example, if one employee gave a bigger discount than another to clients in the same market, the guest who paid more might become disappointed. There should be a reason why certain levels of discounts are given. Pricing decisions in the hotel cannot be based on gut feel alone.

It is also important to realize that there are software requirements involved in this strategy. Currently, most revenue management platforms are designed for profit optimization through using historical data, market trends, and demand forecasting. This is already a good platform. Customizing it further might be necessary depending on the accessibility the revenue manager wants to give the staff.

RevPAR Guru is a good software for this purpose. It can transform the way yield management is conducted in the marketplace. In addition, the software has the capability to aggregate current data into the hospitality revenue management process to increase RevPAR and provide best results. Because the creators of RevPAR Guru also realize that the marketplace is highly dynamic, this platform is created to be stable and flexible at the same it.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Avoid Hotel Price Cuts With These 5 Tips

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At first, many hoteliers might have tried to focus on providing value to their loyal clients by giving excellent service, great amenities, and following-up with them. For many though, these efforts are not nearly enough.

Before giving hotel rate discounting a try though, it might be a good idea to look into relevant historical facts. Economic downturns and recessions are not a new phenomenon. Sure, many younger hotel revenue managers today might have focused more on keeping up with demand instead of stimulating it because their experience mainly occurred during the good times.

A look at the hotel price cuts from 2001-2002 reveal that this yield management strategy had short-term and long-term consequences. Instead of boosting profitability, it did just the opposite because it had damaged the entire hotel sector. When one hotel tries to increase occupancy by cutting their price, this is quickly copied by their competition. Once it happens, the trend is hard to stop and it might affect the organization for many years to come.

Fortunately, there are effective hotel revenue management alternatives that can increase RevPAR and increase hotel sales even during the bad times. Among these include:

1. Concentrate on Increasing Ancillary Hotel Profits – follow the example of airlines. A significant part of their revenue comes from fees and various charges. For example, United Airlines expects to derive $1.2 billion from ancillary revenue alone.
2. Consider Opaque Channels – these types of hotel distribution channels become more useful during an economic downturn. It will help sell excess hotel rooms without the lure of a discount.
3. Use Smart Discounting – drastic price cuts are not on the same league as smart discounting. Innovative and profitable packages can be created by the yield management team.
4. Study Customer Segments More Deeply – divide your customer base according to price sensitively. Afterwards, gauge how discounting will affect your hotel operations over the short and long term.
5. Think of Ways to Add Value – value-added factors are important to the customer. They need to feel that they are getting their money’s worth from your hotel. Provide value effectively and see achieve profit optimization.

Should hotel revenue management team go for hotel rate discounting to rev-up demand? While it goes against the better judgment of many yield managers, this option is becoming increasingly hard to resist. But with the tips above, there is no reason for you to resort to price cuts.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Google City Tours: How Will It Impact Hotels

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google city tours

Technology giant Google has recently released their latest lab project called the “City Tours”. Their foray into the travel industry was launched relatively silently compared to their other ventures. Nevertheless, being Google, this development will inevitably have a very big impact on hospitality revenue management and the industry as a whole. There are many implications related to this application.

It is crucial not to forget that Google is a powerhouse in anything internet-related. If it so desires, it can release any travel application with various functionalities. And if it makes the decision to create a travel portal, it may very well kill its competition. The company could have developed a hotel comparison software, a search engine for airline flights around the world, or even a review aggregation tool. Instead, Google decided to concentrate on local attractions using the Google Maps API.

The Google City Tours is good news for everyone in the hotel industry from the hotel revenue manager to the yield management staff. On the part of Google itself, their strategy is a good move. It is related to their thrust to provide tools and features that will supplement their current application. For example, the Google Local Search as well as their business database from partners will help travelers get suggested itineraries anywhere in the world.

Using the interface is very easy as well. Though the features are currently limited, its potential is immense. Every hotel revenue management teams from the US to Asia should know how to utilize this application as soon as possible. Tourism will be influenced greatly by the colossal amount of data that points to this index. Once it is integrated into mobile devices, hotels and other hospitality organizations that are included here will experience increase RevPAR, an increase in hotel sales, and optimal profits.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Maintaining Rate Integrity to Increase Hotel Profitability

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In the twenty years that revenue management was put into practice within the hotel industry, most of the philosophies and techniques that had been learned were from a strong economy. This presents a very challenging problem in today’s environment because hotel revenue managers are ill-equipped to deal with it. There is very little historical data that will show how yield management coped up during the tough times. Because of this, many hotel revenue management staff are still feeling their way and are committing trial-and-errors.

One notable mistake is that many companies engaged in the hospitality industry are dropping hotel rates in order to increase demand. This trend can be observed everywhere from the United States to Asia. Fortunately, there is still a significant number of hotel revenue management teams that has the current crisis in perspective. Even during the worst of times, many hoteliers strived to maintain rate integrity as not to compromise their future positions.

It should be noted that dropping prices is never an appropriate response. For one, it will take a lot of effort on the part of the hotel revenue management team to bring the price up again and increase hotel profitability. And for another, it will hurt the brand value so the hospitality establishment might not experience the full benefits of recovery once it happens.

Occupancy challenges can be solved with creativity, innovation, and appropriate yield management measures. It was widely agreed upon, in the Revenue Management Roundtable in Singapore, that strong emphasis should be given to the investment in tools, technology, and people. This is the best way to cope with the downturn. Going back to basics is important. If you get this right, then the hotel is operating on solid foundation. In no time, the establishment can experience more bookings, increased RevPAR, and profit optimization.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Hotel Revenue Management Success: 5 Web Analytic Signs You Should Watch Out For

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Sign 1: You Don’t Know How to Use Analytics to Meet Business Objectives

It is highly likely that you bought the web analytics tool believing that you’ll get important information. And these data might already be in your hands. The problem lies in deciphering the charts, graphs, and percentages so it will make sense to your business objective. If you’re dealing with this situation right now, don’t panic because you’re not alone. Many yield management teams have a hard time determining how analytics can be aligned with business objectives.

One tip to stop the confusion includes establishing the figures that needs to be analyzed before looking at the database. For example, if the objective is to generate leads, then measuring the number of leads is the right measurement for this objective.

Sign 2: No One Understands What the Dashboard Means

You might have the most attractive dashboard around, but if no one understands what it means, then it is useless. A lot of hotel revenue managers cram every minute detail into the dashboard in their effort to boost hotel sales. In some cases, these make it impossible to read.

The solution to this would be to go back to the beginning. Redefine what the organization’s goals really are and then assign a key performance indicator for each. If you want to increase RevPAR, for example, then displaying the occupancy rate and the average room rate is important.

Sign 3: The Hotel Revenue Management Team Needs to Be Reminded of the Key Performance Indicators

Right now, it is true that the analytics jargon is not yet that popular. And it is understandable if your hospitality revenue management team needs some guidance. However, if this has been going on for more than a year already, then it is time for some guidelines. Continue stating the hotel’s objectives, framing campaigns, and getting information about the key performance indicators. It might be a good idea to start with one person at a time. The sooner this strategy begins the better.

Sign 4: The General Manager of the Hotel Asks about the Site’s Number of “Hits”

Asking about “hits” is a sign that the hotelier does not understand the importance of analytics. Beyond the number of traffic the hotel website receives, the more important thing is the conversion rate. In trying to achieve profit optimization, quality is far more important than quantity.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Would It Be A Good Idea to Use Twitter in the Hotel Industry?

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During the past several months, Twitter has gained a lot of momentum and attracted everyone from techies to celebrities. Popular figures such as Oprah, Demi Moore, and successful internet marketers all use this tool to enhance their relationships with fans/subscribers. Sysomos Inc., a leading social media research institute, decided to conduct a study on how this social marketing giant became successful. Its data contains the trends about Twitter’s growth and how it is being used by millions around the world.

  • 72.5 percent of Twitter users opened their accounts in the first five months of this year

  • 85.3 percent of users update their accounts less than one time a day

  • 21 percent never posted a single Tweet

  • 5 percent of users account for 75 percent of the site’s activity

  • 93.6 percent have less than 100 users following them

  • 92.4 percent of users follow less than a hundred people

  • New York has the most number of users

  • 50 percent of all updates are posted using mobile, web-based, and other tools outside Twitter.com

  • More women use Twitter than men


So what do all these figures have to do with hotel revenue management? It is crucial to note that Twitter experienced astronomical growth in a very short timeframe using one technique: viral marketing. Understanding the concept of viral marketing is important for the effective online and offline promotions of hotels. It is a great way to increase RevPAR and maximize hotel profits.

In today’s environment, it has become more challenging to attract a decent market share in the hotel industry. There are many important lessons that the Twitter example can give in yield management. First is not to underestimate word-of-mouth on the internet. And second, to build a core group of loyal clients or users that can sustain its operations.

Hotels can also use Twitter as a tool to promote their services on the internet. This will increase bookings and improve hotel profitability when done properly. Establishing a connection with the top users can be helpful in accomplishing this goal.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Knowing Your Customers Though Online Travel Communities

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If you were asked how well you know your customers right now, what would you answer? Beyond demographics, it is important to understand what your customers are really like.

Many hospitality companies have composite profiles that give details about their customer’s job titles, frequency of travel, and purpose of visit. But while it is important to know these things, it is no longer enough. Relying on impersonal information makes it difficult for hotels to connect to their clients at the deeper level. In fact, some hotel revenue management staff even describes it as trying to converse with a cardboard. Experts at yield management know that customers are not likely to respond if the offer does not suit their needs.

It is critical to finally recognize that hotel guests are real people. They have genuine needs, issues, and motivations that drive their behavior. Companies in the hospitality revenue management industry must know them deeper in order to respond to their concerns. In addition, they are also very dynamic and their situation can change easily. For example, in this troubled economic times, some of them might have lost their jobs, lost money on investments, or are otherwise just cutting back in preparation for tougher times ahead.

In this kind of critical condition, better monitoring is not an option; it has become a necessity for hotels to survive and thrive. More comprehensive market research is required to boost profitability. But aside from relying on historical data, it might be a good idea to get connected to the consumers now. Joining online communities to observe and learn is highly recommended.

Online communities are a good place to pick the customer’s mind and increase RevPAR. Join a community that has enough members to get a wide range of perspectives. It will also give you an idea about what general sentiments are like. Better yet, you can start a discussion yourself so you can know their feedback and suggestions.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

3 Tips for International Hotel Internet Marketing

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Catering to an international audience is very important in the hospitality industry. For this reason, hotel revenue management teams should look beyond their borders and look at opportunities elsewhere. A lot of yield management practices make the mistake of focusing too much on developing an English website without considering how they can promote their hotel internationally. Some of the principles in search engine optimization in English-speaking countries are also applicable elsewhere.

But it is also crucial to remember that there are cultural connotations in the wording of these sites. People will type the content differently. Improving hotel SEO means that hotels should be aware of these differences and think of ways to take advantage of it. It is challenging to optimize a hotel website for an international audience at the same time to boost profitability. There are certain guidelines that can help your online hotel distribution strategy a success though. Among these are:

Language Targeting – obviously, targeting an international audience means creating a website in that language. However, some hotel revenue managers make the mistake of simply translating their English content to another language. Direct translation would not be that effective in this case, it is important to consider accurate translation containing words international audiences use.

Register at Local Search Engines – registering at top sites like Google and Yahoo is a must. But in certain countries, there are preferred search engines that locals patronize. In addition, registering a physical address in that location may also be beneficial. It will give you the advantage of local listing. The process is pretty straightforward and is quite effective.

Relocate Your Site’s Hosting – one highly overlooked factor is where your site is hosted. Most hotel revenue managers will simply set up a virtual host in their existing server. While this is acceptable, it is important to note that Google and other search engines actually give priority to web servers located to the origin of the search. That is, if your targeted searcher is searching in France, Google prioritize the sites hosted in that country.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Finding the Right Online Marketing Channel to Increase Hotel Profitability

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If you have $1 million dollar to invest in one online hotel marketing channel, which one should you choose? This is a very challenging question that every hotel revenue manager should know the answer to. It is a given that using a variety of tools is very helpful. But among these tools, there will always be one that stands out. Once you find the right tool for your site, it will generate a dramatically higher number of visitors.

With so many different hotel online marketing solutions available in the market though, it is easy to get confused. Fortunately, the tips below will give you a guideline on what hotel revenue management tool you should concentrate on. The right yield management solution lies in the individual strengths of the hotel, its capabilities, and its goals. So here are the hotel internet marketing channels available today:

• Display advertising – essentially means putting advertisements on third-party websites to generate traffic and create brand awareness. Some ad formals include overlays, banners, and interactive ads.
• Email marketing – the system of collecting email address (leads) and then sending their newsletters through emails.
• Pay per click advertising (PPC) – bidding for a placement in popular search engines on your niche. It gives instant visibility based on the keywords chosen
• Online public relations – this strategy mainly uses media online outlets to earn brand recognition and increase hotel sales.
• Search engine optimization (SEO) – SEO should always be part of a hotel online distribution strategy. Majority of users uses search engines to look for products, information, services, and ideas. If you’re not listed at the first page of the results page, then your hotel is missing out on an opportunity to increase RevPAR and boost hotel sales.
• Social Media Marketing – characterized by the method of using social media platforms to improve visibility through word-of-mouth and relationships.

As you can see, there are many ways to market your hotel online. The right strategy for your hotel depends on the company goals in revenue management (whether the focus is educating readers, increasing raw traffic, or boosting hotel sales). The budget and available resources within the company are important factors as well.

If the hotel has strong development resources then Search engine optimization and using viral content might be the best idea. On the other hand, if the hotel has strong creative resources then email marketing (copywriters) and banner advertising (graphic designers) is the best option. And if the company has strong social resources then obviously social marketing is the solution to hotel profitability.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Optimize Hotel GDS Distribution

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The objective of improving the hotel distribution system lies in the Global Distribution System and it is not really as difficult as it first appears. Effective hotel revenue managers know that they can easily take control of their hotel GDS by knowing the opportunities available in their properties. These opportunities can range from marketing the hotel using targeted advertising so that they can be placed at the top of hotel listings.

Meanwhile, doing simple steps like using revenue management features such as “Hotel UpSell” and “Best Available Rate” can help as well. It is important to realize that there are actually tons of available opportunities to advertise within the hotel GDS. Still though, hotel revenue management teams should determine when the best time to advertise is and what messages should be given.

Specific GDS Promotions

Specific messages should also be promoted. For example, in some cases, hotels want to market a specific destination while some are pushing their brand to a new target market. A lot of GDS today can provide personalized programs that are customized according to the hotel’s needs. It can include various advertising tools that are available in the hotel distribution system.

Effective advertising tools usually available from major GDS include:
• Sign-in Advertising – direct advertising messages during at the period of signing in to the GDS by agents.

• Targeted Textual Advertising – helps hotels promote the products and services to the target market during the time when they are ready to make their decisions.

• Travel Agency Portals – usually related to graphical user interface or GUI. Hotel GUIs allows hotels to use the combination of text and graphics to make a bigger impact. Because of this, the tool is particularly beneficial when promoting brand awareness or a certain property with pictures.

• Online Itineraries – more visual content is used in this case. The strong images coupled with the strong push marketing strategy helps hotels make a greater impact in the minds of their consumers. This can ultimately increase hotel sales.

Each GDS should provide targeted promotional tools so that hotels can use this to further promote their brand or properties. Meanwhile, online hotel GDS can be composed of travel agency portals, internet brochures, and online itineraries; these can be maintained by the hotel itself depending on the GDS in question.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

High-End Hotels Should Focus on "Best Customers"

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Luxury brands that have established a name for themselves are now finding themselves in a bind. The bad economy has taken its toll on everyone. In fact, even highly successful establishments that had successfully invested in image marketing are forced to rethink their strategies and come up with new approaches. Does this mean that they need to lower their prices? It may be an option but this is not necessarily a good idea.

A lot of hotel revenue managers have found out that exploring strategies like the packaged goods approach can yield rewards. The so-called symbolic clients or those households with incomes ranging from $250,000 to $500,000 have become fewer. Because of this, the very definition of luxury is evolving. Though genuine luxury will still be noted for its inherent value, guests are now looking for great experiences including those that produce unforgettable memories, give unique experiences, or are sensually orchestrated. Taking advantage of these changing trends can increase hotel sales.

Boosting profitability also means getting out the comfort zone. Some luxury hotels are now experimenting with time-out travel such as relaxing vacations, eco-travel, and exotic travel. All these will aid in helping hotels thrive, increase RevPAR, and increase hotel profitability even during bad times. Luxury clients are usually educated consumers. They know when to put a premium of things even if it cost little or nothing. For example, luxury buyers are happy when they get dry firewood, can enjoy a hot bath, eat fresh food, or receive something in elegant packaging.

Smart hotel revenue management teams are now trying to focus on their best consumers in order to surprise and delight the. The “best customer” is defined as one who is more loyal, spends more, and refers friends to the hotel. In addition, customers who forgive readily when some errors are committed are the most preferred customers. And most of all, they are value-sensitive and not just price-sensitive.
Luxury brands need to identify who their “best customers” are and cater to their needs and wants especially during bad economic times. It will help them boost hotel sales and enhance overall profitability of the hotel.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Understanding American Behavior in Booking Travel

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It is no secret that American travelers are now using the internet to get the best travel deals for their family. And once they are on vacation, it is their desire to spend as much time with their loved ones as possible. The chairman and CEO of Ypartnership, Peter Yesawich, provided an overview of consumer behavior with regards to their travel and leisure activities.

Citing the findings of the National Travel Monitor, he revealed that social values and technology play a big part in influencing American travelers. According to the findings, technology is especially important because 61 percent of travelers cited that they used the internet exclusively for their purchase decisions. In addition, the 2009 Monitor further declared that 56 percent of these travelers make their online travel bookings.

Based on the study, it seems that only 7 percent of American still go to travel agents exclusively for help. Meanwhile, 24 percent said that they used both travel agents and the internet in making their decisions. Aside from researching online, American travelers are also increasingly becoming active in online communities.

Price-Driven Market

Americans are using websites to check out the lowest possible price for their requirements. It remains the most important feature for searchers with 87 percent of them citing that this is the main reason they browse online. Another feature that can help boost hotel sales is the booking capability.

Effective yield management staff knows that this can significantly increase RevPAR and help maximize profits. In fact, 74 percent o f the respondents said that they prefer to book conveniently from the website. Other features such as the capability to share media content like photographs, videos, and articles are also very helpful.

Family Values is Still the Most Important

But before you think that price is the most critical factor, the Monitor discovered that Americans are actually more interested in spending quality time with their families. The intergenerational travel packages are quite hot because of this. In addition, many people still value their time. So they would much prefer to get personalized services than do everything themselves from scratch.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Information: Key to Successful Social Networking in the Hospitality Industry

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In an increasingly interconnected world, social networking has become an integral part of hotel revenue management or any type of business organization in the service industry for that matter. Companies have struggled to discover how to take advantage of this opportunity. New research has shown though, that the to being successful on social networking is information acquisition. It will help boost hotel profitability.

This finding was recently published at the Information Technology & Tourism Journal. The reasons why people join social networking are because of the Social-Psychological and Hedonic benefits it provides. Their attitude towards online social communities such as VirtualTourist.com and Tripadvisor.com is heavily influenced by this.

Why Information Acquisition is Important

It is easy to assume that the reasons people join hotel social networking sites is because of the sense of belonging it provides. However, studies show that this reason only comes second to information acquisition. Consumers primarily search the internet for updated information, deals, and travel news. Meanwhile, hedonic benefits such as entertainment and amusement come third. Hotel channel management needs to focus on the three factors.

The survey, which these findings are based on, was divided into five categories including: benefits of online community activities, attitude towards the travel community, level of participation in these travel social networking sites, frequently used sources, and demographic profiling. Majority of the respondents were students and professionals in their 20’s and 30’s.

In essence, the research findings just proved what most hotel revenue managers knew all along. As according to the author, “tourism is one of the highest involvement industries” and because of this people “want to get as much knowledge as they can do reduce risk”. If you’re an hotelier, you can be sure that your company will benefit with increase RevPAR and hotel sales when you provide the necessary information.

In addition, providing relevant information that is up-to-date will help the travel community overall, attract web visitors, and increase your chances of converting these searchers into actual guests.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Hotel SEO: The Next Big Technique to Boost Profitability

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Previously, hotels can simply rely on their location and brand image to drive revenues. Some just piggybacked on their partnerships with travel agencies and booking websites. But as the market becomes more competitive, it is becoming clear that conducting their own internet marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) initiatives is a key driver to future growth.

Getting bookings directly from the hotel’s website can dramatically increase hotel sales and overall revenue. Basically, the establishment would no longer need to pay a certain “commission” to their partners so the profits derived all remain within the hotel. Ranking high on the search engine has an added advantage. Customers can directly access the website and will be able to make judgments for themselves without bias. Other channel distribution partners might have existing agreements with other hotels and the establishment might not be optimally promoted using this medium.

Implementing other marketing technique will also be very helpful. Among the things you can consider include:

Copywriting and Blogginghelps the company become recognized leader in the field. It also connects the hotel with the consumers so it can create a lot of buzz. In addition, it is a proven yield management technique to increase traffic and improve visitor loyalty.

Web Marketing
– in order to boost profitability, an all around web marketing strategy needs to be effected. It can increase hotel bookings, improve RevPAR, and maximize profitability.

Video Marketing and Social Networkingit has been proven, time and again that using Web 2.0 tools like videos, images, and blogs increases hotel revenue. Video marketing is becoming particularly popular these days especially when it comes to connecting social networks. Hotels can greatly benefit from this.

Email Marketing – newsletters essentially keeps you on the top of mind of your targeted consumers. This is because the audience will frequently be reminded of the hotel’s brand, its amenities, and the level of service it provides. If done properly, it can greatly increase RevPAR and boost hotel profitability.

Friday, June 26, 2009

How Does Hotel Internet Marketing Work?

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Last August 2008, the Prophis eResearch conducted an in-depth study on consumer behavior when it comes to booking hotels online. The research involved 433 American consumers and it aimed to determine how much influence user-generated content, reviews, video, and other social media influenced their buying decisions. In addition, it also tried to explore how much impact meandering search engines and other websites had on their opinion of the hotels.


In essence, the research body discovered that while people still very much value the feedback of their family and friends (it ranks number 1 in terms of influencing their hotel booking), social media comes in second. Offline and online, this proves that word-of-mouth is the top trusted source of decisions. Online, hotels can take advantage of features such as “forward to friend”, e-newsletters, and reviews to enhance their brand image and boost profitability.


There are specific steps they can implement in their online hotel revenue management promotional strategies. Among these are:


• Web Copy – some hotels stop their website efforts after the initial site has been set up. It is important to continue updating the website with press release, news feeds, and other interesting info to keep consumers interested. This can drastically help increase RevPAR and hotel sales.


• Keyword Research – any internet marketer will tell you that research should be the foundation of any hotel online sales strategy. This is because promoting your site using the wrong keywords is just pointless.


• Alt Tag Placement – each web page needs to be appropriate alt tags for search engine optimization


• Meta Tag Placement – some hotel revenue managers underestimate the value of placing proper meta tags on the website. Relevant and original meta tags have been cited as one of the top reasons why certain websites rank highly on the search engine results page. The structure of the meta-tags will be discovered by search engine spiders and when it is found relevant, it will be ranked as such.


Hotel revenue managers can benefit greatly from the hotel online marketing trend if they come up with effective yield management strategies.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hotel Industry Expectations for the Second Half of 2009

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According to the PKF Hospitality Research, RevPAR which is an important indicator of the hotel industry’s health, will bottom out in the third quarter of 2009. After months of decline, it is expected that the industry will finally rebound. This news is bound to give hotel revenue managers around the world a sense of relief. The escalating trend of declining hotel revenue began in the third quarter of 2008 so it really does come full cycle if this trend reverses itself in a one-year timeframe.

The President of PKF Hospitality Research Mark Woodworth said that while their finding is welcome news, 2009 will still post the “weakest year on record for the domestic lodging industry”. In addition, revenue per available room for 2010 will still be disappointing even if it is not as bad as this year. Taking into consideration the employment level and the demand for lodging, it becomes clear that RevPAR can decline by 17.5% overall for 2009. In 2010, decline in RevPAR will not be as bad but it is still at 3.5%.

These factors point to the conclusion that effective yield management should still be practiced by the revenue management team. Also, the hotel revenue management strategies such as increasing online presence, using hotel software, and training the service staff should be continued and further strengthened to give hotels a competitive edge.

Mr. Woodworth further added that “If you are wondering when we’ll start to see actual growth in RevPAR, then you’ll have to wait until 2011” though the “operating environment is going to get a little less painful”. The decline for lodgings in the United States peaked during the first quarter of 2009 at 8 percent. According to the Hotel Horizons, demand will continue to regress but at a diminishing rate.

For the remainder of 2009, the projected quarterly decline is 4.7 percent on the average. Overall, hotel revenue will decrease by 16 percent this year because of the decline in RevPAR. Beyond the year 2009, there will be an average annual increase of 3.2 percent in the next four years according to the same study.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

How to Implement Yield Management Strategy at the Front Desk

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In today’s highly modern environment, it might be tempting to focus on new hotel distribution channels such as popular travel portals and agency partnerships but there is an important segment that hotel revenue managers need to focus on as well: walk-in clients. Though this market may not be as big as the number of consumers you will receive from the internet and elsewhere, it presents great opportunities for the hotel. Walk-in consumers are usually those who had experienced the hotel’s service in the past, were referred by their friends, or simply received the hotel’s value proposition.

The front desk staff, in this instance, will assume that the walk-in client is a booking client but this is sometimes not the case. This is because they might be put off for some reason whether it is the high rates being charged to them or the “curb appeal” of the hotel does not suit their preferences. Whatever the case, there are techniques that will help improve hotel sales and boost profitability from this market:

Connect with Clients – it cannot be stressed enough that establishments in the hospitality industry, particularly hotels, should focus on service. The front desk staff and everyone in the front line should be trained to meet the needs of the clients whether during the peak or off-peak season to optimize hotel profit. Employees need to establish eye content, smile, and greet guests before they are greeted.

Offer Alternatives – depending on the availability of hotel rooms, which can use established using the inventory software, hotel revenue managers can offer two or more choices to the guest. For example, instead of quoting the highest rates, options should be given upon the guest’s inquiry. Some alternatives can include room vs. suite, view vs. non-view, and standard vs. deluxe among others. Doing this helps changes the question on the client’s mind from “should I book here?” to “what room should I get?”

Describe the Hotel’s Offering Properly – instead of directly using terms like “deluxe rooms” and “continental breakfast”, it might be a good idea to fully describe what these services entail. Put yourself in the guest’s shoes and talk in the kind of language they would appreciate. This is hotel revenue management at its best.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Increase RevPAR Using Online Distribution Channels

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Utilizing direct online bookings seems to be the best solution for struggling hotels. With the credit crunch all over the United States, Europe, and Asia, it seems clear that innovations should be of utmost consideration among hotel revenue managers. Most companies, especially those involved in the hospitality industry, are working to simplify their current processes and benchmark against market leaders to boost profitability. At the center of this initiative is the utilization of cutting-edge technologies that will help increase RevPAR and improve hotel revenue from the internet.

For most hotels, increasing their online presence will effectively lower their cost and reduce the need for other hotel distribution channels. Doing so will help improve direct brand recognition as well as improve their profit for every booking. And if you add the convenient and opportunity of being available 24/7 on the internet, it is only to be expected that hotel sales will shoot up dramatically.

Using software applications such as the RevPAR Guru can help in this instance. After all, it is not enough to be available anymore. It is important for hotel revenue managers to concentrate at their yield management. They need to use inventory software and useful hotel software to find out when they should lower their rates and when they can charge more.

In addition, it is also important to take note that transforming the hotel’s website into a 24/7 booking channel is crucial. Certain individuals prefer to do everything online instead of getting up and calling on the phone for reservations. There is a huge opportunity in this segment. Implementing all this can lead to minimal distribution spending, enhanced loyalty, and increased hotel sales.

The first step into reaping all these benefit is to realize that internet marketing, search engine optimization, pay-per-click campaigns, and other online strategies can be useful. As the internet becomes an even more important part of generating hotel sales, hotel establishments that offer online booking solutions have a better possibility of attracting untapped markets.

Monday, June 22, 2009

3 Tips to Increase Hotel Sales This 2009

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Even though the market is tough and almost every hotel is struggling to survive, it is still possible to increase hotel sales in 2009. It is just important to think of innovative ways to grow hotel revenue and provide value to the consumer. Jumpstarting hotel revenue starts by looking at the opportunities in the market with increasing hotel bookings, RevPAR, and average rate in mind.

Boosting profitability starts with knowing what your customers want and need. Determine how the inventory can be best utilized. In addition, providing a complete hospitality experience by setting up meeting space, restaurants, and fitness facilities can provide a good experience for the guests. Here are other 5 tips to increase RevPAR and increase your hotel revenue this year.

Cater to Families – hotel revenue managers can guarantee adjoining rooms to meet the needs of people traveling in groups. Charging a minimal surcharge will ensure that your hotel will be the preferred option compared to your competitors. And when you’re offering complimentary breakfast, make sure that there is a package for the whole family too. Just charge $5-$10 for the third or fourth child to get their loyalty. Adding a menu for children is likewise a good idea.

Last-Minute Getaways will Continue – most people have unpredictable schedules. That’s why last-minute bookings will still be prevalent even if majority of customers prefer to schedule everything in advance. With this in mind, make sure you take advantage of this opportunity by creating a suit package. Make sure you promote your last-minute deals online by utilizing email marketing, search engine optimization, pay per click, or adding your site to travel portals.

Closer-to-Home-Vacations – another apparent trend nowadays is that both leisure and business travelers are deciding to meet or take a vacation somewhere closer to their home. Though this may sound like bad news for hotels that rely on foreign travelers, it actually presents an opportunity for many. Consider advertising locally more than you used to. You might be surprised by the resulting increase in RevPAR and profit optimization.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Coping Strategies for Revenue Managers during a Recession

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During a soft economy, hotel revenue managers struggle to increase hotel sales. Because hotel revenue was strong during the past few years, they are used to managing demand, not generating them. Out of panic or perhaps desperation, some are slashing rates too low. For the whole industry, this can be a bad signal because everyone will suffer. The already low hotel revenue might dip even further. Responsible discounting should be practiced by all players in the hospitality industry.

Beyond that, there are certain revenue management strategies you can implement to keep your brand strong and your profitability high.

Watch Your Competitors – it may be tempting to cut your price drastically to attract a large market share and boost profitability. But this strategy simply won’t work. You’ll just get one-off customers instead of loyal ones. Instead, you should research on the competitors’ hotel rates and look at market data. Here, you can decide how much you can lower your rates and which market you should lower it to.

Look at the Needs of the Clients – instead of looking at what your hotel can offer, start looking at what the clients actually need. Determine the requirements of your target market and strive to meet it. In addition, it is also important to be visible so look at specific mediums your customers frequent.

Improve Your Hotel Rate Distribution Strategy – distributing your service using online distribution channels is a method worth a look. At the same time, be aware that your hotel has various types of clients. If the 80/20 rule holds true, effort should be concentrated on the 20 percent market that gives 80 percent of your income.

Reduce Commoditization – it all comes down to what you can offer the customers. Revenue management is not about competing with the lowest price possible; it is competing based on giving value to clients. Ultimately, most customers will choose a hotel they think will give then the best value for money based on the location, facilities, and service of the hotel.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Tips for Effective Hotel Channel Management

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With the recessionary economy today, travel decisions have changed dramatically. For hotel revenue managers to maximize profits, they need to understand where their customers are coming from. One of the biggest hotel booking channel is the coordination with meeting and travel planners. Understanding how this segment operates is important to maintain consistent profits and boost hotel profitability.

Golf, spas, and clubs are taking second place. Travel and meeting planners are pressured to come up with value for money proposals that are in-tune with the business environment. Expectations of the hotel facilities go back to the basics. Among the things that are necessary include reasonably price food and beverage, internet access, cable TV, desk, chairs, and comfortable bedding.

In addition, a lot of planners need to minimize travel expenses. Thus, most of the sites they choose for meetings need to be close to airports, the office, or the area should have affordable rental cars and other transportation. As you can see, yield management today is more focused on providing the most basic amenities with excellence. And as always, the hotel service of the establishment itself is of foremost consideration. The reasons why all these changes were made include:

Practicality – the practicality the hotel provides is a crucial consideration for planners. It is important to give an impression that the establishment offers value for money. And that everything that is needed by the guest is already provided by the hotel.

Reliability – before closing in and increasing hotel bookings, smooth transactions are required. No one wants to deal with an unreliable hotel with changing policies. Being reliable also help those in the hospitality industry build relationship and increase hotel sales in the future.

Building on these Relationships – once relationships have been established, it should be maintained. Hotels will be giving up their advantage if they don’t strengthen these types of relationships especially if it involves a profitable hotel distribution channel. Joining social networks, getting recommendations, and receiving good feedback will all inspire others to try the hotel.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Relationship Marketing Online Can Improve Hotel Sales

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If there’s one thing certain in today’s economy, it’s the fact that hotels will not thrive if they cut-off their marketing budget. In this instance, it is important not to completely eliminate advertising and promotions; it is to make every cent count. Revenue management will play a big role in this instance. Making do with less is the key to optimizing hotel sales and boosting profitability. Delivering effective and customized messages through all major hotel sales distribution fronts including print, web, and through partnerships will establish an emotional connection with consumers.

It is a recognized fact that conducting a personalized campaign such as creating customized landing pages, demographic profiling, and joining online communities will enable hotels to connect with customers emotionally. This will deliver unforgettable experiences that can form continuous relationships and long-term profitability with the hotel.

Creating Relationships Online

Because of the relatively impersonal nature of online marketing, most hotel revenue managers mistakenly believe that just setting up advertising campaigns such as pay-per-click (PPC) and banner advertising is enough to generate online hotel sales. This cannot be farther from the truth. With the emergence of social networking sites, consumers are seeking personalized service from the hotel.

In addition, prospects, now more than ever, have access to information and reviews that were previously unavailable. Instead of looking at this as a threat, those involved in the hospitality industry can look at this as an opportunity. If they provide good experiences to their existing guests, these customers can provide good feedback on their service.

Positive reviews have the potential to significantly increase hotel online bookings and ultimately, improve hotel profitability. Existing customers can reach others through user-generated content sites and blogs. Meanwhile, hotels can further enhance relationships through email marketing, networking, and community participation.

Studies also reveal that search engine optimization and marketing also rank high in terms of generating internet revenue. Combining all these better business ideas will inevitably improve hotel revenue.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

From Managing to Generating Customer Demand in Revenue Management

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With the stagnation in the market today, hotel revenue managers need to shift their focus from managing demand to generating demand. Supply will remain consistent because with the exception of capacity expansion, this inventory is fixed. Previously, hotel revenue management was designed to maximize profits during the high and peak season. After all, any yield management teams are always on the lookout for better business ideas that will increase hotel sales and boost profitability.

No one probably expected that such a drastic turnaround can occur within such a short timeframe. Right now, every hotelier is scrambling to use hotel revenue software not to manage demand but to increase it through accurate price predications, improve hotel online channel distribution, and analyze market conditions. Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that hotel revenue management plays an even bigger role in the tough times than in the good ones. To help you improve your yield management strategy, below are some tips:

Analyze Existing Market Strategies – before reacting to current difficulties in a “panic” mode, it is important to step back and see what methodologies are currently effective. If the previous marketing plan implemented by the hotel is still working, it would be best to complement it instead of eliminating it altogether.

Restructure the Value Proposition of the Property – what kind of message does the hotel send out to prospects? Looking into the value proposition found on the website, travel portals, and even travel agencies have a great impact on the customer’s buying decision. It is crucial to know whether you should brand your hotel as a “family-friendly” establishment, a “pet friendly environment”, a “business accommodations hotel” or any other proposition.

Make the Customer Find You – potential customers cannot stay at your hotel if they don’t know you exist? Market your hotel effectively online and offline. Your business should be visible across all hotel sales channels. This is one of the key methods of increasing hotel bookings and RevPAR.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hotel Profits to Increase - Goldman Sachs

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While everything in the hotel industry seem kind of grim these days, an analyst at Goldman Sachs thinks otherwise. Steven Kent said that investors should be buying hotels shares already because it presents a huge opportunity in terms of future earnings. As expected though, market sentiment to his perspective was lukewarm. He further added that the “economy is not too hot” that’s why expense control remain present. On the other hand, it also is “not too cold” that’s why travel purposes are loosening up.

So what does this announcement mean for hotel revenue managers? Well, as supply contracts, it will group to a halt over the short term. In the next few years, room rates can drastically increase because of shortage and asset values will start to go up. Another factor Kent points out is the revenue per available room. Though everyone certainly wants to increase RevPAR, it is also a good indication that this key measure didn’t turn negative until the second part of 2008 even as other industries suffered.

Hotel Revenue Management Techniques for Today

While waiting for the market to get better, there are many yield management strategies that can be implemented to increase hotel profitability. This is because while the future holds a lot of potential, today’s market conditions are still undeniably challenging. Maximizing RevPAR entails getting a pricing software, inventory software, and hotel revenue management software that can predict market behavior accurately. That way, the hotel revenue management can know when to increase their prices and when to give discounts to customers.

RevPAR Guru offers the kind of technology necessary to survive and even thrive in the best or worst economic conditions. With its seamless integration of various features, it can accurately keep tract of hotel inventory and predict how much should be charged during particular seasons to boost hotel profitability.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Increasing Brand Loyalty through Your Online Presence

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There is no doubt that the information age is upon us. Hotels that previously relied on their brand names and popularity are now finding themselves competing with previously unknown properties. This is because the web has made the world a smaller place and hotel revenue managers need to accept that fact. A lot of less-popular establishments are being discovered online because of their service, affordability, and even location. The only way to survive is to compete head-to-head not only with direct competitors but by making your hotel stand out amidst the internet clutter.

Today, the first generation (the brochure sites) and the second generation websites (online bookings, etc) have become outdated. The third generation websites, the latest in the field, is all about being interactive with the consumers. A lot of travel portals today let consumers post their positive or negative review about any particular institution they wish. Web 2.0, or even Web 3.0 as it is referred to today, not only gives consumers the benefit of convenience, it also gives them the benefit of choices.

Rather than seeing this as a threat though, smart hotel revenue managers see this change as an opportunity. After all, if they give the right information at the right time at the acceptable price range, more people will find their hotel online and make their internet hotel bookings. In this case, it is crucial to place all relevant data on the hotel’s website. Consumers will not make an extra effort to call your hotel and waste if competing establishments informs the web visitor about everything.

If the right process is done, the result is a significant increase in hotel sales. In addition, the property can achieve profit optimization through increasing RevPAR. In addition, after trying out the hotel’s services, the time comes for the guest to make a decision. Will he go back to the same hotel or not? If he answers yes, then you have gained another loyal customer.

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About Me

RevPar Guru is the most advanced hotel revenue management software solution providing dynamic rate optimization, real-time pricing, integrated internet and extranet yield channel management, plus GDS sales distribution focused on hotel’s RevPar increase while maintaining rate integrity and automated rate parity.