In this era of big data and complex algorithms, many in revenue management find it convenient to almost exclusively rely on brand and third-party technology for their hotel’s strategies.   While those tools play a valuable, even essential role in the process, we cannot discount the importance of human input in creating a customized strategy that is refined on a regular basis in response to the situation on the ground.

Regardless of whether you’re supported by a third-party manager, operating yourself, engage brand support or a third-party platform, here are a few best practices, that will help you get the most from each room night.

Garbage in/Garbage Out

The old saw still holds true.  The systems interpret historical data and apply it to the future to recommend rate, open or close discount channels, etc.  Unfortunately, historical data does not consider city-wide events, a giant wedding party that is pending contracts, or a special event that was announced last night.  Those in-market insights need to be added to the system on a regular basis; in some cases, more than once a day.  Educating the system so it has the most complete picture possible, will ensure that you receive the best guidance technology can produce.

Determine Your Own Destiny

It’s common knowledge that there are not enough quality revenue managers in our industry.  The best talent often has an overwhelming portfolio to manage and, in an effort to serve multiple masters, many resort to cookie-cutter strategies.  Set it and forget it – as the commercial says.  That may serve to keep you in step with rate parity issues and brand standards, but if you want more than your fair share, property leadership needs to actively partner, even advocate, for well-informed, day by day rate setting and channel management.  Many of our hotels are in unique markets or seasonal resort areas where it is essential that we respond quickly and loudly to maximize our exposure and offer a rate that is strategically targeted to achieve the optimum mix of business.

Build a Bench

Don’t let the industry’s lack of bench strength impede your efforts.  Share knowledge and start cross training your own staff, so you’re never in a lurch when someone leaves, or even calls out sick.  Look for analytical, detail-oriented people who have a good understanding of who the customer is and are comfortable learning new technology.  If they’re tuned in to what’s going on around town – that’s even better.  Whether you’re a select service GM who’s entirely responsible for revenue management, (plus 100 other things), or you’re a sales/marketing/reservations generalist being guided by a GM, it’s essential for your hotel’s success and your own career development to empower others around you.

Utilize Experienced Resources

Every hotel should have a go-to resource who can help guide property leaders and the resources/systems they engage.  Years ago, when I was a hotel GM, I wanted to improve my hotel’s performance and so I began tinkering with the system to achieve my goals.  From that early introduction, I continued learning and sharing information and eventually adjusted my career path to focus on this ever-evolving field.    Having an experienced person to rely on helps eliminate the guess work out of a process that is as much art as science.  I hold weekly screen-share calls with every hotel in our portfolio to make sure we are aware of our group and transient pacing, making timely adjustments to changes in the market and strengthening our own bench at the same time.

The bottom line is that solid revenue management will make or break a hotel’s top line.  Don’t leave your success in the hands of other people and technology.  Make sure your hand is on the wheel.

-Don Urbahn

May, 2018