Though you always have hotel revenue management top of mind, it’s important to review and update your strategies to optimize performance.
NB: This is an article from Social Tables
From leveraging hospitality sales software to polished branding to targeted guest services, you can always find opportunities to boost incremental revenue. Read on to learn 11 next-level tips and strategies for improved hotel revenue management.
Discover strategies to improve hotel revenue management
1. Re-identify your target guests and events’ niche—and repeat
You probably believe you’ve got a handle on your customer profile. You draw mostly business or leisure travelers. Or, your guests are predominantly families or couples. But there are likely niche customer groups that have (or will) discover your hotel. It’s important to notice new market segment opportunities quickly so you answer the needs of these guests and build loyalty. Use these strategies to identify (and keep!) emerging customer groups:
Send post-event surveys to planners.
The post-event survey typically targets event attendees, but hotels can benefit from adopting this practice with event planners. Keep it cost-effective with a simple Cvent survey or Google Forms survey. Remember, planners are exceptionally busy, so keep these surveys short and make it clear your goal is better meeting their needs next time.
Keep tabs on your analytics.
Pay attention to transformative business insights coming through your sourcing platforms every month. Discover audience information and see where the most qualified RFPs are coming from.
Spot the geographic location of the people who visit your website using Google Analytics. It can also reveal which landing pages attract visitors and how long the page holds their attention. This data can help you target your marketing geographically and spot conversion improvement opportunities on your website.
Ask your staff to communicate about shifts in amenity use.
For example, people asking for additional coffee packets and coffee cups throughout the day could indicate an uptick in the use of guest rooms for virtual business meetings. If this bears out on closer observation, you can ramp up advertising for meeting spaces and improve the coffee station in the lobby.
Talk to your guests.
Post-stay surveys can help you spot problem areas and opportunities, but don’t underestimate the power of face-to-face conversations with your guests. Encourage your staff to strike up friendly discussions with guests about their responses to your hotel—both positive and negative. From these conversations, trends and opportunities can emerge. You may discover people from two cities often stop overnight at your property on the way to another. Or, that people chose your hotel for a weekend trip because of your live music offerings on Friday nights.
Finally, remember that some market segments are not ideal for your property and could even minimize room availability for customer segments with better Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR). For example, if your focus is group business, drawing too many families could negatively impact your appeal among professionals.
2. Add customized and creative amenities
Now that you know your guests and ideal event planners even better, take steps to tailor your services to them in ways they’ll remember. This will be particular to your target guest research, but here are a few ideas to kick your creativity into high gear:
- Add a golf simulator to help a property attract more business travelers.
- Elevate your hotel business center offerings by offering flexible work areas in the lobby and dedicated coffee service for impromptu meetings. This will help draw the attention of corporate planners.
- For city properties, reach out to a bike-share company and ask if they can set up a station nearby, or offer bikes on a first-come-first-serve basis.
- Offer in-room essential oils and diffusers. A welcome amenity if you discover your hotel is a weekend-away sanctuary for professionals and parents alike.
- Weeknight cooking classes. Target business travelers with a package that includes a cooking class with a local chef. They don’t have to worry about finding a good restaurant, and they’ll learn an easy weeknight meal.
- Refresh a large event room with compelling architectural elements and modern decor. Today’s corporate and social event planners want more than cookie-cutter rectangular rooms with chandeliers. The room itself should be an event experience.
3. Prioritize speed and strategy in your RFP responses
Event planners say hotels win more business when they meet RFP response deadlines, and those responses are accurate. Attract group business and build relationships with planners when you improve on these two fronts.
Improve RFP-response speed:
- Fine-tune your lead scoring. You provide the criteria your hospitality software uses for lead scoring—make sure you update that information regularly. For example, you should review bookings for the previous year to uncover slow weeks. Prioritize those dates for medium and large-scale events. Or, you can give priority to RFPs that seek room blocks and multiple venues.
- Automate alternative date searches. When a planner’s first event date choice isn’t available at your property, automation ensures you know whether any of their alternate dates work. Without automation, you have to manually check calendars and discuss with your team—a process that can eat up valuable time and lose group bookings.
- Respond to strong leads within minutes. Your venue sales team should be prepared to respond to high-scoring leads fast and effectively. This means having RFP response templates at the ready for priority event types, and even having auto-fill responses for common the most common queries.
Improve information accuracy:
- Use RFP response templates. Regularly update your templates so all of the information, from venue capacity to A/V availability, is entirely accurate.
- Clarify extra costs and add-ons. Be fully transparent in your pricing. If you aren’t, you will quickly lose the trust of planners.
- Respond to custom questions. These are specific requests for information added to digital RFPs—that means they are essential for the event in question. Make sure you answer the question honestly, whether it’s about connected room blocks or the availability of an on-site meeting concierge.
4. Reach the right planners through the right marketing channels
To increase your venue and group bookings, you need to get in front of corporate and event planners. Use these key strategies to make sure planners find you and know at a glance that your venue meets their requirements:
Create a mobile-friendly event website to increase direct bookings.
Events are an essential revenue stream and require a dedicated website, where planners aren’t distracted by copy targeted to vacationers and solo travelers. A venue microsite shares the need-to-know details planners want and makes sending an eRFP easy with auto-fill forms. Mobile-ready sites are a must for on-the-fly event professionals.
Target your hotel email newsletter content to planners.
Not every newsletter needs to have an event focus, but your email calendar should include a meeting focus regularly. Develop content that demonstrates your focus on group business, whether it’s a profile of a planner who appreciated your event support or introducing your hotel’s modernized coworking space.
Optimize your sourcing platform listing.
Include keywords that make your property stand out from competitors, and the more specific, the better. (“Colorado event venue with a mountain view” rather than just “Colorado event venue.”) Your venue profile should also include stunning photos, 3D floorplan renderings for various event types, occupancy rates, and menus.
5. Improve the client experience (and RevPAR) through automation
Hotel guests and event planners appreciate automation that streamlines previously slow touchpoints and shares vital communications. When used strategically (and not at the expense of personalization), automated interactions can help boost RevPAR by generating loyalty and upsells. Here’s how:
- Remote room entry. Tired business travelers appreciate skipping the check-in desk when they arrive at a busy time.
- Green automation. Guests want eco-friendly hotel features. Demonstrate your efforts to lower your carbon footprint with environmentally friendly automation, such as motion sensor lights and HVAC systems.
- Automated confirmation emails. These make it simple to send special offers personalized to different customer segments. For example, you can schedule a spa discount offer for attendees of a high-stress sales meeting or an outing to a local tourist attraction for families, including door-to-door transportation.
6. Keep tabs on your competing hotel properties
Competitive set (comp set) research and reports are essential to effective hotel revenue management. They track the overall performance, room rates, pending upgrades, and amenities of your key competitors.
Historically, comp set research took place every five years. But market competition is so fierce today, hotels often conduct them annually (or even more often) to improve differentiators. If it’s been a year since your last comp set, it’s time to make it a priority. Here are the key steps to take:
1. Redefine your competition.
Since your last comp set, your competitors may have shifted their amenities, offerings, and target customer base. Has a primary competitor added luxury amenities that you don’t plan to add? They are no longer a key competitor. Has a nondescript hotel in your area rebranded as a hip destination for business travelers? If your property targets group business, they are the new competitors on the block.
2. Research competitor offerings on Google and OTAs.
Put on your Sherlock Holmes hat and gather as many specifics as you can about room amenities, year-round service offerings, and seasonal offerings. Look for repeat complaints and compliments on review sites—these can highlight opportunities to outshine competitors and areas you need to improve.
3. Explore event and group booking activity.
Events and group bookings are lucrative. Are your competitors’ venues booked twelve months a year while you have a slow month or two? Explore their social media and digital marketing campaigns. They may have fostered engagement among regional event planners. Check out their website. Does it make a better case for events in the off-season?
7. Excite local businesses and residents about your brand
Develop relationships with local businesses, convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs), Chambers of Commerce, tourism boards, business groups, and even residents. This can generate good will and word-of-mouth marketing—a powerful channel that builds brand loyalty, buzz, and long-term business for your properties. Connect locally by:
- Offering event space to neighboring companies and civic groups at a discount during your quiet season.
- Hosting a local business meet and greet.
- Offering a one-time spa discount to residents in your home county.
- Sharing marketing materials and your website link with local CVBs and tourism boards.
- Inviting local acoustic musicians to perform in the bar on weekends and advertising to the local community, as well as your guests.
The best hoteliers are always on the lookout for ways to improve their hotel revenue management. Use these strategies to increase your RevPAR and boost your incremental revenue.