Why revenue managers can’t rely on historical data

The U.K. and European market is one in constant flux. We’ve seen security threats in key locations such as Paris and Brussels, the drop in value of the pound, the forging of a new relationship between the U.K. and Europe, and an upturn in demand for Spanish beach resorts as tourists re-route from North Africa. Who could have predicted such upheaval in the market?

How can you navigate your hotel through such unpredictable challenges? How do you forecast future demand when business patterns are anything but uniform? How can you identify and capitalise on opportunity? How can you be strategic when history isn’t as relevant anymore?

I don’t have all the answers and I certainly can’t predict the future with 100% accuracy. However, if I can anticipate changes in demand when they materialise, and ideally before the competition, then I’ll take that.

Use forward looking data

In times of uncertainty, you have to look at other data sets. In order to be leveraged, these should be live, forward-looking and actionable. By which, I mean they should enhance the measurement of demand.

Many hotels forecasting for two seemingly comparable days with the same occupancies on the books would price those days similarly. Yet, if you add live conversion data to this (regrets and denials), you will quickly realize that the two days that look identical often have vastly different conversion patterns, and should be priced differently. This is especially useful when optimizing unconstrained dates and/or long lead times, where going for the optimal pickup curve very much depends on your ability to measure elasticity.

Anyone can do a pivot table on the countries that buy, but if you don’t have the regrets and denials then you don’t have the ability to target the countries that didn’t convert, meaning you lose out on rate, occupancy or both. Use your regrets and denials data and adjust your prices when needed to target the countries that have been looking to book but did not get to the conversion. Suddenly, you have a bigger chunk of the pie. And for London hotels following recent currency trends, that is a pie that just became a whole lot richer.

Also look at airport data. People book their flights before they book their hotel room, so this is another indication of what inbound demand is around the corner.

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