I have always deemed that PMS should be the heart of all strategic hotel sales activities.
I have always struggled to make recording correctly all the information: revenues, bed nights, market segments, the channel and then the CRM with all the contracts entered and automated. It was important that reservations were inserted correctly so that they returned correct data on which to make projections, forecasting, budgets, and inventory management and distribution strategies.
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When I started doing Revenue Management (in 2005) the market segmentation was a sufficient measure of analysis to basically distinguish customer with dynamic rates and negotiated ones, the contingent groups from the individuals, and some other specification. Based on this distinction, I could record the demand elasticity (bookings at negotiated rate did not have the same weight as a those at BAR rate), the advance and the behavior (for the allotment of a Congress we need to calculate the percentage of the materialization, indeed for the transient we need to consider the incremental demand) and with this I built a forecast and a minimum sales rate.
It was therefore essential that the PMS was the center of all information and it was there that the marketing and sales activities had to be registered at the cost of the tool not being complete. The alternative was the interface, but they were not always accessible or functional.
The ideal was that the channel manager was integrated into the PMS so that the rates entered were updated for the booking managers and reception managers who, simultaneously with the consultation of availability and rates, could insert a reservation on offer (to be converted into a booking at a later time) and generate a quote.
Over time, however, I realized that the facets of a reservation were different, and I began to see different segmentations to implement different strategies. In addition to a classic market segmentation, I began to draw different labels, according to what the PMS offered me, changing the items, making them give different meanings from those for which they were designed, especially if these were not useful to me. If, for example, the Origin or Source field was not even easily traceable, I used it to identify the type of customer by company (families / couples / singles) or by historicity (new / historical / Repeater)
But does it still make sense to focus only on the type of acquired customer? No and it has been evident for many years, but what was missing to make a paradigm shift and finally dive into the fabulous world of big data, in my opinion, were three reasons.
First: Data organicity. What you find on Google Analytics is not the same as what you find on OLTA extranets, just as what you find on CRM is not the same as what you find on business intelligence; and everything is always partial, focusing above all on the assumption that “not everything goes through the Web” (perhaps).
Second: the procedures. It is important not to duplicate the information containers, because if we have to keep an information updated on more than one place, it will certainly not be updated in any of these and therefore not very reliable.
Third: courage. To abandon old habits to new ones.
Therefore, here is, according to some essential steps, a roadmap that can lead us out of what may today appear as an impasse.
We divert the registration of reservations from the PMS to web based tools. Today there are several solutions provided by booking engines, CRM or simple quote generators. If we catalyse all the booking activities on these tools (including FIT and group bookings), we will have the possibility to register all the offline traffic on the Analytics of the Booking Engine or the website. The analytical potential will grow exponentially.
By abandoning your PMS, the analysis metrics will change and you will be able to make assessments that go beyond the acquired customers: marketing and revenue management will merge into a logic where the customer is at the center of the analysis, acquisition and satisfaction objective. A PMS hardly integrates with the data provided by an evolved CRM and represents a dead end. Instead, by recording the booking data in the manner described above, we will have the constant temperature of the marketing activities from a Revenue Management perspective.
In recent decades, the role of OLTA in bringing travelers from all over the world closer to the most remote destination has certainly been crucial. Who knew how to ride the wave with shrewdness has achieved important results but today the effects of the pandemic risk turning that surfboard into a dead trunk at the mercy of the waves. Google has given strong signals by introducing new marketing tools to those who know how to use them: the Property Promotion ads and the Free Hotel Booking Link. The various lockdowns have given a further boost to digitalization and social communication and related investments. In recent years, various digital marketing solutions for the tourism sector have established themselves, which directly intercept hot customers and stimulate the call to action with persuasive messages.
We do not want to talk about intermediation or disintermediation here, it would be an easily populist argument; to OLTA, as to traditional Tour Operators and Wholesalers, we wish long life and that they bring an increasing number of tourists to the accommodation facilities and the analysis of the acquisition costs are much more complex issues than the simple commission to the portals. What we want to highlight is that the ways to increase volumes and margins are changing and this time, being caught unprepared is no longer justifiable.