Marcus Hotels & Resorts is a nationally recognized hotel owner and management company and has a rich history of success and extraordinary service.
NB: This is an article from Roomdex, one of our Expert Partners
Starting in 1962 with the auction purchase of the Pfister Hotel, the company’s portfolio has grown to 19 properties, comprising of city-center meeting hotels, upscale resorts and branded first-class hotels. A core asset of the portfolio is the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, a 385 room, award-wining all-seasons resort set on 1,300 acres in the legendary southeastern Wisconsin community of Lake Geneva.
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Like the rest of the industry, over the past 18 months the hotel has faced both short-term and long-run challenges – from reductions in occupancy to uneven patterns of demand. While the shape of recovery remains somewhat varied globally, it hasn’t stopped Grand Geneva from investing in new technologies. In the last 12 months they upgraded their PMS – and activated ROOMDEX. We caught up with Tim Kayser, Area Director of Revenue Management at Grand Geneva Resort and Spa to find out how the integration of ROOMDEX’s upgrade and upselling platform is working out as the industry continues to navigate its way through the pandemic.
What was the original motivation, decision, to select room ROOMDEX?
Our CTO, Marcus Hotels & Resorts, Rajiv Castellino, was the person who really spearheaded the effort. One of the main motivations for selecting ROOMDEX, was the fact that we knew it would integrate very well with Opera, which is the Property Management System (PMS) at the majority of our unbranded properties.
How long have you have been working with ROOMDEX at your hotel?
We converted to a new hosting provider in August, since April 2021 we have been using ROOMDEX.
How has it been performing for you?
It performs very well. ROOMDEX is very good at being able to go and check for availability and the algorithm prices things appropriately. Really, the biggest issue we had with upselling were COVID-related issues. We were able to work through those issues with the ROOMDEX team to maximize our offerings and revenues.
I assume that prior to ROOMDEX, you were operating with, what we would call, standard, front desk upselling?
Absolutely. The front office and reservations departments were good at upselling and doing that type of thing. One of the main things that I like about ROOMDEX is that it’s consistent. We hit every customer with an offer. Business volume at the front desk and in the reservations office can make it difficult to make an offer to every guest. Whereas now it’s very consistent – more guests get the opportunity to request early arrivals and suite upgrades. And now we’re rolling out ROOMDEX’s new guest services and amenity upselling, which I think is going to be very popular at the resort.
Let’s talk about stay extensions – early arrival, late departure. Were you “monetizing” that prior to ROOMDEX?
No, not as well as we are now. That’s another great thing about ROOMDEX. Stay extensions are something that have always been in demand, but we didn’t really have a good vehicle to be able to capture that revenue or even be able to monitor the demand we had for it. We knew many guests would request it, we get emails from OTA guests requesting to check-in early and check out late. Now we have a good process to manage the requests.
As a revenue manager, obviously yielding your rooms is how you play the game. Did you have any kind of system for dynamic pricing when you did upselling prior to ROOMDEX?
It wasn’t really dynamic, it was more of a flat fee. ROOMDEX has allowed us to tier the early arrival and late departure requests. We can also manage the tiers based on business volume. It was a flat fee, not dynamic, and it did not increase when we knew there was extra demand – ROOMDEX does do a very good job at that. It is able to capture where the real demand is and able to push the rate when we can.
So, it’s a little bit more in line with your standard revenue management practices.
Absolutely – supply and demand.
Have you seen a market improvement in overall revenue uptake over not using anything at all?
Yes. Like I said, I think the fact that not only are we consistent, the algorithms that ROOMDEXs supplies allows us to maximize on those numbers. We’re running much higher upgrade fee and early-in and late-out fees than we ran prior to ROOMDEX.
Have you been able to say to the front desk, “Hey, don’t worry about it – we’ve already run upgrades” or are they also pushing upgrades?
Yes, they will push as well, but now they can see if a guest has already accepted a ROOMDEX offer. If there’s somebody who hasn’t, they can certainly do it.
How did configuration and then set up go?
That was very smooth. It’s really a pretty easy system. It’s great that the ROOMDEX team could go in and see what was in Opera. They see our rates, they see our room types, they see the features – all of that. We just had to go in there and define – “this room has these features and this room has those features” – that type of thing, but it was all very easy for a 385 room property, it literally took a couple hours.
What about like ongoing effort and labor? How much do you have to go back in there and tweak or massage it?
As we operationally work through changes in our business environment, it has been easy to work with ROOMDEX to adjust offerings based on our ability to provide high-level service and still accommodate requests. But really, Jos’s team is great. When our Director of Rooms contacts them and says, “Hey we can’t offer 10:00am early arrivals, but we can offer the noon and the 2pm”. ROOMDEX automatically is restricting that for certain ranges or maybe it’s just on Saturdays, that type of thing. ROOMDEX is very flexible in that way, it works well.
From a revenue manager’s point of view, what is the thing you like best about ROOMDEX?
Ease of setup, the flexibility once you have things configured. I think the algorithms are great. ROOMDEX is able to capture demand and anticipate demand better than any other product we explored. And the other thing is the pricing model for ROOMDEX is better. It’s a flat fee and the ROOMDEX team is consistently suggesting ways to offer more options to our guests.
Are there’s any plans for more hotels to join the ROOMDEX family?
Yes, there is. We have ROOMDEX running in the Grand Geneva Resort and The Pfister Hotel, The Garland and The Saint Kate Hotel.