NB: This is a viewpoint by Pamela Whitby, editor of EyeForTravel.
There is really only one thing that hotel people need to remember: that they are in the service business.
“We are the hospitality industry lest we forget,” says Josh Henegar, corporate revenue director for 1859 Historic Hotels, a 12-property chain, “and there are just so many opportunities to take care of people at every turn at every single touch point”.
What Henegar also believes is that all other decisions – be they marketing objectives, revenue management goals, distribution dilemmas, sales objectives and so on – must flow from this understanding.
He is, of course, talking about the innovations around total revenue management, where every guest interaction becomes an opportunity.
“Today, all the silos within the organisation have to understand that it is about managing total revenues,” he says. “However, this isn’t so easy in a world where the goals of the individual sales director may be different from the goals of the hotel owner, which are different from the goals of the management company.”
A good starting point, says Angie Dobney, vice president of pricing and revenue management services for the Rainmaker Group, is to get to grips with the buying behaviours of all segments and channels of business.
“Especially group-wide! If you have not sat down with someone in sales in your organisation to understand what they do every day, you should!”
To achieve this requires a healthy and patient operations team that is willing to sit down weekly and hear each other out. Henegar believes there may even be a need to rethink bonus and incentivisation structures.
Art and RM
Choosing the right people or partners and tracking, managing and acting on data (while staying on top of all aspects of traditional revenue management such as managing rates, yielding, forecasting, visibility etc) remains crucial in today’s hotel environment.
But for Henegar, it’s also about understanding the less tangible things.
It may not be what hoteliers nor revenues managers want to hear but “there is an artistic element to some of these things that cannot be measured using a quantifiable metric”.
What he does know, however, is that simple changes can yield results. For example, take an offer that is aesthetically inadequate, with a dated font, misspelt text, poor quality images and dull colours. Then, polish it up with sharper fonts, ‘less-is-more’ text, great photos and colours that coincide with the brand offering.
Says Henegar: “How you measure this? Well yes, it’s tough, but I feel pretty confident that a quantifiable metric would be there”.
Indeed, everything from typography to images, text and colour tells a story and reinforces the brand. This has a resonance far beyond maximizing revenue on any given day, at the right time, at the right price or in the right channel.
To app or not to app
One important decision that 1859 will take soon is to choose a partner for mobile communication, something that is directly tied to the hot topic of ancillary revenues.
The group has been considering two important questions:
- Do our guests really want to download an app?
- Do they really want to opt in for SMS messaging?
For Henegar, the answer is: “kind of no but on the other hand it is a real service opportunity that will ultimately lead to ancillary revenues”.