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How hotels can effectively restrategize during pandemic 

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The global pandemic has really changed the way the world works at present. While the tourism sector’s numbers seemed promising prior COVID-19, the strategies in flattening the curve such as community quarantine, social distancing protocols, and mobility limitations created restrictions that challenged the operations of the hospitality industry.

In a webinar recently conducted by Enderun Hotels entitled, “A Pragmatic Approach to Hotel Revenue Management”, participated by thought leaders and key industry experts, it was discussed how hoteliers and hotel managers can effectively deal with revenue management solutions, apply the best strategies for success, and improve revenue streams for business recovery.

Matters on optimizing revenue entail that hotel operations have tried to manage their rates dynamically. “However, they are often hampered by inconsistency in the application of the very basic principles or simply lack the dedicated personnel to look after room rate frequently if not daily”, according to Thomas Wenger, Senior Vice President of Enderun Hotels.

He added, “Getting the best rates also means being competitive [and] being able to put your best foot forward for any business you may pitch for. But it also means being able to maximize and take opportunities to raise prices and optimize revenues if and when possible and when the business level allows it.”

Successful pricing of room rates results in competitive advantages. Ultimately higher occupancy should also increase the hotel’s ancillary revenues throughout the operations and boost their profit line. “This might be a very simple concept but often quite difficult to implement throughout an operation.”

 

What is our focus?

“The most important thing about revenue management is we need to always understand that what we’re doing is we are selling services,” said Josefina Coleman, Director of Revenue Management of Hyatt Hotels Corporation and guest faculty of Enderun Colleges. Coleman emphasized that services are perishable. “What we cannot sell today, we cannot stock and sell tomorrow.”

To effectively maximize revenues, hotel properties should sell the correct product to the correct customer, at the correct price, through the correct channel, and at the correct time. By product itself, it does not only pertain to hotel rooms but also the services that come along with it.

Coleman also shared that it is always necessary to understand the customers, their segmentation, and their behavior. In addition, it is essential to maximize the price for a particular segment so each of the different types of clients will see different prices through different channels.

Likewise, to be very pragmatic, hotels should understand what the situation is in order to better prepare for the future. According to Erik Muñoz, Chief Commercial Officer of Lybra, “The rebound might take around 2.5 to 4 years based on different variables such as vaccine availability. If there is, will guests return to their usual travel behavior?” They should be able to identify and understand the impact of the return of demand.

To understand the speed of recovery, it is important to watch out for the signals available. “In revenue management, historical patterns used to give us a clue as to what might happen in the future. However, that’s not the case anymore,” Muñoz explained. “There are still lots of demand indicators which can be monitored so you are ready to react to every opportunity.”

 

What should we do for now?

From the data presented by Nika Indunan, Business Development Manager of Siteminder, she presented that currently, the booking volume in the Philippines is only at 19.75 percent which is a huge drop as compared to the same time last year. “The value is relatively low as compared to the global average but it is better than the previous months where the Philippines was only at 7 to 8 percent.” As of November 2020, domestic bookings comprise 83 percent of the total volume of business.

Indunan further explained, “The bulk of bookings made in the last two weeks are for stay in November and December which means that [the] lead time for bookings are quite short.” This signifies that properties need to have a more lenient cancellation policy in order to drive up demand. Also, it is vital to consider the border controls for each region or province because it changes anytime. “Guests want to be able to make last-minute changes to their bookings,” she added.

Destinations within driving distance will benefit from the last-minute demands. For island resorts, they might experience more difficulty in getting customers. However, they always have the luxury travel market. Indunan shared, “If you want the last minute demand, your online availability should always be updated to ensure that every last room you have is available for selling. It’s best to have a channel manager who’s connected to your front desk system or your property management system.”

 

How are we going to do it?

“Upselling is getting the guest to spend more money in your account by purchasing upgrades or any ancillary services that you may be providing. This not only allows you to generate incremental revenue, but if done correctly, this can also increase your overall guest experience”, according to Leo Tan, Co-Founder and Director of Technology of KAI.

Hotels can start upselling the moment guests are either booking or have arrived in the front desk to check-in. Most of the time, hotels are missing the pre-arrival part of the guest journey which is the most potential part of upselling. Tan added, “Hotels should be looking for upselling guests throughout the entire guest journey from pre-arrival to checkout. This is to truly capture all upsell opportunities and not leave any money on the table.”

Upselling are the ancillaries or extra services hotels can offer to the guests. It can be a room upgrade, complimentary F&B, transportation availability or an early check-in option. Basically, these are what guests look for so it’s essential for hotel managers to get creative with their upsell offers.

Hotels can upsell their guests either manually or with digital automation. As explained by Tan, properties can manually email their guests at one time to introduce upsell offers. On the other hand, they can also send personalized emails to their guests along with the right offers. They should also allow their guests to purchase upsell offers anytime and anywhere online.

 

Consider the silver lining.

Every single business can always optimize their strategies in a more efficient way. Hotel owners and managers should rethink current revenue strategies and refresh for the new normal. It is also necessary to start thinking strategically than before to find these opportunities.

“It’s not all dim and gloom absolutely. I always encourage hotel revenue managers to understand the different levels of the different processes they can apply based on technology that is available rather than being limited by [a] time consuming checklist of having to gather data from different reports and update them,” according to Muñoz.

For Coleman, “We need to stop, reevaluate, look into consumer behavior, and start thinking differently. By continuing the same strategies as before, we are not going to succeed.”

Enderun Hotels’ primary focus is to engage local independent hotel and restaurant owners and enable them to compete with the major players in the hospitality industry. As a hospitality management solutions provider, it delivers targeted solutions that boosts hotel operations, sales, marketing, and revenue management.

To learn more, please visit: https://enderunhotels.com/.


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