When potential guests arrive at your website, ensure that it is different from the dozens they’ve just visited. Focus your hotel’s online activities on data-driven decisions and make your website a haven of carefully-selected images, content and rate plans. No matter how chaotic the rapid changes in the industry may seem, revenue managers need to hold onto their minds and stick to the data. This includes the day to day data in the larger context of your hotel. By this, we mean putting it in the context of your segments and target markets, your hotel’s overall revenue strategy and your ultimate goals. Keep reading for the 6 most important ways to use data.
1. Net Gain per Channel
Instead of reviewing the demand for each channel, analyse the net gain for each channel. That’s simply the revenue from that channel, minus all costs associated with it (advertising costs, commissions, etc.) When you look at how much you get from each channel, you can only get a true sense of its value when you also understand how much you give to that channel. How much does each channel return when commission costs are accounted for? What’s the Average Daily Rate for the channel? You may be surprised to see it’s your brand site delivering that higher ADR! Do your own analysis and remember: numbers don’t lie.
2. Historical Data
Looking back helps you plan for the future. Analyse the spend and lifetime patterns of each channel to understand if they have steadily raised or lowered the amount of revenue they bring in, whether they have non-revenue benefits (like exposure) that outweigh costs and more. For example, let’s look at Deal Sites. Yes, the rate is low and the commission can be high- but the exposure is great! Exposure, however, doesn’t pay the bills.
You need to analyse the lifetime value of guests that came to you from deal sites. Did they book again? Did they spend more than guests from other channels? If you can justify that short term pain to reward you in the long term, then its worth doing. However, if you find that the majority of guests from deal sites do not stay again, or do not spend more while staying, it may not be worth your while.
3. Pace Reports
Now that we’ve looked at what you can gain from the past, let’s look to the future. Decisions on the best action to take must be based on hotel pace reports. A hotel pace report, or pick-up report, typically shows total rooms performance by market, putting the year in context. You can also create room type pace reports, week parts (weekday vs weekend) pace reports, and recurring events reports for things like New Year’s or a big local event.
Pace reports enable you to see your likely demand levels for the months ahead. Find ways to filter the data in ways that are the most useful to your hotel. Balance your own pace reports with industry pace reports. As we all know, you have to look further than your own front door to understand demand patterns.
4. Booking Windows
Looking at the average lead in time is important, but this does not account for outliers. Failing to look at outliers can be catastrophic- what if your average booking window for a certain day is 20, but, with outliers removed from the data set, it should really be 10? If you plan and execute a marketing campaign based on the wrong booking window, you’ll essentially be throwing money away. You need to look at each booking window: examine who is booking and what they’re booking in each window.
5. Channel Performance
There is a world of difference between booked and stayed business for some channels. You may be busily inputting or seeing bookings coming in from a particular channel, but they are not necessarily the ones producing the stays. This is where sentiment may become an issue. A channel might be perceived as being of the utmost importance because that channel is front and centre in someone’s mind, but the reality can be different. It all comes down to data.
Look at the booking lead in time for each channel’s cancellations. Is there a pattern of longer lead bookings having higher cancellation rates? If so, how do you deal with it? How do you engage the person still months from arrival? We suggest two ways: examining the cancellation pace and moving on from fixed overbooking policies.
Firstly, normally the pace report on bookings will exclude cancellations to give a real sense of demand. It’s important to look at the cancellation pace specifically so you can gauge the expected cancellations for a future date at any given point. Secondly, move on from the idea having a fixed over booking policy of a set percentage or a set number. There is a world of diffidence in being minus 20% on inventory 3 months out, versus 3 days out.
The remit of a Revenue Manager is ever-evolving and all encompassing. Be sure all major decisions are based on data. The accuracy and relevancy of the data you have will depend on the tools you have. Your hotel’s software applications need substantial and ongoing investment. Is your hotel ready for success?