In the last part of our 3 part series, we look at 6 factors that get in the way of a revenue manager’s data-driven decision making. Data-killers don’t always look dramatic or drastic – in fact, they’re often part of your everyday routine.
Those day to day decisions in the hotel are probably having a bigger influence on revenue success than you might think.
This isn’t an exhaustive guide, but it gives you a good look at the factors that can lead to decisions which spell disaster! Don’t let your hotel’s revenue management strategy be decided on a whim, or out of simple convenience.
For a look at all the ways Revenue Managers get it right, check out the first and second parts of our series, 6 Ways Revenue Managers Use Data to Make Their Hotel Smarter and 5 Customer Concerns Revenue Managers Need to Address.
Here’s the flip side of all that organization and logic: the reasons that revenue managers, general managers and others start ignoring the data and making decisions based on other, less profitable factors.
Make a note of these factors, and try to be conscious of them when you’re making big decisions!
6 Factors that Kill Data-Driven Decision Making
1. The Path of Least Resistance
When time is short, it’s easy to default to a quick fix. However, short term benefits tend to be just that – short. Unless it’s an emergency, resist the urge to take the shortcut and stick to what the data recommends.
2. Other Voices
Your team might be fantastic, completely on board with your carefully-crafted revenue strategy and in full understanding that you’re all working towards the same goal. However, there may be miscommunication or hesitations that aren’t so productive.
For example, a financial controller may look at marketing spend and commission as items that can be reduced, while you feel the data shows that every dollar is counting towards bookings. A general manager may be more focused on ‘filling the hotel’ than focusing on any particular channel, and may encourage you falter on your rate strategy – be strong!
It may seem easier to concede, in the interest of not creating more work for yourself or keeping work relationships tension-free. However, you have got to fight your corner if you feel your goals are worthwhile.
3. The Grass is Always Greener
Just because the hotel down the road is dumping rates, don’t follow them! Their strategy might be working for them for reasons you aren’t party to, or their strategy might be based on poor data or short-term gains. There’s no way for you to know, so stick to what you know your own best strategy is.
This also goes for facilities: if a competitor has a facility your hotel doesn’t, that doesn’t make them better. You can count on the fact that they’re looking at your hotel with envy as well!
Here’s a good article about reasons bad revenue managers rely too heavily on information from their competitor set, and how that can hurt your hotel.
4. Sentiment, or “Following Your Gut”
This is never a productive or profitable way to make a decision about your revenue strategy. There’s a difference between what your first impulse might be and experience based on facts. Make sure, even if you’ve been in the industry for twenty years, that you’re letting the data guide you – not your instincts.
5. Negative approach
Sitting back and thinking “It won’t work” without looking at all the relevant facts is a recipe for failure.
Things change, and your guests want different things. A tariff you trialed for 2 weeks a few years ago with little promotion might not have succeeded. However, that does not mean that with the right approach you can’t have a success the second time around!
When things go wrong, look at how and why they went wrong – and don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater when you start over.
6. Operational reasons
Data not recorded accurately:
Ever picked ‘other’ as a source on a booking?
So have we all! However, if you are not set up to accurately record the source of all online and offline bookings, your strategy is sunk before you begin.
Don’t assume you know how a source is performing. The default response from many hotels when brand bookings are down is to say the phones are busy. However, often, there is little quantifying of what percentage of booking the phone actually accounts for, and the time taken per booking on a phone call.
Decisions being made due to pressure from other departments:
This might look like a few different things. For example:
- Room-only rates might not be offered, because the restaurant needs to get their gross profit.
- Pre-pay offers are being labelled excessively, with the restrictions of the rate plan as the focus, as per the reception team’s request.
- Guests are being asked to give a postal address at the time of booking so reception doesn’t have to fill it in on check in. If you’re doing this, you’re asking the consumer for more information at a point in the booking where your only goal should be driving the guest to complete the booking by keeping it simple.
- You’re forcing guests to fill in dinner times at the time of booking. Again, this is done to make life easier for the restaurant, but not everyone knows the time of dinner weeks before they are due to arrive!
The bottom line? Don’t put unnecessary pressure on your guests when it’s easy enough to take it on yourself.
No matter how tempting it is to follow the path of least resistance or take a shortcut, hold onto your data. Use what your knowledge tells you to make the right decisions, and to give you the confidence to stick to those decisions.
In the previous articles in this series, we’ve discussed the importance of investing in software applications. Software is a tool to facilitate the right decisions. However, there’s one more thing that’s even more important to invest in than your software: your revenue manager.
Revenue managers hold the keys to the money. There needs to be serious and ongoing investment in them to keep their skill set growing and their knowledge ahead of the curve. How else can decisions be made based on the right criteria?