6 insights to help hotel revenue managers balance a mobile act

In the rapidly changing mobile world of revenue management, teams need tips to survive. We went in search of answers and this is what we found

1.  RM has come a long way

While RM most certainly still involves all the traditional stuff - managing rates, visibility, forecasting, yielding and so on – today it bleeds into a number of different areas from marketing to design, distribution and technology and HR. Today it’s about total revenue management and thinking holistically about what is being said about the brand, about individual properties, about the type of offerings on any given day an in every channel. “Everything from typography to the images we choose tells the story and reinforces our brand. It goes far beyond maximizing revenue on any given day at the right time at the right price and in the right channel,” says Josh Henegar, Corporate Revenue Director, 1859 Historic Hotels.

2.  Not everything is tangible

It may not be what most hoteliers, and certainly not what revenue managers want to hear but Henegar says “there is an artistic element to some things that cannot be measured using a quantifiable metric”. What he does know, however, is that simple changes, though difficult to measure, can yield results. If, for example, you take an offer that is aesthetically inadequate, with a dated font, misspelt text, poor quality images and dull colours. Then you polish that up with sharp looking font, ‘less-is-more’ text, great photos and colours that coincide with the brand offering.  Tough to measure the success of this, yes! But Henegar feels pretty confident that there will be a quantifiable metric. In essence, what it looks and feels like impacts booking decisions.

3.  Mobile should be central to your service offering

There are no if’s or but’s about whether hotels should invest in mobile. But today the big question, and the polarising debate, is whether to invest in a native app or not. Drew Patterson, CEO and founder of mobile technology firm, Checkmate, says it would be a wonderful world if apps worked for hotels but the reality is that “it’s hard to compete in the app economy”.

It’s hard to compete in the app economy

Checkmate, CEO and founder, Drew Patterson

This is particularly true for smaller chains and independents. But even if you are Hilton, where a native app does work, this should be just one part of a wider mobile strategy. Patterson advocates a strategy that allows hotels to connect with customers across multiple mobile channels – everything from the mobile web to email, notification services like Google Now, Apple Passbook and of course, SMS. 

This diagram explains why.

4.  Bundling service to a hotel loyalty programme is missing the boat

What the airlines and the new service driven players, like Uber and Airbnb, have understood is the need to tie mobile intricately into service delivery. In the airline space, frequent fliers will benefit from early upgrades, early boarding and so on but everybody can do mobile check-in or track their baggage. That communication and information offering is core to their brand.

So, while it’s absolutely right and logical to treat high value, profitable and loyal customers differently, it isn’t to tie basic communication and information services to loyalty programmes. “Hotels that do are kind of missing the boat,” says Patterson. It just doesn’t make sense for a customer to have to download the app in order to be able to ‘chat’ with the hotel.

5.  Mobile drives ancillary revenue but technology is just one piece of the puzzle

From beacon technologies to upgrades, buckets of beer or booking a cab, delivering a great service will not only delight guests it will also boost revenues. However, there is a lot of noise out there with new vendors proclaiming to solve problems or deliver new ways of doing business. This makes it hard to choose the right path. For Angie Dobney, Vice President of Pricing & Revenue Management Services, the Rainmaker Group it’s really important to focus on what is important to you and your organisation. “You do not have to be a part of everything that is new. Sometimes waiting to see if a new idea or concept will work is the best choice,” she says.    

6.  There is an elephant in the room

This is a challenge in most environments but and it starts with understanding how all the different silos have to function together. In an ideal world it starts by getting the right people but that doesn’t always work.

I think we can go a very long way if we were to see a deeper integration of the total revenue incentivized into each of the key players,’ he concludes


One of the elephants in the room, says Henegar, is that the difficulty in getting everybody to understand the importance of total revenue management, when sales people are tied to specific goals and targets. “What we don’t want to be doing is displacing other RM opportunities because we don’t want to hurt feelings or impede on a sales manager’s personal goals for that quarter,” says Henegar.

That’s not in the best interests of the entire hotel, and he wonders if a rethink of incentives could be in order. “I think we can go a very long way if we were to see a deeper integration of the total revenue incentivised into each of the key players,’ he concludes.

Join us for Smart Travel Analytics, North America Atlanta (Feb 1-2) to hear more from Josh Henegar and other trend-setting travel brands

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