Getting the highest possible rates from various booking channels still requires some human interaction, as well as continuing to educate a hotel’s revenue-management team and its front office, sources said.
What’s your strategy for getting the highest possible rates?
Chris Cheney, VP of hotel performance and analytics, Stonebridge Companies:
“Really focus on the booking window and the pricing power you have within each booking window. Thirty days out, you don’t have the same price elasticity as three days out. There are very different purchasing behaviors and different strategies deployed. Often consumer behavior is ignored when making pricing decisions and instead (revenue managers) look at how other hotels are priced.”
Eric Gravelle, VP of revenue management, North America, Diamond Resorts:
“Working with the various OTAs is a partnership. We have found the best way to maximize revenue potential is by building an individual relationship with the market managers. With this in place, it is easier to be remembered and included in targeted promotions and initiatives. This will then help increase your placement and exposure. My team knows that OTA does not mean cheap.”
Tina Meredith, VP of portfolio revenue strategies, PM Hotel Group:
“It is crucial for our front-office teams to be part of the revenue-management process when it comes to property-direct bookings. In today’s world, even though most hotels do not have on-site reservation departments … education for the front-desk team about upgraded room types, different package offerings and how to resist price-fading all play an important role in ensuring we consistently achieve the highest possible rates. How our hotels set their rate strategies, whether it be for day of or advance bookings, will always be based on demand in the market, among other factors. However, converting those property-direct calls to actual reservations at quality rates is directly linked to ongoing education and communication with our associates.”
Meredith: “Group rate strategy needs to encompass several key factors to support achieving the highest possible rates. Our sales and revenue-management leaders use a multi-prolonged approach to accomplish this. It starts with being knowledgeable about the compression and demand periods in the market, which allows us to set retail, and therefore, group strategies appropriately. … Our hotels are also focused on selling retail and group rates by room type. This allows for higher group rates on the most demand room types. Additionally, minimal accepted group rates are adjusted on a regular basis in the sales system, adjusted for changes in group pace and evolving market conditions.”
Helga Buszta, VP of revenue management, Filament Hospitality:
“Wholesale is very relationship-heavy. It’s very much old-school sales. For me, a lot of this comes down to knowledge. Speak to your partners to get to know their customers and stay on top of how their customers mix and (how) feeder markets are changing.”
Monte Gardiner, managing director, revenue management services, Best Western Hotels & Resorts:
“A strong brand ambassador who can guide the transaction is key. Consumers are more likely to buy and spend more when dealing with an individual who is considerate, empathetic and personable—making the human connection and customer relationship a critical element. Beyond that, the representative must be able to present our product in the best possible light. It is essential that they are well-versed on the value proposition of each brand, individual properties and key amenities. The most important asset in driving the highest possible rates from voice channel bookings is a well-informed brand ambassador who can connect with the customer.”