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Placing the customer at the heart of revenue management

Friday January 13 2012

Hoteliers handle thousands of guests on a weekly basis. But Jérôme Destors, revenue management considers the experience from one hypothetical guest’s point of view, one situation, and one emerging future trend

Hoteliers handle thousands of guests on a weekly basis. But Jérôme Destors, revenue management considers the experience from one hypothetical guest’s point of view, one situation, and one emerging future trend

 

The hypothetical guest that Jérôme Destors, hotel IT director for Amadeus Hospitality Solutions, describes likes golf, Chinese food, and long drives on scenic roads. “On this guest’s next trip away, when he/she goes to book a hotel, wouldn’t it be nice if the booking system knew every preference?” he asked. “Instead of having to spend hours digging through online search results, the hotel could recommend guest golf courses, the best Chinese food, and nearby scenic routes. It could even offer the guest a link to a reputable car company with exactly the type of vehicles they tend to prefer.

 

“As a result, the guest feels more relaxed, more catered to, and generally more appreciated by the hotel.”

 

This, he said, produced a “win-win situation” all around. And it’s very much the way of the future, he explained.

 

Customisation delivers the smarts

 

Hotels today are using smart technology to predict the booking behaviours of customers. “These hotels analyse booking data and stay data in detail, using dynamic price management techniques that are more sophisticated than traditional revenue management tools,” Destors continued.

 

Such dynamic management techniques, which take into account both past data and advanced forecasting models to make intelligent rate and inventory recommendations, are the future – particularly where the guest is concerned. “This goes beyond revenue management, and beyond price management,” he added. “It becomes customer-centric revenue management, or a way of using smart technology to make guests happier.

 

“In turn, hoteliers can create better customer service and maximise profit. Logistically, hotels can draw on intelligent rate and inventory recommendations to maximise revenue contribution and increase profitability. Additionally, hotels can create bonds with customers through customer-specific recommendations, further strengthening the brand and overall profit.”

 

Such personalised revenue management systems are the way of the future, he said. A recent survey commissioned by global travel distribution systems provider Amadeus of 610 individuals from around the world indicated that 92% felt that by 2020, hotel guests will expect their stay to be personalised around a set of choices made at the time of booking or prior to arrival.

 

Scaling to meet customer expectations

 

Puneet Mahindroo, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces corporate director of revenue management and global distribution, recently stated: “The future of revenue management must be tied into gaining sustainable competitive advantage in our highly complex and diverse hotel business where the customer perception of value will be the king. Hoteliers will be required to focus on one consumer and their experience even when they serve 100 million consumers. In our opinion, the future vision of revenue management and distribution marketing is a day when each guest is a market segment of one and the access and availability of rates for a requested stay would depend on a guest's past history or forecasted future with the hotel or brand.”

 

Talk about customer-centric revenue management also acknowledges that revenue management is moving closer to marketing, Destors added. “In the same way marketing pervades an organisation and essentially sets its direction, so could and should customer-centric revenue management become integrated across a hotelier’s systems, throughout the distribution systems, from the point of sale through to aftersales follow-up. Greater customer insights, and the proliferation of new channels for interaction with those customers (such as email and social media), mean it is vital to offer guests the best possible individualised deals.

 

“It short, it means being able to recommend to your guest the best Chinese, the right golf course, the proper shooting range; it means using past data to predict future behaviours, while boosting your hotel’s revenue and strengthening your brand,” he concluded.