In the first part of our series, we looked at 6 ways revenue managers can use data to make their hotel smarter.
However, a revenue manager’s job is bigger than data. After all, “decisions need to be 90% data and 10% knowledge” – that’s practically the motto for revenue managers!
A good RM’s skill set is constantly evolving and expanding, and it goes beyond data alone. There are many areas of hotel operations that aren’t data-centric, but where a revenue manager’s input is essential. Many of these are areas that directly affect your customers.
What are those areas? We examine 5 below. This isn’t an exhaustive guide, but it gives you the overview you need to make sure your hotel is on the right track. Let’s dive in:
5 customer concerns revenue managers need to address:
1. What’s available to book?
There must be a fair portion of inventory loaded to each channel. If you are only loading 10% of your inventory to your brand site, don’t be too surprised when you figure out that that level of inventory is not enough to cover the given searches on a date for guests going through the booking process.
For example, say you have 5 rooms loaded to your brand site. If you get 100 searches a day, you are unavoidably going to get some searches coming back for guests as No Availability when over 5 searches are happening at the same time. This inevitably causes fewer bookings, and might lead to dissatisfied guests abandoning the idea of booking your hotel entirely. Loading availability that’s on par with your search volume is the way to avoid this.
2. What’s the price?
There are two important factors to consider here:
- Are you priced correctly for the market you’re in and for your value proposition?
- Is there rate disparity across the different channels you’re on? If the price is lower on other sites, driving bookings through your brand site becomes much, much more difficult. For an examination into rate disparity, what causes it and what hoteliers can do to manage it, check out this article.
3. What people are saying about you
Good reviews are vital. If the reviews aren’t good, you can do all the work in the world, but the leisure guest simply will not stay. This study shows that review sentiment is the number one factor influencing travel decisions, when accounting for amenities and location.
Online reputation management must factor into your strategy. What are you doing to solicit positive reviews from your guests? Are you addressing repeated concerns from negative reviewers?
Make sure you have a strategy in place to deal with negative reviews politely, helpfully and non-confrontationally. Also, when repeated concerns do crop up, create an actionable plan to prevent that concern from being raised in the future.
Examine your reviews in aggregate. How often do you receive them? Is your strategy to solicit positive reviews working? Are those positive reviews leading to bookings from the channels they appear on?
Tip: Make sure reviews appear on your brand site. Social proof has been proven to improve conversions, and guests almost always read reviews before booking. If they find them on your site, they won’t need to look elsewhere!
4. Inadequate investment
You cannot put all your investment into the physical hotel and little into the virtual hotel. The reality is that the online space is now vital to driving business – there’s no way around it.
There needs to be a substantial and consistent investment in your website and marketing spend to achieve results. A ten year old website without marketing campaigns and a social presence is, unfortunately, little more than a placeholder. If you’re not doing it already, ensure your hotel is investing adequately in your digital presence.
Make sure you have a strategy for your online channels, and that you’re actively researching and investing in the ones that the data tells you are the most profitable for your hotel.
5. Compelling reasons to book directly on your brand website:
If you want to drive direct bookings, there must be a unique benefit to booking direct. Think beyond a list of 10 pedestrian items that, in most case, aren’t even unique to booking on the hotel site!
It’s also important to note that there is a difference between a hotel’s USPs and book direct USPs.
If you can sell the consumer on one compelling reason to book directly on the brand site – one item they cannot get anywhere else – then you are getting somewhere.
Here are a few examples of compelling reasons to book direct:
- Something unique to your property
- Free breakfast
- Early or late check in
- Free item on arrival
- Free upgrade
- Access to a lounge, club, spa etc.
They day is only so long, and spending your time efficiently is key to ensuring you have the actual time to look past the spreadsheets.
Echoing our closing from part 1 in our series, the use of software applications are key to enabling you to achieve so much more with your time. When you’ve automated time-consuming but vital processes for your hotel, you have the time to pay attention to the little details and tweak the strategies that lead you to real success.