Not so long ago reservations from electronic channels - principally the global distribution systems - arrived routinely. The process was one of rip and re-enter - typing bookings in the hotel's property management system or in the manual future reservations file. Weekday and weekend rates changed once a season, hotel availability was open or closed. Terms like rate parity, channel management, last room availability and best available rate (BAR) were not in our professional vocabulary.
Fast forward to the present and the world of hotel inventory management and pricing optimization is a much different place. The most senior staff at the property is now closely involved in distribution and pricing decisions, the brand or hotel website is the preferred reservation creation venue, but it battles for users with online travel agencies. Competitive rate shopping services and adoption of revenue management techniques (and sometimes revenue management technology) prompt near-continuous examination and frequent adjustment of each day's room rates. New sales outlets, many within the social media universe, demand evaluation and the investment of time, money or both.
In the midst of all of these options, activities and unrelenting performance pressure, hotel reservations and revenue staff still need to make decisions, fill rooms and meet their property performance goals. In this operating environment with its pervasive sense of urgency the objective I suggest, is fundamentally to strike a balance between the innumerable opportunities and the need to successfully control the hotel's core asset - its guestroom inventory. In essence the balance is between opportunities on the one hand and control on the other.
Opportunity comes in innumerable, ever changing and not necessarily "hotel friendly" forms. Opportunities demand identification, evaluation and selective use. One day's successful opportunities adoption might not be productive the next month, or even the very next day.
A Social Media Success:In the New Mexico Las Conchas wildfires of 2011, residents north of Santa Fe had less than an hour to evacuate their homes and find shelter for their families, pets and whatever personal items they had time to take with them. Three local Heritage Hotels & Resorts brand properties (Hotel St. Francis, Hotel Chimayo and the Lodge at Santa Fe) rapidly responded to their distressed neighbors through social media.
Travel Review Sites: Heritage Hotels & Resorts has learned to adapt to a variety of transitory channels, including travel review websites such as the dominating, loud-mouth traveler's resource TripAdvisor. With reviews submitted in an honest, opinionated and unedited style, consumers are in control of a brand's reputation.
Keeping it Fresh at Heritage Hotels: Vice President of Revenue Strategies for Heritage Hotels & Resorts Kathleen Cullen understands the value of assigning attention to productive reservation channels. When she was hired almost two years ago, she became the driving force behind ensuring that the brand's property information was consistently and continuously refreshed on online travel agencies (OTA) websites.
About John Burnes
John Burns is the president of Hospitality Technology Consulting. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.