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Managing Hotel Revenue and Everything That Drives It.
By Neil Salerno – Hotel Marketing Coach
Tuesday, 2nd February 2010
 
Five considerations worth repeating -

I first started writing about revenue management in 2001 and, frankly, I haven't seen overall business conditions change too much since then; markets  are highly competitive and many hotels are still openly discounting rates to drive business.

I wish hoteliers would stop thinking that lowering your rates will sell more rooms and increase room revenue. That tactic may sell a few more rooms, but it rarely sells enough rooms to offset lowered rates. It's simple economics; simply selling more rooms increases expenses, while even slightly higher or flat rates increase profit. As occupancy demand increases, ADR should increase as well.

The tell-tale sign of a hotel-in-trouble is to see increases in occupancy and decreases in average rate and RevPar. A hotelier who understands and employs the tactics of revenue management monitors and adjusts rates in reaction to fluctuations in current and future occupancy demand.

For many hotel owners and managers, reducing rates is the lazy-man form of marketing. It's generally their first thought when sales are low; after-all, it takes very little thought and certainly very little research and/or effort. And, it also ignores the fact that people don't buy rate, they buy value. Sometimes, lower rates are interpreted as having lower value or "too good to be true".

In a vacuum, rates mean little, but no hotel operates in a vacuum. Low rates, when compared to your competition set, can devalue your hotel. "You get what you pay for" is still alive and well; a new Mercedes car for $20,000 is not credible, even though you might sell one to a fool.

When sales demand is low, look to value-added marketing and position your hotel properly within your marketplace. If your hotel deserves to be in the number one position because of its location, facilities and amenities, make sure it is positioned that way.

Gather Data in Your Market Before You Set Rates

For a modest amount of money, you can start receiving market share reports from Smith Travel Research. They are not available everywhere, but, if they‘re available in your area, they will provide a tremendous amount of insight into your local market status. It is far better than guessing or "counting cars" in your competition's parking lot; that brings me back to the seventies, it didn't work then either.

STR reports will provide you with accurate information comparing your occupancy, ADR, and RevPar with your stated competition. The fairness and accuracy of STR reports will assist you to place your hotel in its proper position among your competitors.

Improve Your Knowledge Base

I'm constantly surprised to hear from hoteliers who have so many excuses why they don't stay current by reading any of the many online eNewsletters. Lack of time is often the most used excuse; I guess these are the same people who don't have time to return phone calls too.

Today, go online and subscribe to at least three free online newsletters. Keep your knowledge base current with the happenings in our industry. You can learn a great deal from the successes and failures of others; the only thing you truly own is what you know.

The Internet Is Indispensable

Take a serious look at your hotel's website; this year, more than 70% of your business will be directly or indirectly influenced by the Internet. Before you look to have another website designed, get an analysis of your current site. A good analysis will give you a clue to what is working or isn't working very well on your site. Beware of those offering to analyze your  whole site for free; that's usually what it's worth.

You can then use this analysis to guide the new designer to create a functional website. Remember, search engine optimization must be incorporated into the design of your site; it's not something used only after your site is completed.
It's an absolute fallacy to think that SEO can be applied to a poorly designed website to increase traffic. If someone suggests that to you, run, don't walk away quickly. SEO must be incorporated into the design of the site itself.

The number of hotels getting ripped-off  by techie-talking web designers is astounding. I read an article the other day, written by a web site design company that thinks that, having an average of only 2% of site visitors who actually make a reservation, is a good average. Less than 4% indicates that something is wrong. Converting "lookers into bookers" is an integral function of your website.

As I have said many times, web design is not rocket science. Your site needs to be designed to be easily found through search and, once found, it needs to have the necessary elements of location, facilities, attractions, and value to persuade its visitors to make a reservation.

Make a Commitment to Revenue Management

Today is the day to finally make a commitment to learn and use revenue management to increase occupancy and average rate. Sure, it takes a little effort to do the necessary research, but the rewards are great.

Revenue management relies upon your ability to look into the near and distant future to view occupancy demand and making rate decisions well in advance. Measuring reservation booking pace and being aware of occupancy generators in your area promotes smart decisions.

Contact:
Neil Salerno, CHME, CHA
Hotel Marketing Coach
Email:
NeilS@hotelmarketingcoach.com 

www.hotelmarketingcoach.com

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