In our series, ‘Questionnaire for Revenue Managers,’, manager answer questions to describe what their everyday business looks like and what challenges they regularly face. We begin with Melody Grelat, who describes herself as “a foody and a gym addict.” Pushing herself and relaxing at the same time is, she says with a smile, a very good way to fight stress. Regarding her job, Melody is revenue manager at Qbic Hotels London City. She was hired with the aim of taking over from an external revenue management company and implementing a new and more successful revenue management strategy for the hotel. Below, she discusses why she never gets bored and could not work without the BOB report …
Why, exactly, did you choose this job?
I had the chance to work for small companies within the hotel industry, where everyone was given the opportunity to learn and grow beyond their standard job descriptions. As I am passionate about the hospitality industry, I was very eager to learn as much as I could and grow within the companies. I quickly discovered that I wanted to get more involved in reservations and revenue management, which I find exciting, challenging, and fascinating, and I have been working in those areas for three years now. My job is very fast-paced, and I need to be able to react very quickly and make efficient decisions on the spot. Every day is very different and brings a new challenge. Being a revenue manager also stimulates the mind, and I never get bored.
What would make your work easier?
Efficient and reliable systems definitely help revenue managers with their work load. If you need to log in to different platforms to upload your rates, availability and restrictions, you are going to lose a lot of time. You might actually miss opportunities and oversell certain days at low rates, etc. Efficient, reliable and integrated systems enable revenue managers to save their precious time, so they can really focus on what matters most for the hotel: Sell your room at the right time, at the right price, and to the right customer.
What kinds of challenges does a revenue manager face every day?
One of the biggest challenges is managing various stakeholders. As a revenue manager, you might need to develop risky strategies, and you need to be able to hold onto your beliefs and convince everyone that you are making the right decisions for the business. You also need to maintain good relationships with the departments within your business, as well as with your partners, and make sure that your decisions will both benefit stakeholders and make everyone happy.
Can Revenue Management become complicated?
Yes, if you do not work with the right systems. You might need to manage various platforms manually while keeping a close eye on your pickup, in order to sell at the right time, at the right price and to the right guest, and make sure you are not overbooking.
Is there anything you do that could be automated?
Loading rates could be automated – we are currently working on a direct integration with Pricematch, so rates can be sent directly to hetras via Siteminder. Also, the Global Distribution System (GDS) platform could be managed with automation. We are losing opportunities by managing the GDS manually, as availability must be carefully loaded to avoid overbookings. Integrating the GDS platform would enable us to maximize this channel and grab every opportunity.
Which of your tools could you not do without?
The Business on the Book (BOB) tool is essential. It acts as a pace report and shows us how many room nights were picked up overnight, for which days, at what rate, etc. The BOB tool also enables us to track our current performance against budget, includes the hotel’s Key Performance Indicators, and is used as a forecasting tool. I could not work without the BOB report – all of my work is focused around it. I also rely on the Property Management System software, which enables me to implement restrictions, control the channels on which I want to sell my rooms, and also control the number of rooms I want to sell per channel and their lead time.
What would you say is your “secret weapon”? How do you use it?
Our secret weapon, and what makes Qbic so successful, is our large number of direct-booking and returning guests. I am, however, not sure I can share our methods publicly, as they have led to our success and are supposed to remain secret! ;)
If you look into the future, what does the role of a revenue manager look like?
Today there are revenue managers in big hotel chains that have been working the same way for years. These managers rely on their Excel spreadsheets and do not know how to analyze the vast amount of data now available to them. With all the drastic changes in the industry, a new generation of hotels has emerged. They are successful, because they work in a very different way. Being a revenue manager for these new generation hotels is very different than, say, being a typical revenue manager working for a big chain. New generation hotels are so successful, because they focus their strategies on building a very efficient infrastructure of systems that give their team more time to focus on their guests.
So, you believe that bigger chains will soon need to learn how to adapt to keep up with the success of new generation hotels?
Big chains will definitely have to adapt. Successful revenue managers need to be able to analyze and understand all the information that is now available to them that did not exist five years ago. They must take into account website analytics, review scores, benchmarking information, etc., convey this information to stakeholders, and use the data to drive their own decision-making.
But technology that makes the lives of customers and hoteliers easier elready exists. Why don’t hotels use it?
I believe that many hotels do not know how to use such technologies yet. And I believe revenue managers should be leading this change to encourage direct bookings and returning business and an increase in revenue. Our system infrastructure at Qbic is very unique and new to the industry. It has enabled us to save time and create an efficient operations team that has time to focus on our guests, which has drastically encouraged returning guests. In terms of revenue, the systems we work with have helped us saving time, so we can focus on analyzing the relevant data to capture the right market at the right time and at the right price. We have considerably increased our direct market segment and our overall revenue and have reduced our costs. The way we work is very unique, and traditional hotels will need to adapt, should they want to deliver similar results.
Thanks for responding, Melody!
Melody Grelat, who loves traveling and discovering new places and cultures, was hired as a Revenue Manager for the Qbic Hotel London City. She also loves hiking – she was born in the Alps, so she needs to go home a few times every year. At Qbic, she managed the take-over from an external revenue management company and implemented a new and more successful revenue management strategy for the hotel. Maybe that was a little like climbing up a mountain …
Qbic’s aims were to increase the number of direct bookings they received, reduce distribution costs, and increase the ARR and RevPar, while maintaining high levels of occupancy. For these reasons, they implemented a new infrastructure system to maximize sales and reduce costs. The PMS was changed from Itesso to hetras, and the CRS, which was Rezexchange/Rate Tiger, became Siteminder. Also, new financial and payment systems were implemented. The results in a year’s time are remarkable: Qbic increased direct bookings from 25% to 55% and exceeded their STR comp set RevPar by an average of £7, previously below it by £10. All this was accomplished while maintaining a high level of occupancy throughout the year.
Melody is passionate about and fascinated by customer service in the travel industry, especially by the fact ‘that it is growing so quickly always offering new products.” She loves reading about new hotel concepts coming into the market. About new technology she says, “Working with systems is something I really enjoy. You cannot get bored working in this fascinating, fast-paced industry.”
Interview with Revenue Manager Anglika Viebahn
Interview with Revenue Manager Pamela Heimer
How to increase hotel revenue – A case study by hetras and AHM