Question for Our Revenue Management Expert Panel:

With historic data now less relevant as we move into post-pandemic recovery, what forward-looking data is a “must-have” for hotels?

Industry Expert Panel

Our Industry Expert Panel exists out of professionals within the hospitality & travel Industry. They have comprehensive and detailed knowledge, experience in practice or management and are forward-thinking. They are answering questions about the state of the industry. They share their insights on topics like revenue management, marketing, operations, technology and discuss the latest trends.

Chaya Kowal
Chaya KowalDirector of Revenue Management, Potato Head Family

“While historic data is not really relevant anymore and your current OTB might not provide enough insights, you need to look more closely at other elements.
I would say that it’s time to “unlearn” certain elements of decision-making in Revenue Management, i.e., it’s time to start thinking outside the box and taking more risks. Unless you put your offers out there and test them, you won’t really know what’s working and what’s not!

Lead times have drastically changed. While some markets will book really last-minute, others that used to book last-minute are now shifting to booking further in advance. Day-of-the-week or weekend trends are changing and there is no longer a specific seasonality anymore.

Your old data, in terms of market segments, might not help. In the past, if your OTAs were producing the most, followed by WHO and then Direct (for example), this might change when you re-open post-pandemic. Some hotels are seeing WHO topping their production for example.

Domestic Trends:
For many destinations (especially with travel restrictions), the domestic market is currently the only producing market. For the next 3-6 months, this will continue to be the primary market for many destinations. It’s important to understand the behaviour of this market.

International market – Special Bubble arrangements / Travel corridors between specific countries:
How will travel restrictions influence customer behaviour?
How the consumer behaviour is changing in terms of buying and what are they looking for? For example, there is an increase in demand for sustainable products / resorts, activities where guests can make a difference in the life of local people or participate in authentic experiences, Digital nomads, plant-based food etc. and adapting your offerings – those who are proactive and pioneers of change and sustainability will definitely be at an advantage here.

A few main elements to keep track of: competition, demand, travel restrictions being lifted (increase in flights, special events,) analyzing competitor pricing / room type etc.

Search traffic data:
You easily get these from OTAs for example (for your city / destination/ location) and it will help analyze upcoming trends – which countries are the most searches coming from? What kind of LOS are they looking at? What travel dates are peaking? Flight search data is also helpful here to understand trends.

Based on demand and specific market insights, you can create geo- promos for your property.

Being up-to-date with what the local authorities are doing for tourism for your destination is also important to help align your actions and optimize sales.

Finally, it’s important to work on driving revenue across the hotel rather than just rooms; from day packages & night packages to experience packages that all cater to the changing behaviours and demands of customers (wellness, F&B, digital nomads, etc.).”

Paulo Aragao
Paulo AragaoRevenue Management Professional

“There are a few future-looking sets of data that hotels should be focusing on. The first one is about cancellations. Cancellations data was probably never taken as seriously as it is taken now. The hotel must turn to cancellation information, and the more detailed, the better. What is the cancellation window for reservations in the next two weeks? What was the reason for the cancellation? What is the impact on revenue by the refunded bookings and are there negative reviews about the non-refunded ones?

Hotels need to customize their denials criteria and empower the Reservations team to be detailed about the reasons around clients cancelling or denying a booking. Answering all these questions should give insights into how demand is reacting to the news, to the hotel’s price, to regulations, to safety and cleaning practices, to border restrictions, etc.

Another important forward-looking data now is vaccination rates. The good news is that hotels probably do not have to go too far: the vaccination rate of the state in which it’s located should give good light. As the population attempts to build up herd immunity, travellers will be more confident to go on short trips, usually by car. Leisure travel is already happening like that and the numbers are growing in many locations.

Also, I believe remote work has fundamentally changed our perception of job and location, and mobile communities are rising. Alternative accommodations are spearheading the race; therefore, it is important for hotels to be looking at all short-term vacation rental demand information available, and to include those listings as part of the competitive set.”

Theresa Prins
Theresa PrinsFounder, Revenue Resolutions

“Historical data is used to analyse customer behaviour, but in addition, this repeated information over years showed seasonality. Current data for future bookings of your own property is vital, as this shows us current customer behaviour and with using this new behaviour, we can forecast new trends on which we must act to optimise revenue.

Competitive pricing data has become more relevant than before, but not to follow a price war, rather to determine the demand of your competitors.
STR data plays an important role with forward bookings, but this is something that has not taken off in South Africa. Forward bookings of your competitor set, broken into market segments, gives amazing insight into demand patterns.

Depending on your geographical location, you may need to follow demand behaviour in other countries and then draw assumptions on your demand needs.”

Andrew Wheal
Andrew WhealFounder & Chief Techspert, Hospitality Tech Expert

“Whilst historical data has become less ‘reliable’ in the last couple of years as a barometer by which we can gauge future demand, new metrics are providing fresh insights. One of the newest and most actionable data points is to review the amount of hits on the website and booking engine and to understand from where those hits are coming and what they are looking for.

Several Revenue Management software solutions now not only look at your competitor data in terms of booking trends, but they also review a raft of google analytics data for hotel websites, city searches and even search data on visitor attractions.”

Patrick Wimble
Patrick WimbleManaging Director, Lightbulb Consulting

“The obvious one is booking pace, i.e., understanding how bookings for particular periods have changed versus the period prior. This should also be looked at by segment. But looking at future pace data by market from a variety of sources such as OTA insight, STR etc., will be critical in understanding changes that are happening in the market but might not yet have been reflected in the hotel’s booking pace. This could enable you to make informed decisions rather than simply reacting to pace data.

Keeping an eagle eye on your competitors’ rates will continue to be important. However, we all know that we are “at the mercy of our dumbest competitor” so not simply following our competitors will also be key.”

Heiko Rieder
Heiko RiederVice President Revenue Management and Reservations, Penta Hotels

“With travel restrictions opening up in due course, we will see more postponed events being re-scheduled with short notice, therefore a minimum requirement would be a tool to alert Revenue Management of any newly announced events and the expected number of visitors. This is to not miss out on revenue opportunities, as the RMS forecast (which bases its forecast on historic data) will not pick up the trend fast enough.

More precise information to generate a demand forecast will be delivered from forward-looking on-the-books data, occupancy rates at the least, from competitive or industry sets. If reliable, this data should ideally interact with the algorithm of the RMS or at least be available in the RMS for reference (as opposed to using it on separate applications). The challenge with forward-looking data providers can be that data coverage is mostly limited to the large global and less regional brands or individual hotels.”

Edyta Walczak
Edyta WalczakCluster Revenue Manager, Arora Hotels

“There are many tools and reports available, however often they also use historical data to predict the demand and therefore they are not as useful as they used to be. Forward Stats provided by STR come in very useful, looking at the forward pace in a wider market and an understanding of the new lead time helps to plan and implement a stronger rate strategy.

Some meaningful data can be found on OTA’s reporting. TravelClick Pace reports can likewise provide us with some insights of forward BOB for their specific channel. The key is to monitor international travel trends, governments’ roadmaps etc. Also, understanding the lead time of the property (by segment, DOW, channel).”

Pablo Torres
Pablo TorresHotel Consultant, TSA Solutions