Hotel marketing and revenue management execs are pushing their tech vendors to do more…
This article originally appeared on Tambourine.
Your central reservation system (CRS) is one of the most important assets in your hotel’s overall marketing arsenal. (Yes, marketing… because pricing is one of the four “Ps” of marketing)
It distributes rates and inventory to the online travel agencies (OTAs), global distribution system (GDS) and other critical endpoints in the distribution food chain, as well as (most importantly) your own direct booking engine. It also provides a centralized repository of where your rooms are being booked across all channels… and at what rates.
Lately, more and more hoteliers are waking up to the realization that their boring, old CRS platform may have untapped capabilities that can deliver an unexpected, new competitive edge.
Here’s why hoteliers are pushing their CRS vendors to step up their game:
1. As ADRs and occupancies reach all-time highs, and new supply bloats a comp set, smart hoteliers are pushing their all their tech partners to do more…
2. OTAs have teams of data scientists and highly evolved digital tech and systems of their own, designed to siphon and convert bookings from all the other channels where your CRS distributes inventory and rates
3. Technology has changed. What used to be costly upgrades are now standard, but many hoteliers are unaware of the power of new CRS tech, and some vendors aren’t doing a great job of communicating these changes
4. Turnover among hotel revenue managers leaves new employees who are responsible for the CRS, but possess an incomplete understanding of the power of the system
5. Revenue management teams are often unaware of new features or best practices espoused by the CRS vendor. These best practices could help the revenue management team save time, be more efficient and avoid redundant tasks
“Having a perishable product like room nights, means speed and accuracy of revenue management implementation is paramount,” said Noelani Berkholtz, director of CRS at Tambourine. “If system complexities are slowing down your strategies—or worse, blocking implementation altogether—even the brightest minds in the business are set up for failure.”
Now that we know WHY hotels are putting more pressure on their CRS vendors, what exactly are they asking for?
Here four of their most common demands:
1. Better Training:
These days, hoteliers are seeking unlimited training on the full CRS platform, as well as ongoing training on new functionalities that provide expanded opportunities or meet the custom needs of the property. Training should also be personalized and standard for all new hires.
Why hand someone the keys if they weren’t taught properly how to drive?
“It seems counterintuitive to sign a multi-year contract with a technology company which provides only one training,” said Berkholtz. “Either the technology company is assuming it will not be adding any new functionalities that would require training in the next 3 to 5 years, or they are planning on adding new functionalities, but not equipping the hotel with the knowledge of how to properly execute them. This is the technology age, right?”
2. Expert Rate/Promo Construction:
Once a rate/discount strategy is developed, tech providers should be able to provide expert implementation to maximize the effectiveness of the campaign. This includes how the package/promotion should be built, displayed (specific messaging or slash-through capabilities) and ranked. The hotel should focus on revenue-generating activities, while the tech team should focus on building-out the rate plan effectively in the CRS. This process also includes creating new rate plans in the IBE and mapping all channels needed.
The hotel comes up with the strategy, and the CRS vendor implements that strategy in the most effective way.
3. Better cross-Vendor Coordination:
Tech companies speak “tech” fluently.
Yet often, hotels are expected to coordinate efforts between their tech vendors (CRS and PMS, for example) and a lot gets lost in translation. With the hotel’s permission, tech providers should implement solutions and support common properties together, rather than bogging-down the hotel as a referee in frustrating back and forth email threads, when the issue could be resolved with one simple phone call between providers.
“With the industry movement toward revenue management and marketing convergence, technologies are mirroring the evolution,” explained Berkholtz. “Revenue managers who historically stuck to their hard facts and data are now needing to understand the marketing abilities within their technology platforms to optimize performance. Tech companies need to understand this education gap and explain in ‘revenue manager language’ how to utilize marketing functionalities within their systems.”
4. Better On-Boarding:
When hoteliers switch CRS vendors, they want their new partner to make the experience frictionless. They want assistance in retrieving data from their current systems to quickly populate the new system. They also want to provide feedback on specific concerns from past experiences and make sure the problems of the past are not repeated.
Similarly, when a new revenue manager is hired to manage the CRS system, hoteliers again expect their vendors to step up: “When revenue managers join a new property, they typically are engaged in a long process of untangling and discovering the strategies and implementations of the previous director of revenue management (DORM),” said Berkholtz. “When technology companies are consistently engaged with the property, they can assist the new DORM to efficiently uncover the past and shorten the ramp-up time.”About Tambourine
Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 34th year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com