Is Now The Time To Turn Off Automation?
Duetto's CEO, David Woolenberg, was joined by Deniel Frey, VP Revenue Management, H-Hotels, and Kelly Cronin, Revenue Director, Village Hotels, on the latest edition of our One World, One Industry, One Conversation webinar series on September 22.
"At the beginning of COVID we made the decision that we were going to try and differentiate ourselves with a focus on providing value to the hospitality industry overall. I'm very proud of what we've produced and, based on the feedback and engagement that we're given, we are creating value for the industry," David Woolenberg said in his welcome.
"This month we announced our Fall Release and I'm really excited about that because it's packed with new functionality based on conversations that we've had with hoteliers, revenue teams and experts that we work with in our business. Central to what we learned was understanding that right now full automation may not be the answer," Woolenberg added.
Two of the key features of the Fall Release are AutoPilot Schedule and Restriction Rules - features that enable revenue teams to focus on what's most important and strategic to their business.
H-Hotels have been using Duetto for two and a half years now and were quick to turn on our AutoPilot feature. However, when the pandemic hit, Frey and his team had to rethink their strategy and their approach to automation.
Frey explained to the audience the decision making process at H-Hotels to switch off automation, and the decision taken not long afterwards to reinstate it.
"We were big fans of automation from the beginning. And when this whole Corona crisis started and the cancellations came in we decided to turn off the AutoPilot for the first time in years," he explained.
"But, after one or two weeks we figured out that it was actually not the smartest decision we have made because many events, fairs and congresses have been postponed to early 2021. Because the team was on short working hours and we were dealing with all the cancellations we lost focus of these events and all of the sudden we received tons of bookings at very low rates for Q1 2021 and we didn't pick it up," he added.
For Frey, the challenge was that the AutoPilot was needed for this long-term pick up, but it was unable to deal with the very short-term situation.
"We decided to turn AutoPilot back on and at the same time we asked Duetto to come up with a solution where we can somehow have both," Frey said.
AutoPilot Schedule was launched in the Duetto September Release. However, the revenue team at H-Hotels had been using the new functionality in beta for a number of weeks.
Frey explained to the audience how he was using this new feature in Duetto to regain control of automation: "Now, we leave everything that's five days and beyond to the AutoPilot and everything that is really short term we manage manually as the current booking pattern goes hand in hand with the Corona news ticker. With the AutoPilot Schedule we have the best we could have in this situation," he said.
Using Automation With Segmentation
The revenue team at Village Hotels have been re-evaluating segments and channels and using automation to get ahead.
"From the early days of lockdown, it became evident very quickly that this was going to be an absolutely revolutionary period of time for our industry. We took stock very early on and realized that a lot of the data that we've come to rely on, that drove a lot of our automation, was actually going to be, to a degree, obsolete moving forward and we needed to really think about the impact of that," Cronin explained.
"Our portfolio performs relatively predictably with very defined seasons, very defined segments. Suddenly, that was all very different. So we took the chance to effectively rebuild parts of our system. We introduced some new ways of looking at channel pace and channel delivery in Duetto. And that's given our team the ability to see that movement, not only by segment but by channel as well, to really understand which channels are working for us, how they're behaving differently as they did last year?
Working with the rest of the Commercial Team, the revenue team at Village Hotels launched a 'booking revolution platform', a closed user group platform.
"That's really where automation has helped us in Duetto because a lot of those packages are managed by a threshold set up in our rules," Cronin explained.
Other topics up for debate in the 40-minute webinar included:
- How can hotels regain control of volatile demand?
- How can you create conditional strategies that are agile and quick to implement?
And questions from the audience included:
- How is the destination's openness - such as restaurants, sightseeing, etc. - impacting hotels and how are they working together?
- Do you see any signs of booking patterns returning to normal at any time in 2021?
- What are your best practices for dealing with cancellation policies from tour operators and OTAs?
Missed the webinar? Don't worry - you can listen on-demand here.
Duetto delivers a suite of cloud applications to simplify hospitality revenue decisions and allow hoteliers to work smarter, increasing organizational efficiency, revenue, and profitability. The unique combination of hospitality experience and technology leadership drives Duetto to look for innovative solutions to industry challenges. The software as a service platform allows hotels and casino resorts to leverage real-time dynamic data sources and actionable insights into pricing and demand across the enterprise. More than 4,000 hotel and casino resort properties in more than 60 countries have partnered to use Duetto's applications, which include GameChanger for pricing, ScoreBoard for intelligent reporting and BlockBuster for contracted-business optimization. Duetto is backed by investors Warburg Pincus, Icon Ventures, Accel Partners, Battery Ventures and Spectrum 28. For more information, please visit https://www.duettocloud.com/.