Hotel COVID-19 Recovery: It’s Time to Outsource your Revenue Management
By Patrick Landman, CEO & Founder at Xotels
Even more so during the COVID-19 crisis ...
Covid-19 has exposed weaknesses both in hotels managing Revenue Management internally as well as the traditional outsourcing model and Revenue Management software providers.
Nowadays, hotels need to be more resilient and agile than ever before. Being prepared for anything, whereby reducing risk is top priority. Hoteliers need to rethink their businesses entirely, and outsourcing is the perfect facilitator in this process. With external expertise and a proven track record since 2006, Xotels has guided 100+ hotels since its inception through both economic downturn and crises.
Going for externalisation can set you up for success, especially in times like these… Outperform your competition to make sure the current crisis can be conquered just like the ones prior.
Bring in the experts!
In this article:
- Where Hotels Get it Wrong
- So Why Should an Independent Hotel Outsource Revenue Management?
- What are the Advantages of Outsourcing Revenue Management?
- Why Traditional Outsourcing Might not Work
It is a question I often hear when explaining what we do at Xotels. People seem surprised hotels are willing to hand over a vital part of their strategies to a 3rd party. Such a sensitive and key part to the success of your business as revenue management should not be left to an 'outside' company many hoteliers respond.
The first question I usually ask, do you have a lawyer or an accountant? Aren't they external service providers as well? Why not keep this data internally as it is of a very sensitive nature?
The answer usually boils down to the fact that such expertise cannot be qualified or hired internally and because of cost reasons. The skills are very specific and it's best to rely on specialist service providers like law and accounting firms.
For this same reasoning revenue management would qualify to be an outsourced function within your hotel. The question actually is, 'why shouldn't independent hotels outsource Revenue Management?'.
Where a Lot of Hotels Get it Wrong
I am often surprised by the initial reaction of many hoteliers. In general, we are willing to outsource specialist fields like legal, accounting and payroll, but are averse to getting professional help when it comes to improving our strategies to generate more income.
Why, I wonder? It seems it is more an emotional response, than one based on business requirements. Unfortunately, too many hotel managers seem to be of the opinion they can perfectly well qualify a revenue manager for his skills and strategic vision.
I beg to differ with that. Based on my experiences I must actually strongly disagree. Objectively how can someone qualify as a specialist, if he or she does not actually do not have the technical qualifications themselves? On the basis of what would you qualify as a revenue manager, if you do not know what the job really entails?
And no, it's not just simply about changing some rates here and there, which seems to be a common misunderstanding amongst many hoteliers. Mind you, even with that there are complexities involved on which you need to be certain of a potential revenue manager candidate that has the right skills and experience.
Of course the HR manager, DOS or GM can have a great philosophical discussion about yield management and business vision. Still, it will not tell you if the person in front of you has the right experience and skills (read more: many revenue managers lack basic skills).
Talking about revenue management is actually quite easy. It's all a bunch of mumbo jumbo theory with interesting terminology and concepts. Anyone that has done his fair share of reading can sell it. The question is how good the candidate's skills are, and does his profile match your particular properties needs.
Especially at independent hotels, where true internal technical knowledge is little, this is a big challenge. Let's be honest, how can a General Manager who has never been a revenue manager, touched a CRS, updated a channel manager, analyzed segment pick-up curves or performed displacement calculations possibly effectively qualify a candidate for a revenue manager vacancy?
And after comes the next challenge. How would you actually manage a revenue manager? Check the quality of his work and methodology? Trust me this is important, it's easy to make small mistakes, which if go unchecked could lead to a loss of revenue. And many RM's do not have the tendency to audit their own work.
How will you deal with this if you do not know what your revenue manager is doing exactly? Will you simply trust he is doing the right thing? Do you want to rely on the judgment of just one person, of whom you are not sure what he / she really does in the first place?
And how will you help your revenue manager to further develop his skills? Actually we often hear from revenue managers working in independent hotels that they feel they are not well understood, and do not have enough support internally to further grow their knowledge, insight and techniques.
So Why Should an Independent Hotel Outsource Revenue Management?
- It will be hard to sufficiently qualify the skills of a potential RM candidate
- How can you manage a RM effectively if you have not been one yourself?
- It is a specialist skill for which you should rely on more than one person's experience and views
- Turnover tends to be high as RM's are always on the lookout to grow in their career
By the way, outsourcing is also not the correct word. It has too much of a negative connotation to it. I would rather call it in-sourcing. At Xotels, we actually become an integral part of the hotel's executive team and support them not only in revenue management and distribution but also on strategic decisions in other areas from marketing to front desk operations.
We go beyond the yield and revenue part and assist our clients in gaining a better understanding of their business, team performance and building their brand. Business Development is in our DNA.
What are the Advantages of Outsourcing Revenue Management?
A major advantage that we offer our clients is our infrastructure. We have at our disposal a large team of hotel professionals all with different core specialities, ranging from pricing strategies, distribution management, and ecommerce to statistics and math. So based on the needs of a particular hotel we have all the required knowledge, skills and experience available.
2. Revenue Manager Scarcity & Budget Constraints
Finding qualified revenue management staff is not easy and definitely does not come cheap
Scarcity of revenue managers is a real issue in the industry, and especially for independent and smaller hotels both budget and the time-consuming hiring process come into play.
And, the problems do not stop there… Even once a revenue manager has joined, there is no guarantee how long it will take for this individual to leave for other opportunities.All the efforts of training will be lost once again, and valuable knowledge about your performance will walk out the door.
3. Years of Knowledge from Multiple Angles
Moreover our revenue managers operate in teams and are again managed by revenue managers. This allows for the proper checks and balances, and not just relying on the opinion of just one person. An independent hotel gets the same level of support as a property that is part of a large international hotel chain.
4. The Disconnect of Revenue Management
We fundamentally believe that disconnect between the level of expertise of revenue managers in general as well as true understanding by senior management of this strategic part of the hotel business. Solving this issue bridges a gap to enable higher level communication where a true understanding of a hotel´s performance can be developed by all stakeholders and real opportunities can be brought to light.
5. Staff Workload
Sadly, we see this happen across the hotel industry. Usually, it is the Front Office or Room Division Manager taking on the position of "Revenue Manager" besides his full-time function.
Unquestionably, assigning what is always already at least one full-time position (FTE), assures the manager´s ability to perform his day-to-day responsibilities is impaired. This unfortunately works as a two way street, not only reducing the capability to effectively run the front of house, but also the hotel´s extent to drive revenue. Essentially, depriving the hotel of opportunities to make money in the worst ways possible.
Revenue management decision-making is influenced by many different factors, making it such a complex speciality. Most independent hotels are missing out revenue typically including untapped potential on more than one of the following aspects:
- Rate opportunities (e.g. hotel type, season, lead time, segmentation, type of rooms, day of week patterns, review score)
- Ancillary revenue (F&B, MICE, Spa etc.)
- Market and economic fluctuations
- PMS/POS/CRS opportunities
- Organizational challenges & structural change
- And many more…
7. Unmatched Financial Performance
Finally, it can be hard to quantify the financial benefit of having an external revenue manager beforehand, especially considering the many factors that come into play when it comes to successful Hotel Revenue Management. However, nearly all hotels can undoubtedly profit from the right company leading its revenue management operations and strategy. Having the combined power of years of experience, trusted methodologies and best practices, analytical capabilities, and a proven track record during both economic downturns and crises, Xotels' team is capable of constructing a rock solid approach and execution of revenue management to generate the best financial results possible.
Why Traditional Outsourcing Might not Work
Oftentimes, hotels need more than having a system or an individual just checking the figures, and require more than the occasional uninspiring generically produced reporting to truly understand how their business is performing. Without proper guidance and insights, hoteliers get lost in the essence of what being a hotel business truly is, whether it is driving revenue across the board, looking beyond KPIs such as ADR and RevPAR, or aligning all departments in effort of delivering quality output in terms of marketing, sales, and operations, all in a motivated and goal oriented environment.
Operating without an aligned approach and strategy is like having different departments working with a compass pointing in two opposite directions. When the (external) revenue manager is unable to involve and motivate other stakeholders within the hotel to reach goals, all the initial effort is lost. Automatically, the goals that have been set are in jeopardy due to the miscommunication and incompetence of the parties involved in the revenue management decision making. Especially for this reason, it is key for revenue management practices to be rolled out in parallel to other departments, keeping a bird´s eye view over trends and performance fluctuations to maximizing potential.
Going for a fully integrated methodology and essentially becoming part of the hotel team, just like how we approach outsourcing for our clients at Xotels, is the key to success of any form of externalisation under the discipline of revenue management.
Our ideas tend to resonate well with owners, investors and investment funds that have a clear mission and vision of where they want to take their business. And hotel managers who are innovative and want to break boundaries are usually big fans of ours. Xotels is as we say it is for a new breed of hoteliers.
Perhaps our clients would be best to explain why they would Outsource Revenue Management to Xotels:
Rino Soeters, General Manager at La Bergere Group, explained; 'The difference of having Xotels as our revenue management team comes down to 23% in our revenue, these guys know how to push for results'.
And the team behind the Pantone Hotel in Brussels stated; 'Xotels revenue management experts turned our hotel profitable with the first year of opening. I did not know hotels could generate such an ROI.'
And from the Es Moli resort in Mallorca the following feedback; 'Revenue management is not only for city hotels. The results realized at our resort are proof. RevPar increased with 18% in the first year and 14% in the second year.'
Interested in driving your financial performance to unmatched levels with a fully integrated collaborative approach to fight for every piece of business out there?
Look no further than Xotels for the revenue management experience and expertise you need. Bring in the experts!