In its recent “Make Room for Revenue” webinar, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts offered advice on driving and optimizing hotel’s top-line revenue in today’s landscape.
Eliot Hamlisch, head of revenue optimization, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, said that it is critical for hotels to refine their revenue strategy. “As the industry continues to evolve, what we know worked pre-pandemic may not be what works moving forward to capture the demand that’s in the marketplace,” he said. “…Having consistent strategic oversight and remaining nimble to adjust quickly and proactively is more important than it’s ever been.”
Hamlisch offered six tips for optimizing revenue. “The overarching theme here is all about remaining nimble and having a proactive framework to shifting your demand funnel to this ever-changing landscape and ecosystem that we’re all collectively operating in over the next three to six months and certainly beyond that as well,” he said.
Know who is traveling and get your fair share of current and future traveler segments
Leisure weekend and holiday demand will be absolutely key entering the fall season. “We know that the key to revenue optimization is building a broad funnel to handle this ever-changing landscape for the long-term,” he said. “This means balancing short-term demand, but also looking for what’s around the corner and being very proactive and planning for that.”
Now is time to grow business travel and group mix. “We anticipate that these segments are going to be even more competitive as we look across the longer horizon based on some of the trends that we [have] identified…,” said Hamlisch.
He suggested having staff seek future business from existing guests. “You should be coaching your front desk staff to ask guests what brings them to your city and to your hotel,” Hamlisch said. “If it’s business travel, take the opportunity to ask them if they travel often or if they’re going to be coming back to this destination or to other destinations, and are there other colleagues at their companies that travel? It is also a great opportunity to ask if there are coordinators that are coordinating travel on their company’s behalf? And, it’s just a perfect opportunity to ask for a business card and maintain start and maintain that relationship moving forward.”
Maximizing your audience reach
It is extremely important for a hotel to reach as broad an audience for guests as possible, which includes working with OTAs and wholesalers. “This is all about having a balanced distribution strategy,” said Hamlisch. “Having access to and deploying multiple channels from a merchandising perspective is absolutely critical. We spend a lot of time talking about the importance of direct contribution. It is also important, though, to think about third parties as an extension of your reach to audiences that you might not get to otherwise…We spend a lot of time talking about how to minimize the cost of booking or the cost of customer acquisition, but important to be mindful of the fact that you cannot cost optimize a booking that you don’t have.”
He added that it is important to maximize your content quality. “You have to put your best foot forward as you merchandise yourself through your direct channels and your third-party distribution channels,” he said.
Loyalty is key to optimizing net revenue
Hamlisch stressed that it is important to reach out to guests who have already stayed at your property. “You should be proactively reaching out to those guests in a very personalized way,” he said. “It’s really that personalization that’s becoming an expectation of table stakes in our industry.”
It’s easier and less expensive to retain a guest than acquire a new one. “One way that we’ve found particularly helpful from a guest retention perspective is post-stay emails,” said Hamlisch. “It could even be a simple thing like sending a thank you note. It often keeps your hotel top of mind and encourages a guest to stay with you again.”
It is critically important to optimize your canceled bookings guest list. “It could have been the case that they weren’t ready to travel before, but they may very well be now,” he said. “Constantly maintaining that dialogue with customers that might not have chosen to stay with you in the past is particularly important.”
Guest retention is dependent on the entire experience
The most important aspect for a guest is what the experience was like on property. “It’s about ensuring that seamless customer experience from the moment they booked your hotel, from the moment they check-in to the moment they checkout and what your engagement looks like with them after the fact, as well,” said Hamlisch. “And that engagement is what’s going to drive those positive reviews and, over time, increase guest satisfaction and guest retention.”
Putting it together—optimize your rate strategy
Hamlisch said that it is important to be fluid in your rate strategy. “We ask ourselves often, ‘What are our customers willing to pay?’” he said. “It’s really that question that’s in part science and part art. It’s all about optimizing your rate strategy.”
He continued, “It is very important to remember here that this is not a one-size-fits-all approach. And it’s highly unlikely that any of us are going to get it right the first time. It’s about testing and learning. It’s trying something that you think is going to work well; making an educated guess based on what you know about your marketplace.”
Now is the time: It’s not too late to plan for Q4 and 2022
Hamlisch said that there is a lot of time in the rest of the year to plan for this quarter and the next year using the tips that were offered. “You have the opportunity to optimize your rate and your occupancy over the course of the next couple of months and, importantly, look forward to 2022,” he said.