The Revenue Report Card - 18 October 2017
Exit Survey used in 1985.In 1985 I was fortunate to sit next to the general manager of the Waldorf Astoria at Cornell's general manager program. His presentation on exit surveying affected my hospitality life for the next 30 years! When I returned home I put what I had learned into play. I started a small exit survey business on the side and put a program into over 20 hotels. By following the exact "Waldorf" model, these hotels received a 63% average response from every guest that stayed with them. Who could argue? This was an amazing result. I'll share one of the tallied feedback reports with you below.What you see above is the exact exit survey used. It was simple, limited in scope and guests filled them out when presented at check-out at the front desk. I'll share the exact sequence of that presentation. It is why we received such high feed back.NOTE: Times, of course have changed and so too has exit surveying. The surveys today are emailed and more elaborate. They are sent after the guest leaves, and my understanding is that an average return is about 32%. It, however uncovered so many more aspects of guests' experiences, staff performance and an overall outlook of properties then what I was getting. Which is better? For detail, clearly today's model.I had the opportunity to recently discuss exit surveying with Kyle Buchner, the CEO of Navis (the Navis Way) who have taken exit surveying to the next level. They send 2 surveys, one while the guest is still in house (or mid-stay), and the extended version after check out. It allows management to quickly respond to in-house guest needs.Before I make this presentation, let me reiterate the theme:I have my Exit Survey Results...now what?In 1985 when a guest came to the desk to check-out the agent would say, "Mr. Smith, while I prepare your folio, would you take a moment to fill out this brief survey? It will help us improve." The agent would turn away and the guest would be left with the survey, an envelope and pen. The envelope would be sealed and dropped in a lock box. Again, 63% responded.TIP: A big part of collecting such a high number of surveys was in allowing the guest ample space and privacy while the folio was being prepared. TIP: In Vacation Rentals, during the check-out visit, the guest is asked if he/she would fill out a survey during the final walk through by the VR agent. This is also highly affective.Results should always be tallied within 2 days and the "Waldorf Plan" was put into playEach week a Task Force chaired by a senior manager and eight hourly staff members (hourly staff changed every month) met. Each would be provided with the tallied results and all guest comments. A real life example, without comments, is shown below.Since surveys then were tallied by an assistant administrator on excel, he/she would immediately create a requisition for housekeeping or maintenance regarding reported problems.NOTE: A dripping faucet irritating a guest at night might not have been uncovered for weeks. Now it could be identified and dealt with immediately. NOTE: Exit Surveys today are tallied digitally with a quicker turnaround time.The "task force" reviewed the feedback received:Exceeded ExpectationsMet ExpectationsFell Short of ExpectationsThe questions on the survey received the following scores on "Met and Exceeded Expectation" above:Hotel Overall 85.4%Check-in Experience 97.8%Comfort of Bedding 86.1%Quality of Housekeeping 89.8%Restaurant 82.6%These results were also posted in each department each weekHourly staff inevitably would go back to their peers and discuss results. As weeks went by staff would excitedly gather around the bulletin board to check the "scores" and discuss them. Guess what? Results improved. As scores rose the staff would congratulate one another. Recognition and reward became an important part of property improvement.TIP: We would present the most recognized staff members with a $100 check at the properties monthly luncheon.Would you consider staying with us again? A valuable question. The 90.6% affirmative response above meant that these guests were immediately placed on the email list. With all we spend in bringing guests to our properties, the Repeat Guest revenue channel, with an average channel cost of 3%, has the majority of revenue earned going directly to the bottom line.Staff recognition is also a powerful tool. It became a competition of sorts and everyone was proudly wearing their name tags!TIP: In over 8 years we would see the same winners time after time. (The concierge was always a shoe in!) So we changed the reward system so that each department would recognize their leader. The comment section is also extremely valuable. The question what did you enjoy the most was almost always the same. Most hotels I dealt with were oceanfront properties and the standard answer was "the beach", the ocean", "the beach", "the ocean"... So not much to be learned there most of the time.The question, what did you enjoy least about your stay is very valuable. It would bring things that needed to be dealt with, to our immediate attention and that brought about a great deal of task force discussion, problem solving and ultimately resolution.Example: Food arriving late or cold from room service, housekeepers speaking loudly in corridors before their shift, uncomfortable mattresses, requested towels never delivered and the like. TIP: The Navis mid -stay survey uncovers issues as the guest is experiencing them and allows management to recognize, correct and make amends with guests; and in close to real time!Each problem was solvable. The "task forces" duty is to discuss and find solutions and then to formally pass them on to the general manager. The GM would make an assessment of Page 5 recommendations and when appropriate, create Standard Operating Procedures to resolve issues.Staff looked forward to the "task force' meetings and their involvement gave them a sense of pride and feeling of "ownership" in contributing to the company's success.Finally, we would change the opening five questions on the survey periodically if conventions were in town, groups were in house or we wanted to test different areas our guests' stay and experience.Exit surveying, is one of the most powerful tools I have every used in operating hotels and vacation rentals.Thank you Waldorf Astoria!The "Definitive Study of Vacation Rentals" can be purchased by contacting me atRichE1212@gmail.com. It will be available on Amazon.
The Revenue Report Card - 9 October 2017
That time is upon us. Below please note four pro formas and how they differ.Vacation Rentals financial models, in some cases, aren't so different from traditional hotels. In other cases they break with traditional revenue and expenditure norms by adding different revenue opportunities, hybrid housekeeping options, maintenance departments that earn revenues and "homeowners" who absorb certain substantial costs instead of the vacation rental company.Kindly look at the 4 pro formas below that represent (1) Vacation Rental Companies that deal in condominium space, (2) Vacation Rental Companies that deal in homes, (3) Condo Hotel Programs and (4) Hotels.Exhibit "A" represents 4 diamond properties in which occupancy, average daily rate and length of stay show variations. In essence it shows a more realistic view of how businesses of this size and caliber (75 units and 4 diamond) and typically flow through to the bottom line.Exhibit "B" represents 4 diamond properties in which metrics mentioned are all the same. In essence it tests their flow through to the bottom line with typical metrics and expenditures in each financial model.Exhibit "A" - Occupancy and ADR VaryExhibit "A" shows occupancies of 67.9%, 67.9%, 72% and 76%, average daily rates of $300, $400, $350 and $370 and average lengths of stay of 4.1, 4.8, 3.1 and 2.3 on VR condos, VR homes, Condo Hotels and Hotels, respectively.Average Length of Stay is the "driver" on some revenues and costs that are based on reservations and not room nights occupied.We can see that vacation rental companies can pay a 65% distribution to "unit" owners while condo hotels are distributing 45%. This can vary based on profitability.Condo Hotels in this model earn higher Gross Reservation Revenues than VR Condos. VR Homes in many cases are big ticket "items" earning higher average daily rates.As is typical to hotels the "Rooms Division" has a 24% cost (limited service) when comparing Cost to Sales.Above, VR condos and homeowners are paying for towels & linens and since housekeeping cost is a profit center, it is broken out and shown separately. The Rooms Division cost, therefore is reduced by these amounts and savings from hybrid housekeeping methods.Administrative & General is also reduced by merchant fees (credit card) because many vacation rental companies charge their guests for merchant fees.The bottom line flow through, after distributions and other cost variations, shows vacation rentals bringing 16.5% and 14.1% to the bottom line. Condo hotels are bringing 14.9% and hotels 32.5%, all before Debt Service and Other Fixed Charges.Exhibit "B" - Occupancy and ADR are the sameExhibit "B" shows occupancies of 72%, average daily rates of $300 and average lengths of stay of 4.1, 4.8, 3.1 and 2.3 on vacation rental condos, vacation rental homes, Condo Hotels and Hotels, respectively.We can see that vacation rental companies can pay a 65% distribution to "unit" owners while condo hotels are distributing 45%. This can vary based on profitability.Hotels in this model, despite sharing the same occupancy and ADR, earn higher Gross Reservation Revenues because they have no Owner Occupancy (when an owner in a vacation rental or condo hotel stays in his home or condo).The bottom line flow through, after distributions and other variations, shows vacation rentals bringing 16.0% and 15.8% to the bottom line. Condo hotels are bringing 14.6% and hotels 31.7%, all before Debt Service and Other Fixed Charges.Final ObservationHotels and Condo Hotels typically invest more in revenue management and as a result earn higher Gross Reservation Revenues. If that gap narrows than the 65% distribution by vacation rentals compared to the 45% distribution paid by condo hotels will have even more impact.In both cases, unit owner distributions are calculated on Gross Reservation Revenues.Vacation rental companies do not have the burden that condo hotel programs have of buying space in the condo. Those additional costs mean that the maximum they can pay and also make a reasonable profit (4 diamond) is 45%.Hotels bring more to the bottom line but they also carry substantially higher debt because of the initial cost of the hotel and having the burden of maintenance and refurbishment of the hotel.Which is best? You decide!The Definitive Study of Vacation Rentals is being finalized before being published. It will be available on Amazon shortly. If you would like a copy of some great chapters write me a note and I'll be pleased to get it out to you. Simply email me atRichE1212@gmail.com.
The Revenue Report Card - 8 May 2017
There are times when words cannot sufficiently convey what numbers can.Today's article is a true life narrative on how my thinking as a revenue manager evolved over 22 years. After 4 Super Bowls, 20 Boat Shows and 12 Ultra Music Festivals I tested and teased markets and found that in certain events wisdom, or "my gut instinct", prevailed over software and conventional theory.The "Super Bowl", as described here today can be used metaphorically and replaced by any abnormally popular city wide event in which last minute demand is high. These can include the Kentucky Derby, heavy weight championship bouts, running with the bulls, Daytona or Indy 500's, regattas, marathons, soccer championships, conventions, NCAA finals, the World Series, NBA finals and many more. Despite the wisdom RM's and DOS's gain over the years, alternative strategies will at times bring confrontation from detractors who will question theory, make disparaging remarks and in some cases go on attack. The intellectuals confront you; the cowards whisper from behind.When you've lived through certain events, you use those lessons with confidence. And that confidence gains momentum over the years. Above all, you must have the courage and conviction to stay the course. Risk only exists when you don't have the history of experiences that insures optimal results from your decision making. Your wisdom enables you to steer the ship with confidence. And in these circumstances...YOU hopefully are given the reins to steer the ship.The following metrics are real. I sometimes joke with peers and say that "out of 4 Super Bowls I won 2... decisively!" In an attempt to be as accurate as possible, I went back to old financial data from each of those four Super Bowls and used the first 2 to arrive at the metrics I call a "Typical Hotel Super Bowl" in blue, below. During those first 2 Super Bowls I feel that I followed the conventional wisdom that most hotels do in creating Super Bowl strategy.First of all, a $1,280,800 week in a 3.5 diamond hotel, in its own right, needs no amplification. Add to that, that we out performed typical hotels who followed conventional revenue wisdom by $491,425 and it is equally as difficult to absorb. Yet the reality is that we stayed the course despite many distractions and detractors. My hotel principles were absentee owners and I shared what I was doing toward Super Bowls with them and was always grateful for their support. With other executives questioning my actions, I was thankful for the backing and trust, but despite this these can still be difficult roads to manage psychologically.You know I sometimes thought, why not just go with the conventional wisdom everyone else did and save myself a great deal of anguish! After all, all properties sold out during Super Bowls. Everyone did well and frankly, at the end of the day some owners never realize how much additional wealth, stellar revenue management provides to them on such occasions! This is the hard sad truth for many RM's and DOS's.But with that said, I like to think that I have always had the same fire in my belly that most revenue managers do. As critical thinkers we could never be satisfied just to succeed. When opportunity knocks, critical thinkers answer. Events like Super Bowls create special opportunities to create vast wealth and roll up the score.I've had the great honor to get to know so many revenue executives over the years and in discussion have come to know that the vast majority simply can't, in good conscious, retire at night believing that revenues are ever left "on the table". Yes, the mental toll can be exhausting and yet we all know that to achieve greatness and leave our mark we must test all possible considerations and exploit what we've grown to know ~ wisdom after all is part of what makes us great and unique. We add to that revenue wisdom each and every day!Super BowlsA day after the semi-final games I opened all 495 units up for sale. For 24 hours we tested a 7 night minimum length of stay restriction and then pulled back to 6 nights. We maintained a very healthy rate and navigated our way, at times going a little higher in order to control the pace of reservations. We wanted to be able to wait for possible 7, 8 or 9 nighters without selling out to quickly at 6 nights! We succeeded and sold out the day before game day. Yes I can say looking back that we USED TIME WISELY (http://www.hospitalitynet.org/news/4082294.html ) and achieved optimal results!We gave Expedia 5 reservations and Wholesaler / Receptive Operators took another 30. That was it and we held tight from there.Our market manager from Expedia called 3 weeks out to see if we had any rooms we could spare. I said sure, I have 495! Some responses you just can never forget. She said, Richard.... "Are you crazy?" "You're going to get stuck with rooms". I gave her 5 reservations. I never faltered.My hotel owner stopped in town for a night and during dinner said, "by the way how are you doing with your Super Bowl reservations?" As before, I said I haven't sold anything because I was holding out until after the semi-finals. Like with Expedia the response first brought an awkward silence followed by.... "Ok Richard, are you sure?" I was. The principles were rewarded amply.There are times when writers describe what true loneliness feels like. It's something that resonates deep in your sole. I must tell you that one month prior to my Super Bowl #3 in 2007, felt like one of the loneliest periods of my life. I truly felt the weight of my decisions on my shoulders. And as I've already said, that burden is always amplified by colleagues who are constantly questioning and challenging your reasoning. But prevailing confidence won those days.I'm glad to report that in 2010, for my Super Bowl #4, no such anxiety existed. Finally, I had nothing but confidence because I had lived through and knew exactly what to expect. Detractors, that 4th Super Bowl year no longer existed. They had all learned the value of wisdom and became believers.Yes I won my last two Super Bowls. But only truly enjoyed the last one!To reiterate, it would always have been so easy to have gone with conventional wisdom in filling hotels over the years during special events. But the internal consequences would have been severe and left me with little joy. Critical thinkers love to be challenged and win! Bucking Super Bowl Conventional Wisdom.Super Bowl demand in warm weather climates is un-paralleled, no matter the teams, the weather, the distance or even when catastrophe strikes demand is unwavering.Hotels within a 10 mile radius of stadiums typically have the ability to sell out (our unconstrained demand study showed that we turned away enough reservations to have filled our hotels 3x if we had used a 5 night MLOS restriction) within the 2 week period immediately preceding game day with high length of stay restrictions and strong rates.Hurricane Ida moved through New Orleans in November, 2009 and the Saints played the Super Bowl in Miami in February, 2010. I hesitated for a moment, thinking that the after math of the devastation in New Orleans might have an impact on the turn out. But I stayed the course and there was no discernable change from other Super Bowl years that was noteworthy.Cities that host the Super Bowl seem to breathe a collective sigh of relief when New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and/or other large city teams make it to the final game. Despite this conventional wisdom, my 4 experiences showed that the city from which teams came barely mattered! The following teams played in Miami from 1995 to 2010; San Francisco, San Diego, Denver, Atlanta, Indianapolis (2x), Chicago and New Orleans. Hotel demand never wavered and was equally as strong each and every year.Be warned, many attendees will try to entice you to provide lower prices and stay restrictions early on. The NFL, your Convention Bureau, NFL Alumni, NFL Hall of Fame, Networks, Executives and the like will all come out of the wood work early on requesting 2 to 4 night reservations and wanting low rates for large blocks. Resist the temptation. After testing the market you will find your "sweet spot" and I believe like me you will find that to be close to 6 nights!Be warned, many will attempt to put fear in your heart by telling you that your methodology is not sound. Many will tell you that you need to fill your hotel in a similar manner to which you normally approach sell outs; in tiers, at different rates, at different thresholds. But wisdom tells you that there are few events like a Super Bowl and there is nothing normal about your approach to it. Resist. Don't waiver. Stay the course. In this case the end result was a gain of $491,425 over competitors.As one who relies on revenue management tools, history and current market conditions and trends to make decisions I rarely deviate in my methodology. In many cases conventional revenue wisdom is close to the truth. But in certain cases (cases in which you've suffered the blood, sweat and tears of experience) old time wisdom prevails. Don't fear it; embrace it. Don't let others dissuade you; follow "your gut instinct"~ let wisdom prevail!
The Revenue Report Card - 21 April 2017
"Time is on Your Side" to baby boomers is a famous song title and lyric by the Rolling Stones. It also should be the rallying cry of today's Revenue Manager.Ten years ago I had just taken the "revenue reins" at a new hotel and was getting to know everyone. Beginning days are often filled with pleasant hellos and polite conversations and I stayed the course! The Director of Sales at some point moseyed into my office and I could see right away that he was very excited to show me something.After some small talk Juan took out his "reservation control report". With great pride he showed me a sold out Saturday that was 2 months away that he explained, happened primarily because of a group he brought in for this one night.It was a proud moment for him. It was an eye opening event for me! I simply didn't have the heart to tell him. But I knew at some point I would have to pick that moment carefully and discuss TIME and REVENUE STRATEGY with him in a positive way.With 50+ and 40+ units left to sell on the Thursday and Friday immediately preceding that sold out date and 60+ on the Sunday following (Exhibit "A")..... it was as close to a revenue management catastrophe as you could get!In that 2 month lead-in TIME we could have managed our "unsold unit parity" from that Wednesday through Saturday and more than likely filled 3 nights and moved the mark on that Wednesday as well.. That result, of course, would have been that we better maximize our revenues and profitability.In managing revenues when time is plentiful and before assured sell out dates that "TIME" is the equivalent of money in the bank. Those precious minutes, hours, days and weeks before sell-out dates must be guarded and "SPENT" with great care. "Over spending" in advance often equates to wasted opportunities, deficient optimization and "money left on the table".How are you "spending" your time?!"Spending" Options!We have two options in "spending" our time.Holding all or most of our inventory to wait for a late expected surge to release units.Release inventory slowly and methodically over time.Every week is unique. DEMAND is our father clock.1) Holding all or most of our inventory to wait for a late expected surge to release units would better serve hotels during guaranteed high demand periods like special events. In south Florida the Super Bowl, the Ultra Music Festival and the Boat Show allow those in the know to use 6, 5 and 5 night minimum length of stay restrictions with solid rates from early on.The best use of TIME involving these 3 south Florida special events would be to place the higher rate and restriction on appropriate dates one year in advance and stay the course. Some might argue this philosophy but there are times when old timer wisdom wins out over scientific equation!2) Releasing inventory slowly and methodically over time serves weekend resorts who sell out consistently.Here perhaps setting your "minimum length of stay" restriction one year out a little more aggressively than your "average length of stay" on that same weekend in the prior year, could serve you well. Needless to say, it's a little more complex than that, but it's good to be on offense and to set the stage early. Selling low and short early, leaves money on the table later.I have always felt that the beauty of revenue management is that we almost can't make a mistake if we're paying attention every day. Let me explain.For most of us it's a constant challenge "test and pull back", "test and pull back". If I'm always monitoring my demand and how I'm filling compared to prior years I can react quickly if my rates and/or restrictions are too aggressive and create resistance. But let's not forget that sometimes resistance is ok... if TIME allows the optimal to surface.Eventually we all find our sell-out "sweet spots" for each and every weekend; the perfect blend of rate and restriction.Unsold Unit ParityI manage my unsold unit parity from Wednesday through Saturday and keep those dates as tight as possible. I'm applying restrictions and manipulating rates as inventory on each day rises and falls, but is kept in check by the decisions and tweaks made.An interesting Study of time management philosophyI've studied the metrics of some of the hotels I've had the pleasure to serve and decided to put pencil to paper to show what TIME management can mean to Gross Reservation Revenues and profitability.In Exhibit "A.1" and "A.2" below, the hotel sells out two weeks in advance of the arrival date.In Exhibit "B.1" and "B.2"the hotel holds back and doesn't sell out until the Friday of that weekend; using those 2 extra weeks to (in "B.1" and "B.2") wait for optimal reservations of 3 or more nights.We know that weekends in both cases will sell out and so in both Exhibit "A" and Exhibit "B" Fridays and Saturdays are full.Using TIME wisely allows the property in Exhibit "B" to increase sales on Wednesday and Thursday, in my estimation by 3% and 11% respectively. At the same time I show a $5, $5, $10 and $10 increase on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday in ADR. The philosophy as we get "closer-in" to those sell out dates, and as demand creates more compression, is that both these factors rise as demand increases.So let's take a conservative peak at these assumptions and what they could do in terms of our annual Gross Reservation Revenues and profitability.As always I use southeast Florida as an example and here we have 13 weeks that are in-season and 39 weeks that are off-season. The hotel in the example is 125 units.Simple Hotel in Exhibit "A" is not using good time management strategy. They have an 80.4% occupancy percentage and a $196.21 ADR.Simple Hotel in Exhibit "B" uses better time management strategy. They have an 82.9% occupancy percentage and a $201.14 ADR.Gross Reservation Revenue in Exhibit "A" is $7,180,225 and in Exhibit "B" $7,582,900.This produces a $402,675 increase in Gross Reservation Revenues annually. That's a 6% increase in Gross Reservation Revenues! And if the hotel is bringing 19% to the bottom line it's $76,508 more in Net Profit! Not bad for a 125 unit hotel!More Benefits from Time Management - Channel MixSo far my examination of Simple Hotel is.... simple! But here's where it gets a little bit more exhilarating!During the aforementioned 2 week TIME period (Exhibit "A" & "B"), I usually take the PACE of each revenue channel (shown in Exhibit "C" below) to determine whether they are ahead of last year's sellout PACE.If I'm a good deal ahead in, let's say, the Website and Repeat Guest channels, I see if I can become mathematically comfortable that we can reach the sell out if I close or restrict some of the less profitable channels. I don't like shutting down channels altogether but this is always an option.Needless to say, the earlier I can become comfortable and make this decision, the more profitable the hotel will be.I'm bringing more to the bottom line by carefully displacing business in sellouts by pushing more business through my most profitable channels.Channel Mix actions can push that 19% profit margin higher; 20% - 21%!?Do you know the peeking order of channels, from lowest cost to highest at your property? These change every month!!Hoping you "spend" your TIME wisely!!
The Revenue Report Card - 4 April 2017
Is stating that the industry standard of ADR and RevPAR "is an imperfect science" a provocative statement?Two ocean front hotels (Exhibit "A") sit side by side; each has the exact same ADR, Occupancy, Number of Units and RevPAR. Yet "Your Hotel" deposits and shows a net profit of $700,000 more than 'Your Neighbors Hotel" because of "channel mix" and the "merchant model effect".The "merchant model" of payment has been used by wholesalers, receptive-operators and until recently, most on-line travel agents (hereafter "OTA's"). The merchant model effect is a game changer in analytics.The ProblemThe industry currently calculates Average Daily Rate (hereafter "ADR") and RevPAR by combining the revenues of two uniquely different payment-sources. The first has their customers pay the hotel in full at check-in (they are paid their commissions at a later date by hotel check, credit card or ACH) and the second, a third party, accepts full payment directly from the customer and then removes their commission before paying the hotel (this is called paying the hotel in NET / or is a company that has a Merchant Model relationship with the hotel).It's easy to see the flaw here; we're combing two totally different payment methods and treating them as if they were the same when we calculate hotel Gross Reservation Revenue. But in doing this we are mixing apples and oranges!The case is best shown when one guest pays the Receptive Operator $250 for a one night stay at your hotel (using the merchant model in paying the hotel) and another guest pays "Your Hotel" $250 in the full amount (without the commission removed). Exhibit "B".For simplicity's sake, let's assume the hotel is paying (1) direct pay and (2) merchant model reservation sources a 25% commission.The Receptive Operator sends a payment to the hotel for that night for $187.50 ($250 - $62.50 commission).The OTA, on the other hand, has the client pay the hotel $250 at check-in in the full amount for that night.The hotel, on that evening, accrues/collects a total of $437.50 from both transactions ($250.00 + $187.50).The industry standard ADR calculation takes total Gross Reservation Revenues of $437.50 and divides that amount by the 2 room nights occupied for an ADR of $218.75. The reality however is that both guests paid the same $250 to stay at the hotel and so doesn't that mean that the real ADR should be $250 ($500 / 2 units occupied)?Further, the industry standard RevPAR calculation also uses total Gross Reservation Revenues of $437.50 and divides that amount by the total units available to sell that night. To simplify the example, let's assume here that hotel occupancy, on this night was 50%, and that the hotel had a total number of 4 units available for sale. The RevPAR calculated by industry standard would be $109.38. But as before, the dilemma is that the real RevPAR should be $125 ($500 / 4 units available for sale that night).The hotel financial statement (shown on Exhibit "C in the left column) shows total Gross Reservation Revenues of $437.50 ($500 less merchant model commissions of $62.50 for the merchant model transaction). The "Commission Expense" line item below Gross Reservation Revenues is from the other, non-merchant model transaction, in the amount of $62.50. You can see the inconsistency here.The Net Income in both cases is $375.00. Yet the merchant model business commission "is hidden" within the Gross Reservation Revenue line (circled in red above).The outcome is that the hotel executive never sees or is able to visually quantify this part of the cost equation; Gross Reservation Revenue is reduced with no explanation and, in turn, ADR and RevPAR are also reduced.One can only draw the conclusion then, when comparing "Your Hotel" to your competitive set, that the standard industry calculation of ADR and RevPAR is an imperfect science; unless all hotels in your Competitive Set have exactly the same Channel Mix.The Calculation: How did we get to the $700k differential?Let me show you how, in this case, "channel mix" coupled with "merchant model" contribution allowed "Your Hotel" to outperform "Your Neighbors Hotel" by $700,000 despite all industry standard metric evidence to the contrary.Exhibit D above, entitled "Channel Mix & Merchant Model Effect" shows "Your Hotel" and "Your Neighbors Hotel" are each using four revenue channels in your revenue channel mix. Two sources are full payment straight to the hotel and two sources are net payment via the merchant model arrangement.OTA merchant model,OTA guest pays full amount at check-in,Hotel - Vanity Web Site guest pays full amount at check-in,Wholesale merchant model.Each hotel shows Gross Reservations Revenues of $10,000,000.Each hotel has 118 rooms available for sale and uses industry standard calculations that show ADR of $330, Occupancy Percentage of 70 1/2 % and RevPAR of $232.The only difference that separates "Your Hotel" from "Your Neighbors Hotel" is Channel Mix.Here's where the two hotel performances part ways. If you take a specific look at the two merchant model channels I identified above ((1)OTA Merchant Model and (2) Wholesale Merchant Model) you can see the large hidden differentials between the columns that show what the "Guest Pays" and what the "Hotel Receives" (below). As I've said the hotel executive can not see this differential on a financial statement.Let's look at the "OTA - Merchant Model" line item, specifically to see that the OTA using the merchant model method in collecting $3,888,888 directly from the guest and then they turn around and pay "Your Hotel" $2,800,000 for that business. As already stated the $1,088,888 that was the OTA commissions are not seen by anyone. Secondly, both (1) your financial statement and (2) your industry calculated ADR & RevPAR uses that $2,800,000 in Gross Reservation Revenues when they calculate your ADR and RevPAR.Now please go to upper portion of Exhibit "D" and look at the line entitled "Average Daily Rate" and the line entitled "Annual RevPAR" and you will see that despite that your industry calculated ADR and RevPAR shows $330 and $232, respectively... the actual ADR and RevPAR should be $424 and $299 after placing all channels on an equal playing field (here we simply add back the commissions that were withheld in merchant market arrangements). The substantial differences of $94 and $67 tell the true tale of the tape regarding real ADR & RevPAR when all channels are placed on an equal playing field.As important, you can now compare your actual ADR & RevPAR of $424 and $299 to that of your neighbor's hotel (or your competitive set) who's earned an actual ADR & RevPAR of $362 and $255. The true score/ comparison then is that "Your Hotel" earned a $62 and $44 higher ADR and RevPAR then your neighbor. This is why you have deposited $700,000 more in your bank then he/she has!Viewing your industry metrics would make you believe that "Your Hotel" and "Your Neighbors Hotel" were both performing at the same level. As an owner, a manager or a management company you would falsely be led to believe that you were taking market share here and at least performing at the same level as your direct competitor. Industry metrics does not show you that "Your Hotels" channel mix was far superior to "Your Neighbors Hotel" channel mix and that, that enabled "Your Hotel" to deposit $700,000 more into the bank and also show $700,000 more in profit then your neighbor! That's the true tail of the tape!The Optimization ScoreThe Optimization Scores shown (see Exhibit "A") are 88.9 and 83.1 for "Your Hotel" and "Your Neighbors Hotel", respectively. In the calculation used to arrive at SCORES we "grosses up" all merchant model channels by the commission withheld by the vendors. Once done, we can then add those results directly to other revenue channel cost. All channels are then on a level playing field of comparison.Occupancy countsFinally, since Optimization Scores must take occupancy success into consideration I've used a factor that corrects the total SCORE by your success level indicated by your occupancy. Having an extremely high ADR of $1,000, at face value, would seem to be great, but if on further examination your occupancy is at 33%...well that's not so good!!The benchmark score of 88.9 above came from (1) your hotel overall combined revenue channel cost of 19.4% (2) in subtracting that cost from 100.0% (100.0% - 19.4%) we arrive at 80.6%, and then (3) multiplying that "revenue profit after channel cost percentage" by a factor that places a 70.5% occupancy achievement in a scoring range (see below) that is common. In this case 70.5% is multiplied by 1.103 to arrive at 88.9%.100.0% less 19.4% - 80.6 multiplied by 1.103 = 88.9The final step would be to use that 88.9 score as a benchmark and then compare it to your subsequent achievement scores. This would allow revenue managers to identify and improve hotel profitability by optimizing channel mix and the amount of merchant model business entertained. It also gives the Revenue Manager a way to show executive management the level to which his/her actions have contributed the the hotels bottom line!If you wished to take this one step further, you could make this calculation monthly and examine month over month inroads to higher profitability.Scoring Range90%-100% elite!80%-89% excellent70%-79% good60%-69% fair 50%-59% requires attention.
The Revenue Report Card - 25 January 2017
I was reviewing our hotel financial statement with the owner and as usual the second highest expense line item was "towels & linens".The owner was incensed and turned to me and said "I've had enough of this. Guests are killing us by stealing our towels! I want to put a device at the front door that sets off an alarm when someone tries to leave with our towels".I calmed him down but really didn't know what to say. Yes "towel cost" is always high. But this has been the case at every hotel I've ever worked at. I told him that "some of our best customers were probably taking a towel or two" and we'd be better off to just absorb it as a cost of doing business and not embarrass good repeat guests.But I left that discussion really wanting to understand the metric. Were a vast amount of our guests really packing up our towels!? You've seen the cartoons and heard the jokes about stealing hotel towels. Haven't you?! You can see a few in Exhibits "B", at article end.I went to work and completed the following metric study (Exhibit "A").First question, did the study cause you to look and think twice?! Does it in any way make you rethink the age old adage - that "guests are stealing a huge number of towels?!77.6% (above) of annual "towel and linen" purchases comes from bed linens! At $108, $114 and $111 (3.5 diamond) per dozen being paid for various linen types it's evident that the lion's share of the "towel & linen" expense line comes from bed linens; not towels! Are bed linen being stolen?!I called my friend Dennis Greenwald whose family has been in the towel and linen business for 3 generations (Hurricane Towels and Linens provided me with the prices above) and I really drilled into the metrics with him.Here is what I learned; towels and linens typically have a different mixtures of cotton and polyester. Both towels & linens typically can be washed 50 times before almost all of the cotton is washed out of the item and at that point should be retired. At that point, if you hold a sheet up to the light, you can see through it in certain spots. The polyester is holding the item together.Still, if no one is looking over the executive housekeepers shoulder, he or she may continue to use towels & linens for up to 80 washes or more before retiring them. If you look at Exhibit "A" you can see that I was very liberal and used more than 50 washes in the metric study (before retiring items).Next comes towel loss through damage and theft. It could be lipstick, grease, a kitchen spill, a guests need to clean his/her bicycle, motorcycle or car and other situations that arise. All of these things contribute to "towel loss" and cause towels to be retired well before useful lives are over.Finally, there is "theft". This can come in the form of "guests taking" or "staff stealing". Sometimes guests go to the beach with what they feel are disposable towels. Or joggers take wash cloths to dab sweat from their brows. I sometimes wonder if I went to housekeeper's homes if I'd find their bathrooms fully stocked with hotel towels & linens (it's not a malicious thought, I've become less trusting over the years through life experiences)! And I once was sitting in my office, later than anyone expected, and watched a large box of towels going over the top of wall! These occurrences are why we hotel and vacation rental operators believe we're taking a big "towel" hit on our financials.To reiterate, however, the vast majority of what we're spending is tied up in linens (i.e. - fitted sheets, flat sheets & short flat sheets) and they are the most expensive components of our "towel & linen" purchases. So a flaw seems to exist in our theory.My "logical" beliefs, still tell me that most of what is walking out of our "front doors" are hand towels (at $16 a dozen) and wash cloths (at $6.50 a dozen)! Hardly substantial costs. I'd also like to think that bath towels, at $55.57 per dozen, are NOT making a mass exodus through theft!? Am I wrong?Sheets costing $108 to $150 a dozen, I believe are less likely to be stolen then bath towels. But again, this is my assumption.So in summary, whatever "towels" ARE walking out of "front doors" simply can't seem to be "material" (so to speak!) items. :)Maybe it's time to reassess and dispel old beliefs in order to better understand our second highest line item in the Rooms Division department.Faith in humanity, partially restored!!
The Revenue Report Card - 20 January 2017
A study of the "Mega Vacation Rental" business model (companies with a minimum of fifty and often hundreds of rental units) shows some significant differences when comparing their operations and metrics to their established hotel industry brethren.While the Vacation Rental industry, in this new P2P environment, is young and continues to evolve, it's important that certain comparisons be made to its older transient-rental relative (hotels). After all, traditional hotel metrics have been established over many decades of perfecting that business model and many of those metrics are comparable to the Mega Vacation Rental business.The Mega Vacation Rental business, driven on the whole by a younger generation, has in many ways brought several new and fresh approaches to the transient-rental equation. One of these has been to turn over the complete housekeeping responsibility (including the purchase of all related supplies) to new hybrid housekeeping businesses. This new housekeeping model creates a simpler and more cost efficient solution to Mega Vacation Rental Companies.This new hybrid housekeeping businesses, are no longer being hired to solely provide labor. Instead, in exchange for a set fee (see Exhibit "A", below) these companies take full responsibility for every aspect of unit turnover.For a set fee per cleaning, they become responsible for purchasing towels, linens, shampoos, conditioners, lotions soaps, toilet paper, facial tissue and of course for cleaning the apartments and readying them for the next occupant.This "simplification" in combining all housekeeping costs into that one fee provides Vacation Rental accounting departments' with a clear and simple advantage. Bookkeeping and budgeting becomes simple and there is no longer a need to account for housekeeping inventories, order supplies and/or purchase equipment (i.e. vacuums).Essentially, placing burdens that were once the responsibility of the Vacation Rental Company onto the independent, reduces a number of "the moving parts" that can make the Vacation Rental businesses difficult to manage.Here, as in any new business consideration, "the devil is in the details" and a good solid contract must outline responsibilities and expectations. It is essential that this company perform background checks, establish a code of conduct, and adhere to a reporting system that quickly relays unit conditions, provides workman's compensation and enforces personal hygiene rules, to name a few things.Maintenance departments in Vacation Rental businesses also differ from "hotel models" in that they become "profit centers" (and act as businesses within businesses). That is not to say that they necessarily will earn a profit, but revenues generated in that department can greatly offset overall maintenance cost.The following is a screen cast I narrated on Condo-Hotels many years ago. It is very relevant to this discussion since Vacation Rentals and Condo Hotels both have the ability to earn revenues in their Maintenance Departments.Work performed for rental apartment owners, is typically billed with a 20% - 25% markup (this is still provides the apartment owner with substantial savings over having the work performed by an independent outside contractor) so there is a benefit to the owner combined with the revenue opportunity to the VRC. The hurdle is in managing the logistics of staff, and materials.I've now discussed two of the three Roving Service Agent positions, (1) housekeeping and (2) maintenance and the last and perhaps the most challenging is the (3) Roving Service Agent "in the field" and who is responsible for guests.Whereas a hotel operates within the set boundaries of a property, Vacation Rental homes/apartments are often spread out over large areas. Managing the logistics of the "in the field" staff is often the greatest challenge in the Mega Vacation Rental business. Roving Service Agent's that are responsible for "guests" have a lot of responsibility placed on their shoulders and are often not appropriately supported, When this occurs the position will see a lot of turn-over (in fact burn out). A six day work week is OK, but based on my experience no more than 55 hours (that includes "on-call time") should be asked of any agent. Please also keep in mind that Vacation Rental businesses that insist that their Roving Service Agent's, work as independent contractors, when over 40 hours a week are required, and contributes to the high turnover mentioned.While smart phones and related APPS are (i) used to monitor flights, (ii) text message and/or (iii) call incoming guests, Roving Service Agents still find themselves with a great deal of "wait time". This is why consideration must be given when hiring to finding "local" RSA's. It lightens this burden considerably. Flights that are delayed still have guests that have to be checked-in. I offer some "best practices" in the book to remedy this situation.Mega Vacation Rental Companies are well served in having a centrally located check-in office (that can also double as a housekeeping and maintenance departments). Real Estate Agents who are involved in Vacation Rentals enjoy the benefit of having their offices serve them in this way.After many years I've come to the conclusion that the KEY TO THE SUCCESS of any Mega Vacation Rental Company will always be in mastering the logistics process of their Roving Service Agents.Replacing Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment (FF&E packages) in rental apartments is, like in hotels, just part of the equation. It must be done every 5 to 6 years.Here we see another unique solution on the horizon that is to be made available through Vacation Rental programs to apartment owners. An independent company is offering different caliber "FF&E packages" to rental programs via operating leases. They require limited upfront cash and are paid from Vacation Rental proceeds.An example of this could be that a $9,000 "FF&E Package" would be provided to unit owners at a cost of $225 a month with no money down. That lease payment is made by the Vacation Rental Company from apartment rental proceeds. If during the lease, a television or a dining room seat needs to be replaced, new items are simply placed into the unit and the monthly lease payment of $225 remains the same.In summary, the Mega Vacation Rental business sees a lot of smart "out of the box" thinking that, in many cases, saves time and money. Challenges in this space are often unique to it and the result of the "off-site" nature of Vacation Rentals. But a great deal of the things Vacation Rental Companies do and money they spend is exactly the same as that experienced by hotels (i.e. - guest supplies, cleaning supplies, towel & linen useful life, staffing, etc.). It is why using hotel metrics and modifying them where necessary provides accurate results.I use the annual Host Report (by Smith Travel) and modify it to arrive at potential profitability. If you making a commitment to being "MEGA" in size and nature these studies are mandatory and should be considered.I've been an executive in the Vacation Rental, Hotel and Condo Hotel business for over 25 years and served over 4 million guests. I just completed a book entitled "The Definitive Study of Vacation Rentals" and I'd be very pleased to share, "Chapter 6 - the Roving Service Manager" with you as a gift. Just drop me a line at RichE1212@gmail.com.My VR Blog can be found at http://vacationrentalanswers.simplesite.com/
The Revenue Report Card - 6 June 2016
Having been part of the revival in south beach, Florida in the late 1980's and early 1990's I'm seeing things in Hollywood Beach Florida that are reminiscent of that time and place; blighted areas, local tourist traffic, structures in need of repair and "the arrival of new owners, builders, hotels, patrons and guests"; all of which make for an interesting comparison, from here to there, now to then.I can't help but sense the same optimism, cynicism in the air accompanied by changes to tourist mix and the flow of booking patterns. I had lived through this once before a long time ago!At the Avalon, Majestic, Penguin and National Hotels on South Beach we painted old art deco furniture, left the rooms sparse and called it "minimalistic design"... and tourists came in droves. They couldn't get enough of it! Fast forward 25 years and South Beach has matured and is now referred to as one of the top tourist destinations in the world. I certainly am not saying that Hollywood Beach has the same type of appeal that south beach does; nor will or should it. But Hollywood Beach certainly does have their own laid back charm and appeal that makes it a unique destination in their own right.Upon the completion of Margaritaville this past year, Hollywood Beach, saw a slight uptick in reservations, busy weekends, higher occupancies and higher daily rates. In south beach, when comparing our initial "rebirth year" to those immediately preceding it, you could say that it could best be described as a quantum leap! With the way things are unfolding on Hollywood Beach one could project that 2017 and 2018 will be those quantum leap years.On Ocean Drive our front porch/curbside restaurants began to thrive. We introduced live music for our patrons to enjoy as they dined. We placed a model, a food display and a menu board on the side walk to entice those strolling down the heavily trafficked sidewalk to join us for lunch or dinner. Walking down the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk is more casual affair and while I don't see the models of SOBE (!), I do note that the foot traffic is heavy and that waitresses are calling out to potential patrons from the cafe's and both they and the bars are busier than I ever remembered!In South Beach in our initial winter we saw a substantial increase in occupancy and rate; with the occupancy topping out at 75% annually. Not bad, compared to the year prior, where the hotels were running annually in the low to mid 60% range annually. (Jumping ahead to today, you will frequently find occupancies in the mid to high 80% range!) Summers in south beach then were "ghost town like" and that can be seen here in Hollywood Beach today.The Historic Perspective of Hollywood BeachIt is interesting to note that Hollywood Beach has historically been a difficult destination to market and one could say "with a bit of an identity problem". With Fort Lauderdale immediately to the north and taking the lion's share of attention and Miami Beach to the south, it has been difficult to market Hollywood Beach. While on the west coast of the USA Hollywood CA thrived, Hollywood FL did not. If anything, Hollywood Beach's "claim to fame" was that it was described as a "blue collar" destination. No frills, easy and casual. If that was indeed true, then some might say that the addition of Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville was a good fit to that local genre.Margaritaville arrived this past year and joined the Marriott Beach Resort (to the north) as the only other respectable large resort on the beach. To the south sat and sits the old behemoth "castle" known as Hollywood Beach Resort. This magnificent structure, with its rich history should in its own right be the southern pearl of Hollywood Beach. Yet for decades it has been a challenged property that has always had incredible potential.As one drives down Hollywood Blvd., past the tall palm trees situated on each side of the road, this amazing structure comes into view. It serves as both the gateway to Hollywood Beach and a well-known landmark that one can never forget. It is both appealing and majestic.Like the Versace Mansion located on Ocean Drive, it too was in dilapidated condition then. It became one of the anchor properties on Ocean Drive once renovated and likewise everyone on Hollywood Beach believes that a remedy will ultimately come to the Hollywood Beach Resort. That said, this properties restoration, relaunch and repositioning will be key to completing the Hollywood Beach landscape. With three large thriving properties along the Broadwalk, each with its own brand and appeal, Hollywood Beach will be well on its way.Other comparisons and similarities to the revival of south beach.Hotels on Ocean Drive in South Beach, and those that sit on the Broadwalk in Hollywood Beach, both sit immediately across from sandy beaches of the Atlantic Ocean; each provides an international assortment of cafe's and eateries. South Beach has become much more sophisticated over the years but believe me, we started out very simply back then. Much the same as in south beach, the broadwalk cafe's and bars provide live music and the atmosphere in both locations while different, is vibrant and fun.Perhaps one of the biggest differences in comparing the rise of South Beach and what is occurring in Hollywood Beach is the introduction of the large anchor hotel properties in each of the areas and the role they each play(ed). In South Beach it was, Loews Resort and in Hollywood Beach it is Margaritaville Resort. Loew's was added to an established maturing market, while Margaritaville is helping to define the Hollywood Beach market. Loew's was built to provide their guests with privacy, while Margaritaville has in many ways opened its doors to be "the main event and attraction on the beach". If surrounding hotels embrace this, they can provide an add-on benefit to what they provide to their guests. Live entertainment each night in the Margaritaville band shell, adjacent to the property and on the ocean, provides an open outdoor music venue with a variety of performers from 7pm to 9pm Wednesdays to Sundays. What's more, the band shell is an easy walk from anywhere on the island and creates instant energy to all locations within a quarter mile of it.Lumus Park is located in South Beach and is situated between the row of hotels on Ocean Drive and the beach. This area is primarily used for skating, cycling and ball playing. Hollywood Beach has, what is referred to as, a Broadwalk. This is a wide path, with a section devoted exclusively to jogging, bicycles, roller blades, and other exercise related vehicles. There is no shortage of bicycle rental availability in either location and like South Beach, Hollywood Beach has well defined bicycle lanes on public roads.From volley ball tournaments to triathlons, concerts to organized sightseeing tours, like south beach the city of Hollywood has a multitude of well attended events.Hotels, Motels, Inns & HostelsThe island consists of a number of small (some historic) hotels, motels and inns. Although they don't offer the same appeal from a historic perspective as that of their art deco counterparts in South Beach, a number have been renovated and are quite charming."Casa Pellegrino Hotel" is one of those small charming luxury properties. In the same immediate area, the Dolphin Hotel has recently drawn renderings for an upscale property that should break ground soon. Another property worthy of mention, and that is both sizable and nearing completion, is "the Melia Costa Hollywood Beach Resort". This is a formidable luxury condo-resort.Needless to say, combining acreage or building on existing vacant parcels (a number are available) would allow for larger projects.As is the case on south beach, parking and traffic is a problem. While several smaller roads allow limited travel, Ocean Drive on Hollywood Beach is the main thoroughfare that is fed by 3 roads onto the island. The expansion of the Fort Lauderdale airport is worthy of mention as new international flights are on the rise and more area traffic is anticipated. The cruise industry is also a good feeder to this area and the port of Fort Lauderdale is only miles away.In conclusionThe early and mid-1980's, saw the beginning of acquisitions that lead to the rebirth of South Beach. This occurred in the late 1980's. That initial "changing of the guard" saw some exceptional buying opportunities. While it may be getting later in the Hollywood Beach "changing of the guard" there are still a number of properties available for sale and at reasonable prices. Beauty, of course is in the eye of the beholder! I'm not a realtor, just an observer.The vibe of Hollywood Beach is a reality and there are nights that I walk down the Broadwalk and something will cause me to flash back to those early south beach days. This small "sleepy beach front town", appears to have many of the ingredients that South Beach once did that could make it thrive!
The Revenue Report Card - 27 May 2016
The following presentation is that of a real hotel. The name of the property has been changed.The properties Channel Mix for the first quarter ended March 31, 2016 is shown on the left side of the chart below. Each 'revenue channel' groups reservation-vendors who share a common Key Performance Indicator together. The "KPI" is mentioned in the title of the revenue channel.The amount of the gross reservation revenues in each channel is its contribution to overall gross reservation revenues. This is shown as a percentage in column 2 below. (I.e. the Wholesaler Receptive Operator on the chart below has contributed 32.4% of the properties gross reservation revenues.Each channel offers units for sale at an Average Daily Rate (ADR). The ADR is shown in column 3 below. In cases where a reservation vendor, such as Wholesaler Receptive Operator, pays the hotel after commissions are deducted, the rate is GROSSED UP so to place it on an equal footing with all other channels in comparison. (I.e. the Wholesaler Receptive Operator actually paid this hotel a NET RATE of $196; this was adjusted to $269).It's a given that each revenue channel has three cost components (1) Commissions, (2) Sales & Marketing Labor and (3) Promotion. The combined costs are divided by each channels gross reservation revenues to arrive at the COST PERCENTAGE of that channel. Each line below shows a COST.The last column provides the "change in profitability" that results when Channel Mix, Channel Rate and Channel Cost is changed.The left side of each column shows the actual channel mix, rate and cost tht M Hotel experienced in the first quarter ended March 31, 2016. The right side of each column shows the suggested channel mix, rate and cost goal, in order to achieve optimal profitability.Results shown below are drastic, showing additional REVENUE PROFIT earned in the 1st quarter of $284,054.The properties Competitive Set suggests that changes shown below are achievable and demand adequate in each revenue channel. For some properties this will not be possible to achieve in one year. Instead it should be possible to achieve over the course of two. An ambitious hotel could turn the full profit around, however, in one year.The key here is a new Website, content and photographs combined with the analysis of traffic flow through Google Analytics. Careful keyword selection, targeted high performance geographical areas and appropriate landing pages will begin the displacement in moving revenues from more costly channels to the website channel. Carefully track your PACE because that becomes an exceptional indicator of what is to come and how channels can be used.The area indicates that the hotel website should be easily capable of performing within a range of 18% to 28% of gross reservation revenues.The high occupancy achieved in the first quarter was exceptional and was the result of the extremely low rates offered in all other channels. The hotel needs to bring the majority of Revenue Channels (Website, Call in, OTA, GDS and Independent Travel Agent) up to meet that which is being successfully sold by the Wholesaler / Receptive Operators. The result will be that occupancy will appropriately decline. But as is seen, the profitability will be vast and material.What you have viewed is a SNAP SHOT of this hotels Channel Mix and, in turn, optimization for the first quarter. It can be used as a benchmark to compare future quarters too to judge effectiveness. It's a powerful tool!
The Revenue Report Card - 18 March 2016
Every component of hotel revenue can be measured and evaluated.By mastering each component, the revenue manager influences the hotels destiny by understanding how to stimulate hotel demand.Today I'd like to discuss On-line Travel Agent, Meta Sites and Opinion Sites. The latter two, of course feed into OTA sites.Let us assume that price, restrictions, content, pictures and amenities have been input satisfactorily and are conducive to potential guests looking for a hotel.The only thing that remains then is being able to place "Your Hotel" in front of potential guests for consideration. Your consistent presence on the first page along with higher placement on that page carries great influence.The model used below is that of a real hotel, data for which was taken yesterday.Results can be viewed in different ways. No two hotels would view these the same way. If Your Hotel is bringing in a satisfactory contribution of OTA business, while having maintained the positions below, they would be considered satisfactory. If, however, additional OTA business is desired, than interaction with certain site market managers could influence your position.It is always good to touch base and maintain good relations with each sites market manager. Visiting local offices, and perhaps even bringing in lunch for all those that are working so hard toward your success is a nice consideration! Don't overlook or underestimate it!The results that follow are the positions Your Hotel achieved yesterday.The column labeled "Average Position" is the combined result of polling that took place, first at 11am and then at 8pm.The full report included 3 additional OTA's that are not shown on the above report. Certain anomalies are adjusted by Revenue Report Card. It is important to remember that 90% of all hotel bookings come from the sites first page. Needless to say, the higher the position, the better.Each of the Opinion and Meta Sites, shown above, have attributes that make them more or less conducive to "Your Hotel". Global Rank, United States rank (for USA hotels), average page views and time engaged on the site are critical factors showing popularity and each sites ability to engage your potential guests.If your hotel typically entertains guests from countries shown above, those specific sites above should be in your focus and "Your Hotels" presence and position noted."Education" (as a pinpointing factor) could be viewed as an economic indicator. You can see that certain sites show high engagement of those completing graduate studies and undergraduate studies. Others have higher concentrations of No College or Some College. If you believe that this information has value in identifying the type of guest that is best suited for "Your Hotel", focus should be given to presence and position on those sites.High volume On-line Travel Agents shown above, also have characteristics that may be well suited to "Your Hotel".Needless to say, commission cost is a Key Performance Indicator that should be added to the study above. The majority of OTA sites use the Merchant Model form of payment, although several have adapted the "Direct Pay" method. Commission in both "direct pay" and "merchant model" typically run in a range of 15% to 31%. The NORM would fall between 15% and 22%.Labor/effort is another component that should be taken into consideration when evaluating OTA Channel Cost. This variable can be effected if "Your Hotel" provides OTA's with a direct connection to inventory. Blocking rooms can be done automatically or with human intervention. Required documentation at check in for international as apposed domestic guests is another factor. Any and all labor right up until the guest checks in creates OTA channel cost.Please keep in mind that what you've viewed above is merely a picture in time of ONE DAY. The study gains more value when monitored over time and you will obtain a better understanding of the generation of reservations from each site.Site algorithms react positively or negatively to certain occurring stimuli. If you've recently fallen off in position, you might look at rate parity or availability.Further advance your position through priority offerings or specials. Keep in mind, however, that specials usually bring a hidden additional charge by the OTA. Unsuspecting DOS's and/or Revenue Managers can be caught off guard believing that the same commission is being charged when a special is turned on. The mathematics change. Have your accounting department do a quick check the next time your OTA is pushing you hard to engage in a special. Perhaps you will gain a different understanding of why the big push! Surely surprises will follow!You can view the summary, shown below, on notes to this specific hotel.Whether you desire more or less business from OTA's is a hotel-by-hotel decision. Position that creates exposure is simply a matter of knowing how to turn on and off the facet! If you know how.... You can navigate the flow!If you would like Revenue Report Card to forward you an E Book we prepared on "Channel-by-Channel Revenue Attributes" kindly send your email address directly to me at RichE@RevenueReportCard.com and I'll immediately forward it. Through the study of many hotels and their channels we have become "experts" in typical channel-by-channel cost, actions and reactions. This study provides a simple, yet thorough overview of each channel and the contributing factors. I think you'll find it interesting and might add something to your revenue effort! RichEAlways remember - Channel Mix Matters! - #ChannelMixMatters
The Revenue Report Card - 11 March 2016
The two chief "compensation" components in any Hotel Management Agreement are the calculation of (1) base fees and (2) incentive fees. Typically base fees are calculated by multiplying a contracted percentage by Hotel Gross Revenues. Incentive fees, are typically calculated by multiplying a contracted percentage by the properties Gross Operating Profit. The discussion in today's narrative will focus on base fee. Incentive fees will be discussed in series article #2.Channel Mix, and the related Merchant Model Effect, have far reaching consequences to revenue production and profitability. As I've pointed out in previous narratives, the Merchant Model Effect paints a scientifically flawed view of performance. That is because hotel industry has always grouped these two fundamentally dissimilar revenue-sources (direct pay and merchant model) into the Gross Reservation Revenue line together. When the hotel is paid directly by guests, management base fees are calculated on the full amount paid. When the hotel is paid "NET", by a third party vendor, management base fees are calculated on the amount paid to the hotel AFTER the commission is deducted. See the illustration labeled page 3 of 8 below.The NET collection of fees can have significant implications on the base fee reward. Management companies overseeing resorts who have a moderate to high number of reservations from (merchant model) On-Line Travel Agents, Wholesalers, Receptives and Tour Operators are not receiving their just fee.Merchant model fees / commissions will typically range from 23% to 37%. You can see the impact these can have on management company base fees. Management companies are being short changed in the calculation of base fees.The following is a step-by-step view of how the base fee calculation is computed today and 4 different channel mix scenarios in which fees are calculated. The impact to the management company is of greater significance when consideration is given to the number of properties overseen.In the following simplified illustrations I break revenues into four revenue components; (1) Non-commission direct pay guests, (2) commission direct pay guests, merchant model indirect pay guests (vendors) and other hotel revenue outlet revenues. Please see the illustration below entitled, page 1 of 8.I elude to the channel mix on page 1 of 8 as "typical" for an oceanfront full service weekend resort. Needless to say yours can be different. Hence, the following 4 differing scenarios.As a source of reference for "factors" used in this and the next article, please see the illustration entitled page 2 of 8.I will be using a 3.0% base fee (and in the next piece 9% for incentive fees). The GOP I use is 30.4%.Page 3 of 8 highlights the aforementioned merchant model effect discussed above. In this case we observe a $62 per room night on what the management company "should be entitled to". That would be $2 per reservation. Multiply that by the number of merchant model room nights in a hotel annually.The channel mix in scenario 1 was discussed earlier.Kindly note that without taking the merchant model effect into consideration, the management company today and for any and all channel mixes here, will receive $476,190.A merchant model ADJUSTMENT would create an entitlement, however, of $490,981 on this particular mix. See the illustration entitled page 4 of 8 below.Channel mix - scenario 2, illustrated below, shows higher non-commissioned direct pay guests, less commissioned direct pay guests and higher merchant model indirect paying guests. The results and differential are below on the illustration entitled page 5 of 8.Page 5 of 8 shows the commission differential of what is paid and what, should be paid, to be $29,400.Channel mix - scenario 3, illustrated below on page 6 of 8, shows a "typical" non-commission direct pay contribution of 22.0%, a slightly lower (53% compared to 61%) contribution of "commission - direct pay guests" to "typical" and a slightly higher contribution from the "merchant model indirect paying guest" (from 17.0% to 25.0%). The results are below on the illustration entitled page 6 of 8.Finally, the channel mix in scenario 4, illustrated below, shows a "typical" "non-commission direct pay contribution" of 22.0%. The "commission direct pay guests" contribute 33.0% compared to 61.0% that is considered "typical" (a significant difference). Also, the contribution from the "merchant model indirectly paying guests" also shows a significant difference (45.0% compared to "typical" 17.0 %.) Results below, on the illustration entitled page 7 of 8, show a $38,475 fee differential on what is collected compared to what is entitled.A summary of all pages presented can be viewed below in the illustration entitled page 8 of 8.Channel mix, as it relates to management incentive fees, are equally as interesting and the implications also a good consideration. Here too, the management company is not recognized rewarded on channel optimization.I'm not sure if the industry is ready to change toward channel mix changes. Still, as revenue management continues to offer significant advances and produce significantly higher profitability, perhaps this may one day be a contractual consideration! The investment that each management company make toward perfecting channel mix and, in turn, the revenue management discipline, would seem to indicate that reward should reflect success in optimization; in turn, it should be recognized in duly earned management base fees (and incentive fees).
The Revenue Report Card - 2 March 2016
The ability to find measurable hidden value in a hotel, before acquisition, provides hotel buyers with foresight to confidently negotiate and recognize undetected long term benefits. The Optimization Scoring Metric, calculated in the due diligence phase of acquisition, uncovers treasures that could never be seen before.The missing metric, in hotel industry analytics, is the Revenue Optimization Metric. "The Metric" allows prospective hotel buyers to identify unremarkable performance in revenue generation. The substitution of unremarkable with remarkable is the space in which value is created. The metric/score quantifies the shortfall and then projects potential profitability based on a typical scoring range (see Exhibit "C", below).What is the Optimization Metric?The Optimization Metric provides hotels with an evaluation of the effects that (1) complete channel cost, (2) channel mix and (3) the merchant model, have on profit and cash deposits (I refer to these as the "critical factors").The calculations involved in determining the Optimization Score place all reservation-vendors on an equal platform in measuring production and removes the flawed inaccuracies created by the Merchant Model. Needless to say, in a data driven society flawed metrics present big problems. These flaws, are present in the traditional calculation of hotel metrics. Follow the link, in the paragraph below, for more on "the optimization metric and flawed industry metrics".The "Optimization Metric" was the highlight of an article recently published in HospitalityNet.org that, showed two hotels sitting side by side, both with $10 million dollars of gross reservation revenues and both with exactly the same industry metrics. Despite this, your neighbors' property deposited and reported $700,000 (7%) more to the bank and on their financial statement then you did. Only the Optimization Score metric is able to identify and quantify this material variance and the road to take to overcome it.I described the Optimization Metric/Score as a "game changer" in industry analytics and it truly is. To reiterate, unless the "critical factors" mentioned above are taken into consideration, industry analytics are scientifically flawed and inaccurate.At the core of the optimization metric, is reservation related cost (actual sales & marketing labor and promotional costs). These costs are allocated into revenue channels. Each revenue manager selects a channel mix. We then address the effects created by the channel mix, place the merchant model vendors on a level playing field with "direct-pay" guests, and allocate all promotional costs. The aggregate total is then applied to an adjustment factor (algorithm) we use to recognize "annual hotel benefit". On the whole, the Optimization Metric/Score provides us with a new and accurate reality of hotel performance.The Optimization Metric Formula is as follows:Exhibit "A", aboveThe inclusion of the aforementioned "critical factors" also means that for the first time, true revenue optimization can be achieved. I do not say this with any disrespect intended to revenue tacticians. Revenue tacticians are limited when considering revenue strategies, to making decisions that are based on the relevant data they have on hand. Accurate, complete and real-time channel cost has been hard to come by (and is an accounting task). The Revenue Report Card System provides fully-diluted reservation related labor, benefit & promotional channel cost at the touch of a button. Our algorithm (or accountant provided data) applies the aforementioned "critical factors", by selecting specific items from the hotel financial statement and the same from the property management system. The result is that the revenue tactician now has complete and accurate channel-by-channel cost / profitability information that is at his/her fingertips in real time. The road map to flawless strategies begins here.It is imperative to understand, at this stage of the discussion that ESTIMATES OF ANY OF THE COSTS WILL NOT ENABLE HOTELS TO ARRIVE AT TRUE OPTIMIZATION. Exact fully-diluted, Sales, Marketing, Front Desk and Sales Assistant wages are a must! The allocation of actual promotional costs are also imperative.The Use of the Optimization Metric to Influence your Property Acquisition DecisionOptimization Scoring is a versatile metric that has far reaching applications. Today I'd like to discuss how this metric, calculated during the due diligence period, can disclose hidden value in properties.For many years the "times earnings" equation has been used as a "loose barometer" in arriving at the sales value of a hotel. Needless to say, there are times when the value of land, a busy location or some other attribute might supersede a "times earnings" calculation, however, even in those circumstance the method is still used as a determining factor of selling value.The "times earning" multiplier is created based on (1) the current state of the economy, (2) the geographic area and/or (3) how hotels are generally performing in an area. At any given point in time the multiplier can change.Where 7 times earnings may once have been the factor used, 9 times earnings may be appropriate at another time. In every sense of the phrase, it depends on "what the market will bear" and the expected return on property investment at a given time.Exhibit "B.1" below shows a diagram in which a hotel with Gross Reservation Revenues of $10 million dollars and a Net Income of $1,920,000 is applied to 3 different "times earnings" factors; Scenario 1 -7x earnings, Scenario 2 - 8x earnings, and Scenario 3 -9x time's earnings.Exhibit "B.1" - using "Times Earnings" as a barometer in determining the selling price of your hotel. For simplicities sake, I have limited the complexity in the calculation presented.Exhibit "B.2" below provides supporting narratives to the 3 scenarios presented above (in Exhibit "B.1)...Exhibit "B.2", aboveIn Scenario 1 above, the hotels Gross Reservation Revenues are $10 million dollars and shows a bottom line on their financial statement of $1,920,000 of net income. Using a 7x time's earnings factor, the value of that hotel is considered to be $13,440.000. This would be the asking (or selling price).As a side note: Hotel revenues overseen by a professional revenue manger will typically produce an optimization score range of 75.0 to 83.0; the higher the score the more efficiently (profitably) the hotel is performing.The hotel achieved an optimization score of 69.0; this would be considered to be an unremarkable optimization result. In essence, it means the hotel is using too many expensive channels to bring in business. It also would be indicative of a hotel management team that perhaps has NOT taken "the long view" that would provide for sustaining long term growth.The good news here is that an optimization score of 69.0, indicates that there is great potential and hidden value in this offering. By employing a qualified revenue manager after acquisition, the hotel should, for all intents and purposes, be able to raise that 69.0 to a 75.0 to 83.0 optimization range. See Exhibit "C" below for general optimization scoring ranges. As you can see above (Exhibit "B.1"), the optimization rating can be used in calculating actual dollars.Exhibit "C" below, provides a good guideline on typical hotel optimization performance.Exhibit "C" - aboveThe Result - (Exhibit "B.1" & "B.2", above)In Scenario #1, Gross Reservation Revenues are increased (using a typical Optimization Score level as the guideline) to $11,600,000. We than use the same 19.2% profit factor, which increases "new earnings" to $2,300,000. This is the hidden value the Optimization Score uncovers.The new-earnings are then applied to the 7 times earnings factor that brings the sales price of the hotel to $16,100,000. This increase in potential value, of the hotel of $2,660,000, is not nor ever need to be known by the seller. It provides the buyer, however, with piece of mind and confidence in the purchase price and the potential this acquired asset could bring.The bottom line: The above referenced buyer can now purchase the hotel at, or close to, the $13,440,000 asking price, with the knowledge that the ultimate Return on Investment would exceed desired expectations.My next article will discuss the impact of using true and complete costs in performing displacement analysis. Hoteliers can now compare bottom line impact in comparing two pieces of business; an exact science!
The Revenue Report Card - 23 February 2016
Advances in computer capability allow hotels to see things in reservation-vendors, that could never be seen before. This new capability allows us to search vast amounts of data for defined parameters sought to fill need periods!Your property management system contains valuable insights held within your historic reservation data. The key that unlocks the door to high level revenue optimization comes through the recognition of relevant Key Performance Indicators. They can be common or cater to specific hotel needs.What are Key Performance Indicators (hereafter "KPI's")?"KPI's" are the DNA of each "reservation-vendor".Drill down and you will find a unique mix of attributes that define each reservation-vendor (hereafter "vendors"). The key, however, is to find common ground with other "vendors" in creating meaningful "KPI'" groups (also called CHANNELS). "KPI's" can be as common as commissions charged or as obscure as using currency exchange advantage as a booking driver.It's important to keep in mind that "vendors" can have more than one "KPI" and that means that they can be listed in multiple revenue channels. Unlike the strict parameters of hotel accounting (where vendors are typically grouped through rules set by sales segmentation standards) revenue analysis must be a petri-dish of alternative "KPI's" that explore many attributes. This allows hotels to consider multiple "reservation-drivers"; booking advantage can come in many forms. See a few possible variations on the On-line Travel Agent channel, below in Exhibit "A". Hoteliers are only limited by their intellectual imaginations in creating new channels driven by "KPI's"!By correctly defining your Property Management System SEARCH CRITERIA, with the goal of filling "pieces of the puzzle" that require attention, "KPI's are the answer.The following, is a list of common Key Performance Indicators. Revenue Report Card TM has created over 100 variations!Historic Fill PatternsBased on the "fill periods" shown above, which Key Performance Indicators might you consider to bring more parity over the week in filling need days of each type of hotel?
The Revenue Report Card - 17 February 2016
Since publishing the article "the Merchant Model Effect on ADR, RevPAR & Profitability" on HospitalityNet.org several months ago I've received quite a few inquiries requesting the details behind the calculation.There were so many variations on the "theme", that I thought the info graphs below would sufficiently answer most.We adjust industry analytics and place all reservation-vendors on the same playing field by I grossing-up the Gross Reservation Revenues (for merchant model vendors) and then use that margin as a commission expense. The formula can be used in the hotel, airline or cruise ship industries. All engage Wholesaler / Receptive Operators and On-line Travel Agents (that use the Merchant Model).Those whose total contribution to Gross Reservations Revenues, from mentioned sources, exceeding 5% would be interested in this adjustment analysis. As you can see, the deviation over your industry metrics in Average Daily Rate, RevPAR and profitability can be quite large. Based on the hotels channel mix, above this small hotel, of 118 units, shows a differential of 7% of Gross Reservation Revenues.Channel mixes with a lower number of merchant model providers would create a smaller optimization score and, in turn, a less significant difference in ADR, RevPAR and profitability. I believe however that most in all industries contribute more than 5% in merchant model business.Thank you all for the many nice notes and the high interest in the original article. The original article on HospitalityNet.Org can be found at http://bit.ly/1LrP8jZ
The Revenue Report Card - 11 February 2016
What do we want in hotel analytics and financial reporting?Can we live with the standard metrics of yesteryear when so much has lost its veracity due to advances in computer capability & indirectly, internet technology?Or should we embrace intuitive metrics that take things like channel mix, the merchant model effect, potential revenues, and/or Key Performance Indicator driven channels into consideration?Is the status quo in metrics and financial reporting fulfilling the needs of today's hotelier? Or should new insights that previously went undetected be used to better address our revenue undertakings?The age old questions relating to analytics and financial reporting have and always will be the same:"Why do we use metrics / ratios?""Why do we use financial statements?"The answers to these questions also will always be the same.We use metrics to take a photo in time of how well we've performed. We compare ourselves to historic and competitive set results to track advances and /or declines in our revenues and operations.We use financials to take a photo in time of our financial position & performance. Through metric study of the financials we can assess the health of our "hotels" and the "hotel function".Through each, we determine whether we are a going concern or a faltering one.What can change, however, is the methodology and reporting by which we reach conclusions. They must evolve along with advances mentioned above.With the new capabilities of this current "big data era" we can collect vast amounts of information and see things we could never see before in our reservation-vendor relationships as well as the booking patterns and attributes (KPI's) that define them. In turn, we can use our metrics and reporting to create actionable strategies that take advantage of what this data uncovers.With major advances in the internet coupled with a society that has become more and more comfortable in its use, we now have countless new B2B and B2C reservation-vendor entrants to the marketplace that can communicate and transmit to us at lightening speeds. We also have a society that has become comfortable in booking reservations confidently through the internet; through "vendors" or with us directly; unlike ever before!We can look at reservation revenues in a whole new way and with new purpose. Unlike at any time in the past, we can now view the contributing factors (triggers) that occur and that bring business to our hotels and, in turn, see how these factors themselves interact with one another. How will a high performance channel react if we place more emphasis on it by devoting more marketing staff "time"? Will the channel become more profitable with higher volume? Or, how will that same channel react to added promotional investment? Needless to say, added cost in either case requires more volume.Revenue Managers become equation solvers or "analysts" in every sense of the word and a "new mix" is born (a mix within a mix; so to speak!)!The optimal mix of promotional cost (what we spend in each channel to enhance revenues) and the internal labor cost (executive sales and marketing time devoted to channels to enhance revenues) needs to realize optimal channel-by-channel profitability. Simply stated, how much of each can or should we devote before benefit begins to decline? On the whole, we can now scientifically project the "investment" needed in each factor, within each channel, in order to produce optimal projected results. Of course, we have to be able to measure and apply actual time devoted to each channel by or Sales and Marketing force. Our algorithm does this (sorry for the cheap plug!).The reality check is shown through immediate increased profitability (week over week, month over month and year over year). Nothing else tells the tale as to optimized revenue channels better than higher bank deposits and bottom line results.Finally, once actual complete channel-by-channel profitability is attained, performance can be measured with new ratios and standards. These can measure relationships to gross reservation revenues compared to (1) labor, (2) promotional investment, (3) labor & promotional investment and the return each "investment" brings itself to the revenue puzzle. They also can be compared to a competitive set.The revenue section of our hotel financial statement also requires consideration and can also adapt to this "new era"; eventually perhaps by adding a new "Revenue Division" to the financial statement, or in the interim add a supporting schedule that highlights "Revenue" as a stand-alone, self-contained measure onto itself. This would create a statement in which all revenue and reservation related costs would be collected and, once again, provide new metric relationships that can be measures used to evaluate production. The emphasis and sophistication brought to reservation revenues these days means that this analysis should be a future consideration.With so many advances and different ways in which we are now able to look at and assess revenues and related costs, is new reporting warranted? Does separating (a) revenues and related wages & costs from the "Rooms Division" and (b) reservation wages & costs from the "Sales & Marketing Division" make sense in bringing them all together in a "Revenue Division"? Or is it sufficient to accomplish this simply in the form of adding a supporting statement to the financial statement?Exhibit "A" below, presents a collective statement that could lend itself to either (a) the formation of a new "Revenue Division" or (b) a "Supporting Statement to Revenue".Exhibit "A"Newton's first law of motion draws an interesting parallel here: "What's in motion stays in motion, unless acted upon by an unbalanced force." The "unbalanced force" would be the "new era" of computing and internet advances. Change is inevitable; it's constant and that... will never change (excuse the cheap play on words!)!!
The Revenue Report Card - 1 February 2016
Large industries, such as the hotel & resort industry, are naturally slow to change standards that at times have been carefully developed over many decades.Large industry leaders, who carry the responsibility of overseeing and from time to time guiding such changes, must act cautiously, prudently, and with great pause.With many lifetimes of experience, the finest minds, have created meaningful hotel reporting to track sales and accounting through sales-segmentation and financial-reporting (the latter through the creation of the Uniform System of Accounts), respectively. Each is overseen by a separate body of experts and each complements the other; as it must.All was well, until "big data" capability and the quantum leap in reservation-vendors came along (mostly through expansion of the internet). Until that time, the aforementioned reporting and tracking systems worked perfectly and served the industry well. What's more, those in the industry for many years became well versed and comforted in the use and application of these formats in different scenarios that arise.The advent of Big Data and addition of multiple reservation-vendors, however, became a game changer in reporting and compiling data.With the newly realized ability to look beyond face value at reservation-vendors, (i.e. as "wholesalers" or "On-line Travel Agents", etc.) hotels could identify, sort and separate vendors based on the Key Performance Indicators (hereafter "KPI's") they possess and that, in turn, benefit the hotel in filling need periods.This has been as big a step in the industry as the introduction of the electronic Property Management System! It also meant that the hotel suddenly had two far different perspectives and objectives in analyzing potential and recurring guests.The first objective fell in line with sales-segmentation, and that meant understanding the reasons and motivating factors that brought the guest to the hotel. The second objective, falls in line with channel management and that means to understand the intricacies of pricing, booking patterns, booking window, length of stay, channel cost and demand factors that are needed in order to fill the hotel optimally.The industry, during this current "big data" period, began to analyze and embrace these changes and accordingly attempted to modify sales-segmentation in order to create a "one size fits all" approach. The problem has become that when objectives are so diverse, the industry may be better served by an altogether different approach. This being having 2 separate but interactive systems that run side by side.Meanwhile, the industry continues to "self-adapt" but standards have yet to come down the pike. And so, the leading flags and revenue experts experiment in attempting to adapt sales-segmentation to revenue segmentation through the old format. I dare say, there may never be a mutual fit."KPI's" identifying various customers are being used in other industries as a matter of course today. Each vendor/customer possesses one or more "KPI's" and "big data" brings these patterns to the surface. With such a high multitude of reservation-vendors now upon us, we can take vendors that possess similar "KPI's" and group them together into revenue-channels.The system I present today runs side-by-side to sales segmentation reporting. Its foundation is a Revenue Chart of Channels that collects and groups vendors driven by the "KPI's" they possess. The revenue chart of channel format provides an easy reference to sales segmentation reporting (and to reservation-vendors) that the sales and revenue executives can digest simultaneously; this is a must. Sales Segmentation will still track "customer need", while a Revenue Chart of Channels would track "hotel need" in filling hotels to optimal capacity. This satisfies both the senior and non-senior hotelier.Below please see Exhibit "A" in which a vendor-dictionary provides the affiliation between the two stand-alone systems. The vendor-dictionary is a granular report that shows both the related "KPI" used in grouping and the Sales Segmentation affiliation in the Property Management System and Accounting Systems.Exhibit "A"From the revenue channel dictionary (Exhibit "A"), a less granular format is built showing the revenue channels that house reservation-vendors in revenue channels. You can have any number of venders housed within a channel, each identified by a different "KPI". This can be seen below in Exhibit "B", the Revenue Chart of Channels. It can be expanded or reduced depending on a hotels need periods. Exhibit "B"Next, the channels above are grouped into CATEGORIES, shown below in Exhibit "C". To reiterate, each category includes the channels the hotel chooses to use in that category.Keep in mind that reservation-vendors can be included in more than one channel. If they possess multiple "KPI's" they would be included in multiple channels. A good example of this might be a Receptive Operator that sells both B2B and B2C. For B2C sales the hotel may wish to show these grouped with the OTA reservation-vendors, in Category 5 and placed in its own channel therein (see Exhibit "B"; Channel 5e - OTA - Receptive Operator B2C).Exhibit "C"If and when a hotel executive wishes an explanation about the performance of a category he/she would simply "drill down" to investigate which specific channels and/or specific vendors were causing the result to be explored.The drill-down sequence would be as follows: Channel Category > Specific Channel > Channel Ledger (below; Exhibit "D") > Vendor Dictionary. In each case the affiliation with Sales Segmentation would be shown. At each level, more detail is shown.A detailed view of all components within a channel (revenue, labor, promotional cost) can be seen in Channel Ledgers. A separate Channel Ledger is created for each Channel on the Revenue Chart of Channels (see Exhibit "D", below). The executive can investigate the variable relationships of costs and associated revenues as well as other specifics that define that channel. Exhibit "D"Big Industry change requires study, opinion and careful compromise. In the interim, significant benefits can be derived in using the system discussed above and presented for industry consideration. We have used it for almost a decade and these new formats are worth their weight in GOLD or HOTEL PROFITABILITY!
The Revenue Report Card - 11 January 2016
In my previously authored article, entitled "Hotel: Revenue versus Sales", I explored the benefits of using two separate but exclusive interconnected reporting platforms to analyze Gross Reservation Revenues; (1) Market Segmentation and (2) a Key Performance Indicator driven Revenue Chart of Channels. As I pointed out in that article; "A "one brand fits all" philosophy (attempting to adapt the traditional Marketing Segmentation format) may not be achievable when such varied and distinct goals regarding "EXECUTIVE NEED" are sought by each different department.These interlinked side-by-side reporting systems, could be used to align all hotel executive needs in (1) interpreting guest need, purpose and/or the characteristics that drive their purchase decisions and (2) interpreting hotel needs in reaching revenue optimization (using demand drivers aka Key Performance Indicators).Each Channel Ledger in the Revenue Chart of Channels, aside from being Key Performance Indicator (hereafter "KPI") driven, would show revenue and related sales executive and front desk labor costs (hereafter described as "Reservation Related Labor") and promotion costs.Today I would like to discuss the "Reservation Related Labor" allocation.The calculation of channel-by-channel labor is time consuming and usually performed in Accounting DepartmentsFirst allow me to point out why it is so difficult to come by complete channel-by-channel cost.Standard hotel financial statement, using the Uniform System of Accounts as a guide, while formidable in their own right, are not conducive to the reservation analysis process in bringing all "Reservation Related Labor, benefits and promotional costs together.Each hotel division, and related financial statement, has a labor and benefit section. For our purposes, there are two primary divisions from which "Reservation Related Labor" is extracted and they are (1) the Rooms Division and (2) the Sales & Marketing Division. The Rooms Division combines "Reservation Related Labor" and "Operational Labor" in the same statement (See Exhibit "A" & "C" below).Exhibit "A"The red arrow indicator above, highlights "Reservation Related Staff" that are contained in the captioned "PAYROLL & RELATED EXPENSES" portion of the Rooms Division. These include the front desk director, managers, supervisors, agents, PBX operators and Reservationists. Other positions that could also be included are the social media manager and the agent responsible for checking and/or blocking incoming reservation room nights.The sales and marketing related positions included in "Reservation Related Labor" are shown in the Sales & Marketing Division statement (see Exhibit "C", below).The first question that may be asked is why include front desk wages and benefits in channel-by-channel reservation cost?We believe that each and every expenditure incurred by the hotel toward sales, marketing, revenue management, internet, advertising and/or promotion, up until and including a portion of check-in labor should be part of the cost equation."Front desk agent check-in time/labor" is recognized as a variable cost that fluctuates. It's dictated by the reservation-providers paperwork and credential requirements. Once the reservation request is received, it of course then needs to be booked into the Property Management System and in each case dictates a different time interval required to accomplish. The correct result as we see it should be that only the portion of "front desk" time/labor, directly related to "the check in process", would be included and allocated as "Reservation Related Labor". In turn, time at the desk devoted to check out, guest service, area recommendations, and/or assistance would be recognized as an "Operational Expense" and NOT "Reservation Related Labor". (See the Info-graphic in Exhibit "B" below).Exhibit "B"In an in-depth survey of front desk managers and reservationists we have been able to determine "typical time periods" on (a) each process undertaken by (b) each position engaged for (c) each different channel from whom a reservation is received. To reiterate, each channel has a unique set of booking factors based on the different challenges presented in the booking and check-in process.Reservation-providers Certain reservation-providers have direct access to unsold inventories in the Property Management System, while others email or fax reservations to the hotel, and still others will call-in to make reservations by telephone. We've even recently seen on-line exclusive chat lines from which reservations can be made and confirmed. The result is that reservations continue to be both manually and directly booked into the property management system.Blocking Incoming ReservationsWe still find the majority of hotels blocking their arrivals manually, although quite a few have acquired an automated blocking module. Despite this, arrivals automatically blocked still need to be checked and depending on which method the hotel uses, will determine the time interval and labor cost that needs to be made.Social Media, PBX Operators, Concierges and Sales Assistant InvolvementSome channels typically have guests that will engage the hotels social media, while others will call the PBX operator, concierge or email the hotel with (pre-booking) questions.For a complete and accurate evaluation of channel-by-channel cost, this labor should be factored into appropriate channels.It is imperative to remember that channel-by-channel costs are collected and compiled in order to determine which channels are the most lucrative to use at any given point in time. Because front desk time intervals are directly determined by each reservation-sources reservation process, different labor costs will be associated to different channels (guests).A good example of this might be seen in analyzing reservations for Airline Crew. They can take, in some instances, three times as long as an average reservation would take to check-in because of per diems that the hotel agrees to pay to pilots and stewardesses. This is a substantial deviation from ordinary time intervals devoted to the check-in process and needs to be factored into channel cost. Upon the annual review of an airline contract and consideration of perhaps displacing all or a portion of this business, the complete channel cost must include this deviation in order to fully evaluate and compare airline business to the alternative being considered.Displacement AnalysisWith complete and actual channel-by-channel cost now calculated, a hotel has a new powerful tool in preparing displacement analysis studies by using "reservation-source profitability" instead of the traditional method of comparing Gross Reservation Revenue to Gross Reservation Revenue! This is a decisive change in the decision making process; comparing profitability to profitability in choosing one source over the other provides a precise means in the decision making process.How do hotels accomplish these studies?In order to obtain precise labor and cost information, hotels need to engage there accounting departments. The allocations, are typically determined on an excel worksheet and the Controller goes through a complex series of recognizing "Reservation Related Labor" from the statements discussed and then allocating specific positions, using determined time intervals to channels . Results are an arduous and time consuming affair (the previous title located on the first page of this article entitled; "Channel-by-Channel Labor Allocation is a time consuming calculation usually performed by the Accounting Department) had started the discussion.Currently no written standard or opinionBesides the time intervals involved, a second impediment in calculating complete channel "Reservation Related Labor" cost is that, there is no written standard or opinion published in the industry. One of my objectives in publishing this article is to begin a conversation in establishing such guidelines. I have presented the Revenue Report Card TM theory here today, and what we use in our program to determine channel-by-channel labor cost allocation. The program takes seconds to provide the full analysis described, but calculation can be performed in house by the accounting department as has been noted. Needless to say our conclusions are opened to interpretation and discussion. Our home page provides an expanded discussion of labor and expenditure cost and you are welcome to view it under the "Pillars of Revenue Report Card TM" section of that page at http://bit.ly/1SHKRiR ).Hotel Financial StatementsHotel financial statements allocate wages to many different divisions in the hotel; depending on the size of your property, there can be few or many divisions. Likewise, benefits to employees are typically compiled on a separate statement and allocated to each department according to the volume of wages in each. For simplicities sake today, I will not include the benefits statement in this discussion; nevertheless results are shown on each statement for each division.Executives and staff that Contribute to the "Reservations Related Labor" include...In the "Rooms Division" -Front Desk Director, Front Desk Manager(s), Front Desk Supervisor(s), Front Desk Agents, PBX Operators, Reservationists, Staff responsible to Block Rooms, Revenue Director, Revenue Manager, Support to Revenue Manager (See Exhibit "A", above).In the "Sales & Marketing Division" - Director of Sales, Sales Managers, Marketing Director, Marketing Manager, Public Relations Manager, Support Staff, Social Media Director, Outsourced Sales and Marketing, Outsourced Public Relations. (See Exhibit "C", below).Exhibit "C"Labor incurred DURING and AFTER check-in are Operational in nature. As previously indicated, any front desk referrals, recommendations, assistance and/or time devoted to the check-out process should not be included in the 'Reservation Related Labor" allocation. Valet, bellman and concierge service as well as room service, housekeeping and pool, beach or food & beverage services are "Operational".Operational Services are overseen by a different "Master"The key here is that "Operations" are administered by a different "master" and therefore we believe, need to be measured separately. This is one of the draw backs of using the well-known analytical ratio called GOPPAR. GOPPAR combines "Reservations" and "Operations" processes in analysis. While it is a good overall barometer, as mentioned it combines the work of two or more "masters". The revenue channel profitability calculation provides the hotel with the measurement of bringing business to the hotel separately.The following graphic illustrates the positions that typically serve the guest in an "Operational" capacity and are NOT included in the "Reservation Related Labor" calculation.Exhibit "D"Finally, when fully-diluted labor is distributed to channels it is then associated to specific revenue streams, for which efforts have been undertaken. Simply stated, it allows the hotel executive to look at "Reservation Related Labor" as in investment, just as in any investment. An example would be amounts committed to the Automobile Association of Americas travel book. A Return on that "investment" should also be viewed. Expenditure "investments will be the subject of my next article. You can calculate a Return on Effort (Labor) in each channel. The strength of this calculation comes in several areas. First, it shows the sales teams' current productivity in all areas and those can be compared to the same periods historically. Second it can be compared to a hotels competitive set production. Below, please view Exhibit "E".Exhibit "E"In closing, complete "Reservation Related Labor" is a critical component included in channel-by-channel cost. In some channels, such as internally generated Group and Corporate business, labor is the primary cost component of the channel. Below in Exhibit "F", sales managers, marketing managers and their support staff, along with printed collateral and internet promotion compose all costs incurred in order to bring business to the hotel in this period. You can see the difference in the Sales & Marketing Effort (labor) in these two statements. The difference in results can that (1) the hotel is carrying excessive staff, (2) the hotel is training new staff or (3) that perhaps a sales manager(s) are not performing efficiently and/or effectively. Once results are received, the Director of Sales will be alerted and a determination made on whether further exploration is necessary.Exhibit "F"As hotels continue to make huge strides in increasing Gross Reservations Revenue by taking advantage of critical "big data" output, it enables revenue managers to make earlier decisions in confidently determining future sellout dates. Using the time before projected sellouts to their advantage, strategies can determine when high cost channels can be restricted or closed out and, in turn, fill the hotel with the most lucrative channel mix available. "Reservation Related Labor" is a key component in the study of channel-by-channel profitability.Establishing industry standards for realizing labor allocation puts everyone on the same playing field and allows area or competitive comparisons. By evaluating performance on a weekly basis any "fall off" in productivity can be quickly recognized and addressed. It is my hope that this narrative creates a basis for good intellectual discussion. Thank you for all the comments and "thumbs up" received in my related articles previously written. They make these narratives worthwhile. Richard
The Revenue Report Card - 5 January 2016
Revenue Segmentation divides reservation-sources into groups based on underlying actionable Key Performance Indicators (demand drivers)Marketing Segmentation divides customers into groups based on the underlying needs, purpose or characteristics driving their purchase decisions.A parting of the ways: Hotel Need vs. Customer NeedMarketing Segmentation has been the standard through which hotels have reported revenues for many decades. The result is that many executives feel comforted by this format and are reluctant to change. Add that to the fact that our hotel accounting formats, dictated in the Uniform System of Accounts, follows marketing segmentation and you can see why change is a large undertaking. The two simply must match because budgets and forecasts always need to address sales and marketing initiatives.The lines of segmentation, however, have become blurred in the past 5+ years and the result is that this format is no longer effective because of the way guests are now booking reservations. The result is that "varying degrees of traditional segmentation" have been converted, by brands and independents, in order to try to adjust to this ever changing landscape. Unfortunately, no real industry standard has been achieved.Questions proposed today;[?] Does segmentation adequately fulfill the needs of all hotel executives? [?] Is a more effective 'pooling of resources' achievable in a different reporting format? [?] Has industry reporting kept up with the "granular offerings" provided by the technological advancements in this "Big Data" age of computing? [?] Does it make sense to separately track sales and revenues based on (a) "Customer need" and (b) "Hotel need", in a side by side analysis?The goal would be to enable the Director of Sales and Revenue Manager to reach consensus with the CFO and General Manager in best understanding the "booking habits" of targeted customer groups in both a "need" and hotel fulfillment capacity. Further, to not disturb reporting in place that provides executive comfort and allows the hotel to track guests based on guest need (through a segmentation format).Hence, this narrative examines segmentation versus and key performance indicator reporting.Hotel life in 2016 and forwardAs time marches on, the hotel industry has benefited from vast advances in technology that provides the ability to look at large quantities of data in so many new and unique ways. The primarily benefit, of course, is the insight toward arithmetic advantage that could never be seen before. We can now extract information based on booking window, average rate, arrival, weather, average length of stay, specific stay periods, geography, currency exchange and the list of Key Performance Indicators (hereafter "KPI's) goes on and on.In due course, the intellectual discussion perhaps should not be on how our current reporting mechanisms can adapt but rather on whether to accept that distinct differences exist between the two aforementioned "NEEDS" and how to adapt a side-by-side reporting system that easily interacts or integrates with each another. A "one brand fits all" philosophy, may not be achievable when such varied and distinct goals regarding "NEED" are sought by each different department.A separate Revenue Chart of Channels (Exhibit "A) based on "KPI'S", might be the answer and should be explored and considered.Here, certain similarities exist through "centralized aspects and terminology", and they make the Revenue Chart of Channels analogous to marketing segmentation. The key being that the Director of Sales and Revenue Manager could easily associate vendors in either of the two systems. An advantage of a "KPI" driven Revenue Chart of Channels is that a "vendor" could be included in multiple channels if and when they possess multiple attributes that are similar to other "vendors" and are beneficial to the hotel.I refer to the following (Exhibit "B") as a standard Revenue Chart of Channels that most hotels would find advantageous to use. They are based on the revenue categories shown above.100+ "KPI" variationsWe've come to generate a list of 100+ "KPI" variations to date, and I'm sure more can be added to this list. Each hotel would use ONLY those channels ("KPI's") that pertain to their own selective needs. Others would simply be interesting observations but remain dormant; until perhaps a time in which they become advantageous to implement and use.Obvious "KPI's" include Average Daily Rate, commissions charged, channel profitability, booking windows and/or Average Length of Stay.More ambiguous "KPI's" include, typical days of the week a "Vendor(s)" will fill your hotel, currency exchange advantages, airline schedules, channel-by-channel productivity, potential profit, geographic sources and the merchant model effect on certain reservation-sources. This list is far more expansive.A hotel can declare each of these 100+ "KPI's" as SEARCH CRITERIA and poll historic reservation data to recognize "KPI's" hidden from clear view. Many of these hold "gold mines" of potential revenue at various times of the year. To reiterate, hotels would simply pick and choose which channels to track and use and at what time of the year. Only those that are relevant to hotel needs would be utilized.Relevant channel choices contain "vendors" that possess those characteristics ("KPI's") identified in each of the channels descriptions (see the "vendor" dictionary below Exhibit "C"). You will be surprised when previously unidentified "KPI's" dictate that certain "vendors" should be separated from previous groupings. Before "big data" capability, we would create groups in our Channel Management Systems based on what they represented at face values. Now those characteristics can be better defined through more granular analysis. Please note the last column in which traditional segmentation is noted and associated.As a side note, vendors assigned to channels based on "KPI's" should be adopted in your revenue channel manager program.A discerning look at Wholesaler / Receptive Operators .In using traditional marketing segmentation, all Wholesaler / Receptives might be grouped together in reporting. Yet a study of data could uncover that a number of these "vendors" have a history of arithmetically filling your hotel in higher quantities from Sunday to Wednesday (geography, flights, etc.). Separating these vendors makes sense if you are, let's say, a weekend resort. Based on performance, this separation can be for part of the year or annually.In Exhibit "D" the hotel separates vendors based on the days of the week typically filled. When future weekends at a beach resort are assured to fill, consideration would be to close or create higher minimum length of stay restrictions in Channel 14 f. Channel 14 b on the other hand (when separated) arithmetically has a good chance of filling room nights, in this weekend resort, during periods (Sunday through Wednesday) in which the hotel always has unsold inventory. It would be a good consideration NOT to close or restrict Channel 14b based on "KPI's" possessed. Please note the "Distribution of Room Nights" shown on each Channel Ledger and encapsulated in each red box below.Other Wholesaler / Receptive considerations might be (1) separating guaranteed from non-guaranteed business, (2) separating allotments from free sell agreements, (3) separating dynamic rates from static rates and (4) separating B2B from B2C agreements. Consideration can be given in the future on whether B2C through wholesaler/Receptive may be more appropriately grouped with certain of your OTA vendors.The Revenue Chart of Channels can be used to create a Channel-by-Channel Cost Report (see Exhibit "E"), that would provide the Revenue Manager with distinct advantages in being able to quickly recognize the priority of channels to be manipulated. Here, either the highest or the lowest cost channels would be the first to be opened, closed or restricted based on circumstances. The standardization of a Revenue Chart of Channels also provides the hotel with an ability to compare their results to a competitive set. Comparisons to channels allow the hotel to compare itself to each revenue channel in regards to COST, and, in turn, Profitability. Are your costs on target with the averages of your Comp Set?Channel COSTS contain a combination of (1) labor costs, (2) expenditures related to sales, marketing or the internet or (3) Merchant Model costs. As a result, each channel contains different margins of profitability that can be compared to average area competitive set results. Seasons bring changes to channel costs as do events and circumstances. Some can be anomalies while others the result of seizing a moment of opportunity. The Revenue Chart of Channels is an evolving, never ending, science of dividing and separating based on real time events.Comparative barometers discussed with regard to average competitive set data, creates good incentives toward achievement and also a good alert system when things sometimes go awry.Finally, the new "KPI" groupings provided in the Revenue Chart of Channels allow the hotel to track channels PACE and Weekly Results. See Weekly Results below (see Exhibit "F").In Conclusion Many industries have adapted their business models and, in many cases, reporting mechanisms to reflect Key Performance Indicators that allow them to view consumers based on acquisition drivers. That which I have proposed above leaves entrusted mechanisms in place and provides "KPI" generated groupings that can be used in managing revenue optimization. Although this narrative differs in several aspects from the piece written in "The Evolving Dynamics of Revenue Management" by Kathleen Cullen & Caryl Helsel, that chapter (chapter 5; page 49) entitled "Marketing Segmentation: Is it time to re-define segmentation?" provides a great history of segmentation and a look into "Behavioral Segmentation". Here, of course I have proposed separating segmentation and "KPI" generated channels and at the same time integrating the two to accomplish two distinctly different goals. Hotel Revenues and Sales Revenues!
The Revenue Report Card - 2 December 2015
Is stating that the industry standard of ADR and RevPAR "is an imperfect science" a provocative one?The Merchant Model has been used by Wholesalers, Receptive Operators and, until recently, most OTA's. It is a game changer in analytics.Creating ADR and RevPAR by combining reservation-sources that have their clients pay the hotel in full at check-in with those that accept payment directly from clients, removing commissions before they pay the hotel (net) is mixing apples and oranges.The case is best shown where one client pays the receptive operator $250 for one night and an OTA who requires the client to pay $250 for one night upon check-in directly to the hotel. For simplicities sake, let's assume each is charging the hotel a 25% commission.The receptive operator sends a check or credit card payment for that night for $187.50The On-Line Travel Agent has the client pay the hotel upon check-in for that night $250.00The industry ADR standard calculation takes total Gross Reservation Revenues of $437.50 and divides that by 2 room nights occupied for an ADR of $218.75. Further, that same $437.50 is divided by total rooms available for sale. If we assume hotel occupancy, in this case, was 50% with a total of 4 rooms available for sale the RevPAR calculated by industry standard would be $109.38.The hotel financial statement will show total Gross Reservation Revenues of $437.50. In the "Commission Expense" line item a total expense of $62.50 will be shown.The Net Income in both cases is $375.00. Yet the Merchant Model in essence "hides" the expense component of the Merchant Model within the Gross Reservation Revenue line. The hotel executive never sees it.One can only draw the conclusion then, when comparing your hotel to your competitive sets ADR and RevPAR that it is an imperfect science unless all 5 hotels have the exact same channel mix.If we take a small step closer to a possible reality in Channel Mix the effect is as follows:The statement above, entitled "ADR and RevPAR Compared to Competitive Set", we add an additional channel and hotels with 118 rooms available for sale. All hotels use the industry standard calculation and show ADR's of $330, Occupancy Percentages of 70 1/2 % and RevPAR's of $232.In the middle lower portion of the statement we see the amount collected by Your Hotel and the Competitive Set Hotels. All hotels show Gross Reservation Revenues of $10,000,000.The only change separating you from your competitive set is the channel mix and the volumes received through reservation-sources that pay the hotel using the Merchant Model and those who have clients pay the hotel in full directly.The actual ADR of your hotel is $424.47 compared to the industry standard reported of $330.00. A $94.77 ADR variance.The actual ADR for your competitive set is $361.64 compared to the industry standard reported of $330.00. A $31.64 ADR variance.Your actual ADR of $424.47 compared to your competitive sets ADR of $361.64 shows a $62.83 ADR variance.The industry standard shows your ADR to be $330 and your competitive set ADR to be $330. This would show no variance between you and the competitive set and would lead you to believe that you were taking your fair market share. This of course is not the case at all.The same comparisons can be made in the case of RevPAR which is used to determine and spread revenues over the entire asset (or hotel). All hotels are performing significantly better than that that is presented by the industry standard. If accuracy is the goal, the Merchant Model Effect must be taken into consideration.Below we now show the difference that channel mix and the Merchant Model can make between you and your competitive set in profitability and the amount of cash deposited in the bank.First and foremost, the difference is a material one.This statement, based on industry standard analytics, would lead one to assume that your hotel is taking its fair market share. Yet when we take the Merchant Model into consideration we see that your competitive set is showing a higher profit and depositing additional funds of $600,000.The Optimization Score is simply a calculation that takes the Merchant Model Effect into consideration and then provides a weighted factor that makes the scale used relevant to scoring that we all have become accustomed too in school and or successes achieved in graded operations. 90%-100% excellent, 80%-89% good, 70%-79% average, 60%-69% fair and 50%-59% requires improvement.In essence the score shown is an optimization efficiency score.
The Revenue Report Card - 16 December 2014
Like their accounting counterparts, who largely standardized hotel expenses through the use of a "Chart of Accounts" (Uniform System of Accounts) that is used by the majority of hotels around the world, perhaps now with so much focus on revenue management and optimization it's a good time to do the same with regard to hotel revenues through a standardized "Revenue Chart of Accounts".I have attached a proposed "Revenue Chart of Accounts" to provoke thought and stimulate conversation. It was prepared with a number of factors in mind. The cost of the channel, of course is important in grouping "like-kind" reservation sources. But other considerations in this chart include channel groupings based on last minute sales, typical channel "fill" days of the week that some sources provide, sources who sell directly to the consumer as opposed to those who sell to distributors, average daily rate, typical booking windows and average length of stays.By creating an accepted Revenue Chart of Accounts, revenue managers like hotel accountants, can compare their results, channel mix and channel cost to that of their competitive set or area set.I have written, and will provide an article and White Paper on the standardization of hotel revenues next week. The subject matter will include the many benefits that can be derived through revenue standardization in better optimizing revenues. The article will also discuss identifying characteristics or attributes of different sources of reservation (vendors) that would create a benefit in separating them from those vendors that, at face value, appear to be "like-kind" in nature, into separate channels.Kindly click on the chart below to expand the screen.
The Revenue Report Card - 3 November 2014
There are times, when it is impossible to avoid conflict between the Revenue Manager and CFO (or Controller). At these times, the TRUST (that I have continually eluded to in several Essays) that develops between these two executives (as well as the GM and DOS). As the NFL season gets underway, this not only is a good time to reflect back on this time period, but also could provide some insights into an event that is uncommon and where great demand exists.Many Revenue Managers (hereafter "RM's") have not faced a Superbowl. It is a time of great anticipation and excitement. For me, as perhaps one of the older hoteliers, I had lived through and learned the "harsh" lessons of three prior Superbowls (1999, 1995 and 1989), and so going into Superbowl 2007, I had a strategy in mind and confidence that my position would reap great benefit to my hotels from lessons learned. The problem was that the outside forces ALL thought I had lost my way! In the beginning I had to stand firm on my position, hoping for some buy in from co-workers. My fortune was that I had done well in my management of revenues and so I was given the latitude to go with my gut; despite the potential consequences. I never faltered in my thinking, although so many objections caused me to start to doubt myself along the way, and this is the story of what I believe is the strategy of when conflict in inevitable.As a younger RM my first Superbowls first saw a flurry of NFL phone calls to secure room blocks for the NFL. The next came from the Visitors Bureau who requested that I sign a contract with a large room block with them. And finally, calls from the major networks for their crews followed. The one thing in common was that they all were requesting large blocks and lower rates. As a rookie, I took the bait the first two times around. This would later haunt me in 1995 and 1999. Fool me once, shame on you....The one thing that is assured in Superbowls is that there is tremendous demand and the second is that there is a limited supply of inventory to fulfill this demand. The demand extends to your food and beverage outlets and even lobby requests from advertisers who wish to set up booths and basically take over the "common areas".The dilemma; was that I realized that there was tremendous demand after the final playoff game immediately preceding the big game. There are two weeks between the last playoff game and the Superbowl. It affords you the TIME that I have eluded to through this series. The dilemma was as I mentioned obtaining "buy in" from my colleaguesMy position was simple, of my 425 units in properties I immediately provided a sprinkling of units to the providers that had taken care of the hotel over that past year, and the only caveat was a bump up in rate and a 5 night minimum stay restriction. This accounted for approximately 15 units at each property and to this day, I believe it was well spent. (Needless to say it was important to remember to include Superbowl as a black out day on all contracts written for a Superbowl year).As I approached February 4, 2007 (Superbowl day; we were holding approximately, 395 units and all my channels were closed.Three weeks prior to the game I received a friendly call from one of the Market Managers managing one of the bigger OTA's who asked if I had any room left that I would allow them to sell? When I told her that I was holding all my rooms, her response (I can never forget as she was also a friend!). She said "Richard, are you crazy?! You're going to get stuck with rooms." I did the right thing and gave her an allotment of 5 units in each hotel with MLOS restrictions. Several days later I met with the absentee owner of my hotels for dinner and he casually asked me how Superbowl reservations were going? Again, I said that I was holding all units until the final playoff games were decided. He looked at me, with a look you never want to see in the face of an owner; "Are you sure about this Richard?" I said, based on my last 4 years you have seen my record, I need you to please trust me on this".Do I have to tell you that despite what I knew, I was feeling very alone? I could have taken the easy way out at that time and we would have opened and I would have lost nothing. After all, the way some look at life, taking the easy path and saving face is a safe way to live and "see another day"! But I don't believe that the majority of we Revenue Managers have that option in our souls! I stubbornly forged ahead; risking all, but my prior studies and experiences gave me confidence... I had no fear in my heart.My written Action Plan to reservationists and the desk was that immediately upon the playoff games conclusion we would have two additional agents manning the phones and that we would open up with a 7 day minimum stay restriction and a good healthy rate.As that final preceding game before the Superbowl finished the victors were Chicago and Indianapolis. Both cities were in freezing cold climates and at least Chicago was a major city! We opened all inventory the moment that game ended at 1:00am that night.The first day came in at a trickle; perhaps 7 or 8 reservations; but we fielded many calls and the agents completed their "unrestricted demand (turn away) reports. I had tested the market that first day and felt the restriction was too ambitious, so I immediately lowered the restriction to 6 nights. That day, the dam broke and we were inundated with reservations. After three days I even raised the rate, but kept the 6 night length of stay restriction in place.We sold out in the two weeks we had TWO CHANNELS (Reservations and the hotel Website). The COST of these channels was minuscule. We fully booked our ballrooms and our lobby space. I offer the following chart to you to see the difference in Gross Room Reservations made in viewing one strategy compared to typical strategies.You can see the vast difference that holding inventories produced, with a $491,459 surplus in Revenues for the period. It may be hard to believe but this is the actual affect that resulted.Allow me please to make two final observations.I have always worried about the cities the Superbowl teams would be traveling from. If for example Tampa Bay made the Superbowl and my hotels were in Miami I thought the draw for the longer stays might be difficult. In the above case, despite staying with my gut feeling I worried a little about Indianapolis being a smaller city with smaller potential draw. As you can see it had no effect. Typical guests are coming for the time of their lives and enjoy the lead up week of activities.The anomaly would have been last year where the Superbowl was held in New Jersey where blizzards made traveling and events difficult. Here, I would have changed my Length of stay requirement because airlines and travel was so difficult. The activities were hampered because conditions were so bad that people wanted to get out of the New York area and because they would be hotel bound for so much of the time. So I would have to say that the warm weather cities (most of the time) would be the target for this form of Revenue Management.As another note, the next Superbowl in Miami in 2010 had New Orleans vs. Indianapolis. New Orleans had just been through a devastating hurricane and it made me think hard about the strategy. I stayed with it and can tell you that there was no affect. People from New Orleans came in droves and it was another successful optimized Superbowl with a six (and five) night minimum stay required.The last issue to the hotelier is the fall off of rooms on the Tuesday following the Superbowl, since the game is played at night most people stayed Sunday night. We offered them a bargain rate to stay an additional night and we picked up some interested parties. But the following Tuesday and Wednesday took time to fill and we were about 60%+ after. The amount of revenues generated, however during that preceding week made this a "non-issue".In closing, the TRUST factor and COMMUNICATION between the Revenue Manager, General Manager, Sales Director and CFO (Controller) enabled me to use what I had learned in my hotel experience. I could have, of course been overruled. If you need support, feel free to use this essay! I am a 4 time Superbowler and I did well in all of them, but won TWO! I'm still waiting for my RING!!* - Please note that these are circumstances that occurred for me in Miami, Florida. While I feel strongly about what is written I DO NOT GUARANTY the result for you. Many variables contribute to a successful Superbowl. Your experience may vary. Please govern yourselves accordingly! RichE
The Revenue Report Card - 27 October 2014
First and foremost, many believe, as do I that "budget time" presents a golden opportunity for hoteliers to reflect and consider new hotel strategies. Never before in the history of hotels have so many sophisticated tools been at our disposal enabling us to project what the market is doing, what our competitors are doing, the effect different actions would have on our profitability as well on our reputations. Who better than the property strategist to provide the group with an in-depth look at analytics, channel attributes and productivity then the RM?Unless your General Manager is springing for a vacation retreat, budget time is one of the few periods during the year that can be solely devoted to spending "quality" time between the Sales Director, General Manager, Revenue Manager and CFO (Controller). Like that old accountant described in chapter one; it is a good time to lock the door to the back room and become completely absorbed in revenues with colleagues with no outside distractions.There are some who might like to discuss percentage increases, while others who wish to focus on hotel history and still others who have devised formulas and algorithms that anticipate and calculate revenue outcomes. Perhaps a combination of all of the above makes the best sense. The fact is that some of the hotels greatest talent sits in this room and everyone there qualifies to be a property evaluator and interpreter! So I'd like to present a few things to consider, from the perspective of a former RM and the CFO that can be very relevant to arriving at optimal results.A good start and gauge to put everyone on the same track might be to have the Controller prepare a spreadsheet (as I've presented below) that shows the monthly contribution each channel or segment made toward Gross Reservation Revenue (hereafter referred to as "GRR") in the prior year. Next ask the Controller to apply direct costs (including payroll, direct expense and amortized prepaid and/or capital expenditures to each channel/segment) to arrive at TRUE net channel /segment profitability. The side-by-side presentation (below) will show you the "before and after" affect channel costs have on NET CHANNEL-BY-CHANNEL PROFITABILITY. The analysis below is a simple, seven channel property presentation, for the...."SIMPLE HOTEL".What conclusions can be drawn from this information for the budget meeting?Looking at the hotel as a whole, total cost of all channels is 14.0% (A) and that combined result is good. Let me quickly review each channel.Channel 3 - Website - The low overall cost mentioned above is being driven by the hotel Website which accounts for 35.0% (B) of the hotels total revenues. The cost of this top producing channel is only 4.4% (C). The budget team would wish to keep as many rooms flowing through the channel as are possible, as a start. Look at the conversion ratios on your "Site Search Tracking Program" (i.e. - Google Analytics, StatCounter, ChartBeat, etc.). If there is any room to tweak the site, you may be able to bring even more business through. In the case of hotel websites, the more reservations that go through the channel the lower the cost becomes.Channels 1 & 2, Walk-in and Repeat Guest - Both the Walk-in and Repeat Guest Channels are low cost and account for a total of 3.3% of Simple Hotels business (1.4% (D) and 1.9% (E) = 3.3%). Draw backs are that the Average-Length-of-Stay (hereafter called ALOS or LOS) is low and typical reservations for are on weekends, which are your most profitable days so you may be displacing some higher LOS's and Rates. It's too small and too profitable to tinker with in my opinion and you're also dealing with priority guests in the case of Repeats. Another reason to leave it alone.Channel 6 - Group - The Group Channel in this example supposes that there is a Sales Director, a Sales Person and one Support Staff member. The Sales Director and Sales Manager have wages for the month of $10,000 and with total Sales for the month of $187,495.00 (F) they have produced 18 times earnings in January. If it is determined that the range of production (See Essay 4 - http://revenuereportcard.com/articles/ ) should be 8 to 9 times earnings, they would seem to be on track to meet their annual budget. The cost, also is good at 9.6% (G). Would there be additional opportunities next January to displace some of the higher costing channels with Group Business? The day-to-day analysis can uncover these periods.Channel 4 - Global Distribution System (GDS) - GDS channel costs will vary because hotels will from time to time choose to pay travel agents a higher fee in order to stimulate business or may wish to participate in other optional GDS programs for fees (consortia, etc.). 12.0% (H) of all business is a respectable contribution and perhaps with added options could be pushed a little higher next January to displace some of the BASE and OTA business. GDS could provide additional opportunities here.Channel 7 - Base - BASE business is typically higher volume at lower price and, of course, is contracted. I've adjusted the cost factor to include the RATE discount of $53 from the ADR for the month. A 22.6% (I) cost is high, but other BASE alternatives in the market could be higher. Usually we would look to displace some of this business, but in the case of Simple Hotel they are seeing a higher OTA cost so OTA business logically would be the first they'd want to displace.Channel 5 - OTA - Simple Hotel OTA business is running a cost of 26.8% (J); at times this can be even higher but even using a 24.0% vendor cost here, it is the highest cost channel for the hotel. Why? Part of it has to do with the purchase of banner space, in this case and the other part of course is the commission structure mentioned (usually 22.0% to 30.0%). This can be offset by using some of the less expensive OTA's available (15.0% - 17.0%). In this case the fact that 21.0% (K) of the hotels total revenue comes through this channel means, at face value, it appears to have had a detrimental overall affect. But if the hotel was incapable of filling certain times through other channels, even the higher cost OTA's would be considered a benefit. The ADR paid by the guest here is $416.00 (L) per night yet after deducting channel cost the TRUE ADR became $304.00 (M) after channel cost. Once again, pretty sobering at face value.The RM has the ability to turn all these channels (except Group and Base) ON or OFF and/or adjust rates and restrictions in "almost" real time. His/her input in this meeting as to the structure of the next BASE contract or most appropriate times to entertain Group Business and at what rate, should be discussed. The Sales Director, in turn, needs to provide information on what is likely to materialize and how often.So in "Simple Hotel" while the overall optimization at 14.0% is good, it would appear that there could be some room for tweaking the strategy involving the two highest cost channels. That would be a good discussion for the Budget Team to have.To reiterate, as an RM it is expected that the necessary "reality check" in forecasting achievable rates would be provided by the Sales Director, Controller and GM. It is naturally expected that the Controller will pursue a more conservative approach and that the Sales Director will provide a presentation of what his/her team is capable of bringing in and when. The group can only function if all parts, all the executives, are involved in the discussion. It is for the GM and CFO to mediate and eventually arbitrate the end result.For figureheads and dreamers, budget time can be a great time of the year! It's a time when the right-brained and left-brained meet to negotiate. And when it's over, written Action Plans follow to insure adherence. Budget time can be so much more than just crunching numbers. It should be a time for mental stimulation, thinking and seeing things perhaps in a different way. Open yourself to this, and you will feel whole and satisfied upon the budgets conclusion.
The Revenue Report Card - 21 October 2014
Having worn the different hats of GM, CFO and RM I believe has given me a unique perspective with regard to revenue management. In a nutshell, I can only describe the feeling that the RM has in those final moments when all things have come together, the strategy has worked and those last units are sold, as a combination of exhaustion, triumph and relief all at the same time! That moment of jubilation is shared with relatively few and many on the executive team don't realize the mental exhaustion, effort and considerations that went into arriving at optimal results!With an audience of RM's, GM's, CFO's, DOF's and DOS's, my objective is to describe the mindset of the RM (as well as my own mindset as CFO and GM) as he/she secures as many sell out nights as are possible each week. I"ll also discuss the different considerations available in using scientific and historic studies to arrive at a final plan. Above all, it is my opinion that the RM "in the final days and hours" in which sell outs are inevitable needs to be the Maestro and in control of inventory. As in symphonies, flawless concerts cannot be produced time and again unless the Maestro has put in the necessary time, study, planning and hours that eventually lead to and create exceptional performances.Please note that my many references throughout this piece to "Last Minute Demand or the Final Hour" are actually the two or three day periods leading up to inevitable sell out dates and should not be taken literally as the LAST MINUTE OR HOUR!In filling any hotel and optimizing revenues, tens of thousands of dollars and more can be added to Gross Reservation Revenue when reservations are managed right down until the last rooms are sold. My philosophy as RM has always been, "time is on my side so I can't be impatient, and must use it; all of it". i.e. - If I"m two weekends out (in this case as an oceanfront tourist destination) and SOLD OUT this far in advance, I most likely haven't done the best job I could have. I had two more weeks in which I could have waited to fill the property; two more weeks to wait for those optimal reservations to come through. In some cases those may be with four or five night MLOS restricted sales, at higher rate combinations or a combination thereof."Last Minute Demand" typically has the RM more energized and focused (in that the game becomes more consequential) and I carefully planned, administered and clarified these times through written Action Plans each week in communicating with my team. High Demand, is capable of bringing in the most lucrative net results. At the same time, it can also create obstacles in which consequences are severe. An example of this might be when a single weekend night is sold out, and a high number of units remain unsold on the day before and the day after the sell out; obviously this blocks any ability to sell through with MLOS reservations. The Parity of units left to sell throughout potential sell out periods therefore, are consequential. The maestro and his/her team need to be in sync and conducting business until the last rooms are sold with a strategy that anticipates the possibility of overselling and walking reservations; every possibility is taken into consideration.Who we walk and who we protect are predetermined. Where we walk and how they get there secured. Nothing is left to chance. When the RM walks out the door at night, a "WHAT IF" WRITTEN ACTION PLAN is in place and followed. It details what should be done as different scenarios present themselves and as the hotel approaches the inevitable sellout dates. If demand causes the hotel to fill too quickly, rate categories and/or restrictions in only the most profitable channels are adjusted to take advantage of time. In some cases less profitable channels are closed.Revenue Management is a science. Through study, the RM can accurately forecast how many NO SHOWS will materialize and how much NO SHOW REVENUE will be generated. Because no science is perfect, there will be bumps in the road at times and occasional WALKS to comparable hotels, but the true strategist rarely deals in walks. Needless to say, the beauty of NO SHOW REVENUE is that there is no associated cost. Realizing this type of income each week means found money, higher RevPAR and higher profit. It is always icing on the cake.Managing the parity of units available to sell (i.e. - Wednesday 88, Thursday 82, Friday 80 and Saturday 80) must be carefully administrated. At the weekend destination, we wish to keep our remaining rooms to sell from Wednesday to Saturday as CLOSE in parity as is possible while considering the demand we (through the scientific study of PACE in each channel, history and area results) are confident is coming in. We can often keep these numbers "tight" by manipulating rates, specials and restrictions on a daily basis.The RM will know when to HOLD and when to RELEASE units for sale, if CHANNEL PACE dictates that demand will NOT BE SUFFICIENT to fill preceding week dates the strategy changes to accommodate this. The key is to constantly monitor reservations and cancellations, have daily revenue meetings and know the characteristics of your channels and how productive they can be in the short run and at what profitability.Weekday meetings can be short and productive with shared opinions and observations around the room from all sales members. Each day's analysis presents new opportunities on how to achieve the most lucrative course of action. Again, new opportunities can mean a change in strategy.No bone of contention should exist between the CFO and the Revenue Manager during "Last Minute Periods" when the overall property strategy is clearly defined. Likewise, securing necessary rooms at another property for walks should never create apprehension on the part of the RM in exercising his/her strategy. WALKS are inevitable and the greatest profitability is always achieved when some SCIENTIFIC RISK is taken. The competent RM will get it right the vast majority of the time.Communication is imperative so that there is trust between the GM, CFO, DOS and RM. A note after the weekend with results is often the best way to keep everyone abreast of the strategy outcome for the weekend.When the overall property strategy is clearly defined the Executive Team exercises instructions to the RM as to whether policy should be conservative or aggressive (scientifically challenging). There are some that will wholeheartedly disagree with a more aggressive philosophy. Some executive teams would rather play it safe and never risk walking a guest. While that has to come with the acknowledgement that there will be empty rooms due to NO SHOWS that is a decision that is justifiable and must be observed if it is the will of the Executive Team.The exceptional RM will make thousands upon thousands of dollars during those "Last Minutes" of manipulation, holding and releasing inventory. And when handled correctly he/she is exhausted but satisfied at the sellout, realizing optimal results have been achieved. For an RM, life is beautiful when he/she can calmly prepare for bed knowing that the plan worked and the house is full!The next topic in the "Bridging the Gap" Series will be on: Budgeting and Revenue Management and released on Monday, October 27, 2014