How to Take the Guesswork Out of Competitive Intelligence

Anna Ransom

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Revenue managers know that the unofficial description of their role is one who can place the right customer in the right room at the right time at the right rate from the right distribution channel at the right (i.e. lowest) commission possible. That’s a heavy lift.

“The biggest challenge with revenue is that good is not always good enough,” says Joseph Bustos, director of revenue for YOTEL New York.

Revenue managers need a wealth of information to make the right decisions at the right time. Relying only on historical data doesn’t provide a full view of the operating landscape—for both the hotel and the competition. Case in point: If you look at last year and see that bookings and average daily rates (ADRs) at your hotel were up in March and lower in April, you won’t necessarily experience the same this year. Why? Easter and spring break vacations might be at different times. There may have been a big snowstorm last March. Plus, the economy is always in flux and travel budgets can change accordingly.

Additionally, analysis of your competitive set’s history only provides just one part of the story. Does your hotel maintain the same marketing, prices, offers, and group packages year after year? No—and your competition doesn’t either. Groups that you may have won previously may now choose the competition based simply on rate—a rate disparity that you didn’t catch because you didn’t have current intel.

To be sure, current competitive data that can help hoteliers is out there on websites and online travel agencies (OTAs). However, spending all day scouring websites for competitive rates, packages offered, room types, Wi-Fi, free breakfast, shuttle transportation, and more is not an effective use of anyone’s time. What’s more, information found on websites still doesn’t provide detailed insights of rooms booked into the future—at three, six, nine months and a year out—for a full picture of the competitive set.

What can take the guesswork out of competitive intelligence so hoteliers can start making smart, quick decisions that drive revenue and profitability? Consider these four key elements:

1. Comprehensive demand data—both historical and forward-looking

The ability to analyze pick-up and real business on the books for your property as well as your competition can give you an edge for maximizing RevPAR and outperforming the competition. Look for business intelligence that delivers forward-looking demand data, including ADR and RevPAR rank compared to your competitive set for 30 to 90 days. Request customizable alerts about critical market changes to be delivered right to your inbox, so you can take action at the precise time.

Demand360® has helped the hotel in seeing areas for opportunity. It allows us to validate whether or not internal pace is in-line with what the market is also producing.” –Bustos

2. Comprehensive rate data—both historical and forward-looking

The ability to establish strong rate integrity across all segments and channels, coupled with the opportunity to update rates quickly, give hoteliers a clear advantage. Hotels that can track their competitors’ performance for past, present, and future dates will have an advantage for setting attractive rates. Look for a business intelligence solution that compiles rates from hotel brands, global distribution systems (GDS), and OTAs, supplying you with real-time, sanctioned shopping rate data, so you can identify market compression and opportunities to maximize ADR.

Rate360® gives lots of information that we incorporate with our own system to make sure my pricing is in-line with where we want it to be. I like the option to pull ad hoc rates.” –Bustos

3. A thorough analysis of your standing on global distribution systems (GDS)

A firm understanding of your hotel’s effectiveness on the GDSs in relation to the competition will fuel a solid strategy for improved revenue and profitability. Also, discovering which agencies are booking into your competitive set—but not your hotel —will help you reveal the best opportunities to snag. Fully understand and get the most from this channel with a business intelligence solution that provides 100% of travel agent bookings from all major GDSs.

Agency360® gives sales managers a path to go after new business. It shows us what business is in the area, and if we are not getting that piece of business, it gives sales managers goals to achieve that.” –Bustos

4. A firm grasp on alternative accommodations

The short-term rental market, also known as alternative accommodations, has significantly expanded in recent years. It’s also left revenue managers without substantial intelligence to compete beyond their traditional competitive set. Look for a business intelligence solution that delivers comprehensive analysis of rates and occupancy globally across the most popular short-term rental sites. Armed with this data, hoteliers can spot trends and compare alternative accommodations by location, source, type, bedroom count, proximity, and price.


Bringing It All Together

Beyond having access to this business-critical data is the ability to bring it all together into one intuitive interface. TravelClick’s Business Intelligence Hotelligence360® platform allows hoteliers to view dashboards from Demand360, Agency360, Rate360, and Alternative Accommodations in a single location. In addition to having actionable, at-a-glance data, this platform provides revenue management teams with solid data to present to senior leaders.

Watch Joseph Bustos’ full story here.

Learn more about TravelClick’s Business Intelligence solutions here.