What are the top 3 pricing factors?

Triangulation is defined as a method of pin pointing a location by measuring the distance between two points whose exact location is known, and then measuring the angles between each point and a third unknown point. The process is used in land surveying, GPS technology, and commonly to locate cellular signals.

Hotel pricing, if we break it down to the basics, is very similar to triangulation… in fact nearly identical. In our balance of art and science, we evaluate three factors: 1) Demand, 2) Need, and 3) Market Pricing. You will find the right price at the intersect, ultimately positioned based on how you weight each of the three factors.

All three factors are critical. The demand for your property and your resulting need are fairly straightforward… you already know these two factors very well. Regarding market pricing, there is an ongoing (healthy) debate as to how much your competitive set should play a role in your pricing decisions. I will promise you this… if you are ignoring your competitive set, you are the only person ignoring them. I guarantee your potential customers are not ignoring them! Your true competitive set goes beyond the four or five properties you have selected for your competitive rate shopping reports… especially if your property is in a destination market or a busy city. In fact, your actual competitive set is slightly different for every potential customer, because today’s customers are extremely savvy. To truly price correctly, we need to shift this ‘competitive set’ focus away from a strategy born decades ago, to one that leverages all the data available today revealing what the market will bear.

If demand is strong, you have little inventory left to sell and the market pricing is strong, then you should obviously raise rates (see illustration).   As these factors shift, when viewed through this lens you’ll easily see where you need to adjust. You’ll want to jump on any opportunities to capture more revenue… don’t wait!

Avoid analysis paralysis… triangulation will help keep you focused on these critical three pricing factors.

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Set your price right and stop wasting time. Here’s how.

Piles of internal reports, competitive pricing reports, STR reports, emails from the sales team, all jamming your bandwidth and stealing your time.  Ok, usually all of these different sources of information have tidbits of valuable data, by the time you sort through it all and make sense of it valuable time has passed and now you’re late for the next item on your daily checklist.

Our team has practiced revenue management for years, and we have lived that scenario a thousand times.  It happens.  So how do you clear all that noise, save time, and make better informed pricing decisions?

You need a one-stop shop for pricing data, a tool that shows you the current published lowest daily rates, and right next to that the market fare forecast – what the competition will be charging, and what price you actually need to compete with.

If you price right at the lowest published competitive rates, you might feel good about that price today… until tomorrow when you see the competition raised their rates (or lowered them!). If only you had known that the market rates were trending up, or down, you could have been one step ahead with your pricing strategy.

Fare-1-1 delivers the Market Fare Forecast, Lowest Daily Rates, and published current Daily Hotel Rates.  Search through them with ease, see what specific hotels are priced at your rate, see who is priced higher and lower… with ease.  In seconds.

Your fancy, expensive RMS does not do that.  Fare-1-1 does.

Please feel free to join the discussion by leaving your comments, or contact me directly at askjames@fare11.com.

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Situational Awareness

Situational awareness is critical to success.

A long time ago, someone very wise offered me great advice…

Situational awareness. Always be aware what is happening around you.

When setting your rates, this awareness is critical. Your price should always be set first and foremost based on your property’s own supply and demand situation, then adjusted to maintain your competitive edge and protect market share. This is where situational awareness plays a big role.

So you set your one night length of stay rate at $149. You then need to compare your new rate against the market, and upon checking the Lowest Daily Fares you see the lowest comparable rate in your market is $159. You also see that the Market Fare Forecast predicts your market will be priced at $189, as the rates in the market are trending up over the past week.

How does that new rate look now? Your new rate at $149 is leaving $10 on the table, and very likely actually $40. The opposite of this scenario also presents opportunity… if you are $40 higher than where the market is headed, you will want to adjust so you don’t lose occupancy for the sake of protecting rate.

Situational awareness is great, immediately helping you identify small opportunity… but when you gain insight and take action to properly position your hotel in the market based on what the competitive rate will actually be, you really unlock hidden revenue and profitability.

Don’t just rely upon a spreadsheet that regurgitates what rates are found online… don’t simply react to the competition! Gain insight with valuable data found in the Market Fare Forecast, take action and drive your business.

Please feel free to join the discussion by leaving your comments, or contact me directly at askjames@fare11.com.

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Worst Decisions Ever

Worst Decisions Ever

A client recently asked us what were the worst decisions ever we observed over the years. Revenue managers make a lot of decisions daily… everyone makes mistakes. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes, and not repeat. The next few posts present some lessons our clients have learned.

Blindly following the leader and dropping rates.

Don’t blindly match the new lowest rate in the market. This race to the bottom is a dangerous game, and not a sound hotel pricing strategy. First and foremost, you should always price your property based on its needs, its own supply and demand. If you are high on supply and short on demand and a competitor drops rate below your own, we recommend a couple things. First, run the numbers to see how many lower priced bookings you could take and still make forecast and budget… know the numbers. Second is there a way to drive demand without a ‘public’ rate drop? Can you run a package sale, drive opaque bookings, etc.? Do you really need to match that new low rate, or maybe just fine tuning your price by dropping it a small $10 will win?

If you run a package sale, or a room upgrade promotion, it will give you something to talk about (marketing!).

Where is your inventory need? If not in your lowest room category, and you drop your lead rate, you just diluted that demand and failed to target the actual need.

Tomorrow we will present another lesson learned and observed!

Please feel free to join the discussion by leaving your comments, or contact me directly at askjames@fare11.com.

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It’s Time To Sweat The Small Stuff!

We have all heard someone offer the cliché advice “Don’t sweat the small stuff!”  If you’re anything like me, that drives you crazy.  As a revenue manager, we live for the small stuff.  After all, it’s the small stuff, the 1-percent gains that translate into the BIG stuff… so, we sweat the small stuff, and justifiably so.

While we’re being honest with each other, there’s actually quite a bit of ‘stuff’ in our world.  Conference calls, reports, rate parity, inventory management, sales and marketing meetings, training, revenue meetings, group requests, contracts, competitive reviews, and so on.  This stuff is important, and deserves your attention… but it’s not the small stuff. 

Situational awareness of your competitive rate position is powerful small stuff.

Ok, I admit… it’s a bit of a love-hate relationship.  We love being the story tellers, after hours of digging through data and completing analysis that makes us smile as we find those tidbits of supporting evidence that add up to strategic insight.  There’s nothing that compares to persuading a board room audience to shift strategy based on your analysis and being proven correct… and we love it.  We hate when stuff pulls us in 17 different directions and we lose valuable time we’d rather spend on that analysis we were just about to finish… especially when it’s the fourth meeting in a row and the agenda includes reviewing the upcoming revisions to the cubicle floor plan.  Not something we love.

Managing your time is perhaps the most important job skill you can develop.  What this really means is not allowing other people to manage your time.  Ensuring analysis is based on the most recent data, improving accuracy and updating forecasts, refining analysis with improved segmentation, working with the sales team to make sure they understand the forecast changes; these are just a few examples of the small stuff that simply must be deeply integrated into your daily schedule.  Seriously… the small stuff should literally be scheduled on your daily calendar.  Assemble a daily and weekly checklist, and block time on your daily schedule.

Make sure you actually have access to and reference the right small stuff.  This speaks directly to your competitive rate analysis! Fare-1-1 provides daily updated views of the data you need… Market Fare Forecast pricing by length of stay and trend behavior, lowest daily fares, and more!  All conveniently located on our Dashboard.  Set alerts and you don’t even have to monitor reports… you’ll get an email alert!

It’s our professional duty to sweat the small stuff, and the first step is being the master of your own time – save time and increase revenue!

Time to sweat the small stuff.  Good luck!

Please feel free to join the discussion by leaving your comments, or contact me directly at askjames@fare11.com.

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Do You Need To Fix Your Rates?

At times as a child, I was overly-dramatic and often made exaggerated facial expressions to the point that my mother would often sternly tell me “Fix your face!” I can only imagine some of the ‘before and after’ expressions I made.

Today, revenue management (RM) has grown well beyond setting rates… we applaud the RM evolution. There’s one problem, however – as we spend more time on other things, we must not allow ourselves to forget the basics. If you find yourself in lots of meetings discussing how your property can drive demand, be more creative with marketing, how the sales team can be more aggressive and effective, re-tuning offers and incentives, maybe there is a more important question: Do you need to fix your rates?

Clarification: As a practice, revenue professionals will often defend rates suggesting rates should only be dropped as a last resort, after all marketing and sales efforts have been exhausted. In theory, this is true… however, it is also based on the assumption that your current rate is the right rate… I’m suggesting you stop and ask yourself if it is, in fact.

You can spend hours designing gorgeous, captivating campaigns, adjusting offer reinvestment, setting higher sales goals, but if the rate is wrong it will bleed into every part of your strategy. How do you know if your rate is wrong? If your rate is set solely based on the competitive set (are you chasing the lowest market rate?), based on the budget or forecast (setting your rates to support the last forecast?) or some other equally arbitrary guidance, you need to fix your rates.

As a revenue professional, whenever I found myself starting to look at ways to drive bookings, I always paused and asked myself this critical question: Do I need to fix my rates?

If the honest answer is yes, you’ll want to act fast. The first thing you need to do is assess what your goals are… how does your demand forecast compare to your available inventory? Are you trying to sell the hotel out (closer arrival dates) or are you trying to get your pace back on track (longer lead times)? Once you establish your goals, you need to understand what rate your inventory is actually selling for. If your rate is currently set at $100, and the rate you are achieving after promotions and discounts is $80 then your rate is probably 20% too high. Promotions, discounts, and the like require planning (and time and money!)… you will always be better off selling the inventory outright by setting the right price.

Understanding the trends in your market that impact your property are crucial, as well. Once you have your goals set and understand what rates will actually sell your inventory, you can take a look at what the competition is doing and fine tune your pricing decisions accordingly. Simply matching the lowest rate in town is never a good idea… you need to take a more analytical approach and make decisions based on the needs of your property. Perhaps you don’t have to beat the market by offering the lowest rate in town… especially if the market is moving rates up.

Fixing your rates is not always easy… but always necessary. Make sure you have the tools you need to make the best business decisions.

Please feel free to join the discussion by leaving your comments, or contact me directly at askjames@fare11.com.

Sign up for a free trial at Fare11.com today, and visit us on Facebook.com/nopricegaps.