OPTIMIZE2016 Day 1: The Hospitality and Gaming Roadmap

Author: Rainmaker

The first day of OPTIMIZE2016 began with the general session lead by Rainmaker president Tammy Farley and Rainmaker CEO Bruce Barfield. Keeping the theme of the presidential election year, the “debate,” moderated by Eian Counts, gave Farley and Barfield platforms that reflected their goals for the upcoming year in revenue management.

 Bruce Barfield at the OPTIMIZE debate

Both executives were excited about the upcoming year for Rainmaker. Barfield said, “2016 is your year. We have rebranded to make things better for you. At OPTIMIZE2016 there is more than ever before – more insights, more content, more innovations.” Farley echoed the sentiment, emphasizing that this year’s focus is about overall revenue management, not the individual multifamily housing and hospitality/gaming industries. “Professional development at RMG isn’t a hospitality issue, isn’t a multifamily issue, it is a revenue management issue.”

The morning’s sessions wrapped up with a keynote speech from Michael Tchong, globally renowned trend analyst. His speech spoke to staying nimble in the ever changing world of technology and he emphasized the importance of  keeping an open mind. Tchong said, “Opportunity to innovate can come from anywhere at any time.” He reminded attendees of the history of Apple and how the innovation of the iPod evolved into the development of the iPhone and how those devices have changed the digital landscape. Tchong pointed to the fact that Apartments.com is reaching more people than ever with 76% of potential residents starting their search online first and that creating live/work spaces that integrate multitasking and technology is “par for the industry landscape.”

Michael Tchong at OPTIMIZE

Mid-morning’s keynote panel featured senior representatives from the multifamily, hotel and institutional asset management industries. The panel included Isaac Collazo, Vice-President, Performance Strategy and Planning, InterContinental Hotel Group; Timothy Bright, Senior Vice-President, Clarion Partners, LLC; and Julie Brawn-Whitesides, Executive Vice-President, Property Management, ConAm Group.

The panel discussed the economy, the outlook for 2016 and the implications for revenue optimization.


Have we reached the peak yet in the economic cycle?

chart showing whether people think we have peaked in the hospitality cycle

Each panelist gave their take on revenue management priorities for 2016:

Julie – More money for tools to optimize opportunities in the cycle and being ingrained in technology through innovation in business intelligence, which means more money for clients.

Isaac – Demand (highest occupancy ever, last records were set in 1995 – totally different industry now) and optimizing the mix on days of the week.

Tim – Compliance (still see situations where people don’t follow the program and go rogue and defeat what we are trying to do).

Does Airbnb matter in your industry?

chart asking whether AirBnB matters

Attendees were polled and asked whether or not Airbnb mattered in their industry. The results were almost split into thirds with 35% responding too early to say, 37% responding yes, and 32% responding no. Collazo stated “The hotel industry has a higher standard – bed bugs in hotels? Crazytalk. At someone’s apartment isn’t a big deal. How do you balance and convenience consumers that we are a better option for short term stays?”

Will Airbnb be a good thing for your industry?

chart asking whether AirBnB will be a good thing in the industry

Bright believes that the main issue with Airbnb is liability and that ability to take advantage of the spot market during a special event. Because housing only during special events is not a focus and because so few people are participating, Bright is not concerned with Airbnb being an immediate threat. In regards to apartment residents using Airbnb, the panel agrees with residents having guests but having 3-4 guests a month should warrant a “tax” for renting space, as some cities have already implemented.

Are Millennials and their taste changing your business?

chart asking whether millennials are changing the business

The panel was asked were millennials more sensitive to the “add-on” model (resort or amenity fees) in the hotel and apartment industries. Brawn-Whitesides stated, “Yes, I do think they’re sensitive to it. A few years ago we weren’t so focused on billing those fees back. Today, it may have been a better solution to increase the overall price rather than nickel and dime.” Bright takes a different approach. He said, “I think there are some things that are ok to be a la carte.  Parking utilization has changed a lot, so I think, you see people who don’t have cars using car sharing, uber etc. so separate parking fees are appropriate.”

After the keynote address and panel, both multifamily housing and hospitality/gaming attendees had options of various sessions to choose from. Here's a recap of the hospitality sessions.

Hospitality/Gaming Roadmap Session

Rainmaker covered the many updates for hospitality and gaming products.

revcaster 2.0's new features:

  • Unlimited data storage
  • Enhanced user experience
  • Improved reports/analytics
  • Incorporating new data sources, such as Airbnb data

grouprev is moving from a quantitative pricing view to a qualitative view thanks to new Cvent partnership.

guestrev's progress:

  • guestrev web is now live!
  • guestrev notifications, both on web and mobile

    Robert Levine delivered a day in the life of a revenue manager demonstration using guestrev web, stating ,“We were able to rely on the mobile app just this morning when the hotel system failed."

revintel now provides the following:

  • LMS and Visual One interfaces
  • Report scheduling
  • Additional modules, such as spend analysis and sales & catering modules
  • Ancillary data     

How Airbnb is Blurring the Lines Between Hotel and Home

Expert Tom Caton delivered data about the effect Airbnb is having on the hotel industry. AirDNA has been collecting data on Airbnb for 15 months and providing insights into pricing occupancy, and forward looking demand.

 Caton debunked common industry myths about Airbnb, such as:

  • Airbnb is for people who can’t afford hotel rooms
  • The listings are full of illegal hotels, which will shut down eventually
  • Business segment will never leave hotels

 Caton stated that what matters with Airbnb is not listings advertised, but listings actually booked and once people list their apartments/homes for an event, the listings tend to stay live afterwards. A session attendee asked if Airbnb will become a channel for hotels? The answer is that this is much like what happened with OTA’s — they opened the market to independents in the same way Airbnb is opening the market to private homes.

 Caton states that the next step will depend on where you are and what your hotel property looks like.

No Revenue Manager Left Behind: How Revenue Management Forecasts Work

Part one of a two part series, Dan Skodol discussed simple to complex forecasting methods. Skodol states that accurately creating and using a forecast requires that you ask the following questions:
  • How do I look at this from a revenue and rooms perspective?
  • Do I have opportunities in specific segments?
  • Are my rates set correctly based on where I am today?

 Skodol advocates that marketing/PR efforts should be included in data/forecasting discussions, so that specific campaigns can match room availability. Participants got the chance to use both revintel and revcaster to determine a sample hotel’s gap to February forecast and any pricing changes they would recommend and make.

The 50-State Strategy – Total Revenue Management

Angie Dobney provided tips for tracking, segmenting and implementing total revenue management from the experts – leveraging learnings from the gaming industry in the traditional hotel space. She discussed the stakeholders that should be included in revenue management meetings. They include:

  • Marketing
  • GM’s
  • Sales
  • Casino
  • Entertainment
  • Operations
  • Finance
  • Leisure Sales

Dobney also gave tips for total revenue management implementation and bringing the entire team on board to reach the goals. These tips include:

  • Stop working in silos!
  • Get people excited
  • Listen to your customers
  • Experience your product
  • Everyone is on the revenue management team
  • Change your incentive plans

Energizing Your BASE! New grouprev Functionality and How it Improves Group Business Decisions

 Dan Russotto, who created Decision Street, spoke on the exciting new partnership that will bring lead scoring to grouprev and how to increase function space utilization via a new Free Sell Calendar. When developing Decision Street, Dan stated that he was told “You should build a product that helps score leads for marketing, sales and revenue management.”

He has now been a part of Cvent for a year and a half after Decision Street was bought into the company.

Cvent’s lead scoring key criteria takes into account:

  • Size
  • Profitability
  • Hotel Fit
  • Availability
  • Pace
  • Account Relationship
  • Competition
  • RFP Score
Russotto emphasized the benefits of applying lead scoring to grouprev, which include:
  • Allows sales to spend more time selling
  • Focuses on the best leads
  • Shortens response times – crucial to be first in responding to RFP’s

Read our full recap of the event and learn more about OPTIMIZE2017


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