If you’re in the market for a new revenue management system (RMS), “The question you should be asking at every step of the evaluation process,” according to Clayton Morgan, CRME, senior corporate director of revenue management and optimization for Welk Resorts, “is, how will this simplify my life?”
Here are questions that revenue leaders from across the hospitality industry suggest asking any RMS provider you’re considering:
How does your algorithm work? “There are some red flags that often get kicked up during the course of those discussions, and they tend to hover around the black box,” Gardiner said. “The black box is what I would describe as the ‘secret sauce’ that conducts the forecasting and produces the optimization. If you’re having discussions with a provider that is not able to speak to those things intelligently, then I would run.”
How much flexibility is there on cost? “Find out how flexible they are on cost,” said Angie Hughes, director of revenue management and ecommerce for Bartell Hotels. “It’s not just the total amount, but can they structure the costs in a way that’s advantageous to you in the near and long term?
How does your RMS facilitate multi-property management? “Revenue managers love being analytical, but it’s a double-edged sword,” said Sandy Chun, vice president of revenue and asset optimization for Engage Hospitality. “It’s easy to fall into analysis paralysis when you’re dealing with multiple properties. How does the system solve that?”
Does your RMS support our pricing strategy? “If you need open pricing, does the RMS support it?” Hughes said. “If you need hurdle values, does the RMS support it? What if you need both?”
Is it easy to change our rate structure? “For example, if I want to change my rate structure for the next three weeks because I’ve started to see an increase, I now have to go in and manually make changes for seven rate codes and three different room types,” said Carolee Moore, vice president of revenue management and ecommerce for Crestline Hotels & Resorts. “So, I have three highly intelligent strategists — well-paid, director-level folks — who are going to spend the next three hours doing keystrokes.”
Does your RMS support configurable intraday pricing? “Once a day is useless,” said Jennifer Schneider, vice president of revenue optimization for the Americas for Radisson Hotel Group. “And how much control do you have over the timing? Overnight means different things in different time zones. If you select one time zone — say, East Coast — and it’s going to do it at 6 a.m., you’re interfering with check-in and checkout.
How will your RMS optimize staff time? “What are the efficiencies gained, and how many hours does it save our team?” said Karen Codilla, CRME, CHDM, corporate director of revenue and distribution for Outrigger Hospitality Group. “What’s our team doing with those freed-up hours, and are they being more strategic? Are they finding more optimization opportunities and actioning on it?”
What type of post-training support is available? “After you get through training, it can be difficult, to reach back out to the provider to say, ‘Hey, I need help with this,’” said Stephen Milham, director of revenue management for Kingsmill Resort. “I’ve seen it a lot where there are flowers and roses before you sign, but once there’s an issue, you’re on your own.”
Adapted from The New RMS: A Buying Guide, a white paper from HSMAI and Revenue Analytics.