Four years ago, Theresa Prins left her position in Revenue Management at the Vineyard Group to strike out on her own and started Revenue Resolutions. Here, she works with hotels to optimise their revenue and streamline their operations so that they’re operating as effectively as possible. We chatted with her about booking trends for the year ahead as well as some of the ways in which she’s helped her clients over the past year and a half – plus, she shares her advice for getting through the continued effects of the pandemic.
What is it about hospitality revenue management that you enjoy?
I think most hoteliers would say they love people … well I like people behaviour. Revenue Management is all about studying customer behaviour and then changing the way you sell to those customers to get a different outcome. Even as Founder and CEO of Revenue Resolutions I get to work with hotels across the world and seeing the difference in customer behaviour is astonishing.
What have some of the highlights and challenges been for you?
I am super proud of the brands that I have worked with so far and the having worked with clients across the world. I love making a difference and seeing us all excel in tourism is very rewarding. There are some incredible people in the world and count my blessings for those that I have connected with.
I think my biggest challenge is still the misconception of what Revenue Management really is about. Like Rome was not built in a day, nor is a good solid sustainable revenue strategy. Surprisingly one thing that isn’t a challenge was my perception that Hospitality Revenue Management in South Africa is far behind the curve compared to other countries. It still surprises me that no matter where I work the challenges are always the same.
What are some of the booking trends that you’re seeing now, and any insights into the upcoming summer season?
For the upcoming summer season I believe we will see a similar behavioural pattern as last year December. We will have good domestic travel between now and the point that we experience the 4th wave. I believe there will be a fourth wave it is just a matter of when and how severe it will be, but we will see a dip in travel again. It is therefore important to optimise the travel that we are getting now.
Once travel is allowed again post COVID restrictions, we will see Leisure Tourism recover back to a similar norm as pre-COVID, but I think it is going to be interesting to see how Business Travel recovers. There will be conflict between the need for the salespeople to meet face to face vs the financial need to maintain costs now that we have learned that online meetings are effective. Don’t get me wrong there will be corporate travel, it will just be different. Booking trends now is all about the experience for people and what gives them good value for money. People have learned the value of their hard-earned money during COVID and when they spend this it must have good value or return install for them.
How have staffing needs changed?
Many hotels are operating on skeleton staff still and many hoteliers has lost their jobs and changed careers. Staff at hotels has taken on multiple roles and is not just focussed on one aspect like before. It is important though to invest a bit in the staff still working so that the business can thrive, and staff be rewarded for loyalty. Training is always a good investment and there are many affordable online options available these days.
Can you give us a couple of examples of how you’ve helped clients weather the Covid storm this year?
My clients had different needs during the COVID period, some desperately needed the cashflow, while others needed demand, but brand integrity is more important to them. Where cashflow was not the only form of survival we worked on pushing visibility online to ensure future customers are aware that they are still here. We focussed on growing the ancillary revenue of each customer that we did manage to convert generating revenue in other areas of the business as well, as well as expanding retail sales to non inhouse guests. Clients that are dependent on cashflow, we focussed on bringing in cash in a sustainable way. Selling last minute deals at reduced rates, rewarding customers for buying now and travelling later, reducing costs, and exploring sales channels that were previously not on the radar.
Is there any general advice you can share with hotels on getting through the challenges that the pandemic continues to cause?
We all know that tourism will recover, so although times are extremely tough in the industry the focus is to survive and survive long enough to benefit from the recovery period. The need to generate cashflow is very real but when you do this make sure it is a strategy that is sustainable, make sure you still cover your cost of sale, flexible operating costs and a little more to contribute to fixed costs. Cut costs where you can, we hang onto expense items because historically we needed it. If it is not needed now and it is not comprising your brand drop it, even if it is just temporarily. Always explore new avenues, even if you have previously not considered it. Support your colleagues in the industry and support your community we are all in the same boat striving to survive.