The Hotel Revenue management role is continuously evolving, getting more comprehensive with time, as they now delve down into various key functions, wearing multiple hats at a time. However, as technology continues to make a deeper impact in our lives lending a complete makeover to the industry, the question arises whether revenue managers would continue to play the leading role that they do now? Alternatively, are they going are going to evolve into an even more important role or be simply replaced by technology? Let us take a dig at it…
Artificial Intelligence Powered Robots
Artificial Intelligence has already taken over the hospitality industry by a huge storm. Hotels across the globe have been adopting some exciting and unique ways to streamline their functions and move ahead at a faster pace. Interestingly, many have started experimenting with robots, with a large number of countries already going head over heels for robotics. Besides using them for guest interactions and concierge-type services, these astute machines are aiding the revenue leaders in hotel bookings, transactions, managing demand and capacity in the hotels, and a whole lot of other things. Being able to break down complex data into interesting insights and trends, these industrial-strength machines efficiently arrive at optimum room prices with a lot of ease and speed.
Forward-thinking hotels across the globe are therefore increasingly basing their strategies on advanced solutions provided by BOTs.
Robots are powered to do much more; these futuristic machines are introducing an enormous value to the world of revenue management. Besides determining prices, the automation-driven robots squeeze the data to identify the target market segments, help the management device specific promotional activities catering to different segments, and suggest if any discounts or specialty room rates should be introduced for some of them.
Providing a critical analysis of the industry trends and demand factors, the robots could generate consolidated revenue reports, through which an appropriate forecast for pricing could be made. Hotels that have not yet toyed with the idea of using these magical devices, would find it strange to see the revenue per available room numbers splash on their own.
Image Credit: eHotelier (http://ehotelier.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Automation.jpg )
Adoption of Robotics Worldwide
Robotics, though at a fairly nascent stage, has already brought waves of change to the hotel operations worldwide, with Japan as a clear world leader in adopting robotics technology. A new survey of 6,000 travelers in Asia, Europe, North America and South America conducted by Travelzoo reveals that 80% of travelers expect robots to play a big part in their lives by 2020 and that they are mostly comfortable with the idea that robots will play a role in their holidays.
According to the survey, German and French respondents were the least enthusiastic, while Chinese and Brazilians most positive about how robotics could enhance their travel experience. Clearly, the introduction of robots is a welcome move as far as the hotel operations are concerned. For revenue management, we are yet to see the results.
The Future of Revenue Management
The industry sits back and ponders – are the robots going to steal the show from the hands of revenue managers, putting their roles in jeopardy? The answer is, NO. Though these nimble, sci-fi, revolutionary machines intelligently squash out all the necessary data and details to arrive at the best possible solution in no time, the question arises is that the best possible solution always ready to be implemented in all cases?
We reached out to experts from the Hospitality Industry to gather their opinion on this burning subject.
Mr. Kiran Suthar, Director of Revenue Management and E- Commerce, Kupu Kupu Resorts, shared his valuable insights on the subject. “Earlier days Revenue Manager used to manage the OTA and Website and do the yielding exercise; after some time Revenue Managers started managing Groups and Banqueting. Then they have started analyzing Room + F & B Revenues and after then they became Total Revenue Managers analyzing, Managing and Developing revenues for Room+ F& B + SPA+ MODS. The Current Role of Revenue Manager is very active with Total Revenue Management + Digital Marketer + Opportunity Seeker + Business Analysis”.
Adding further he said, “The Role of BOTS in Hotel Revenue Management is nowadays getting more important as most of the travelers or major share of travelers are Millennial; BOTS are like robots in digital display page who boosts the popularity or increases the search results, it also helps scripts to play its role effectively. If in Hotel Revenue management the BOTS are used wisely and with the balanced sequence, you can lead your competition and get the higher visibility and your chance of getting booked can be increased, increasing your hotel profitability. BOTS are like normal Robots you need to program them very well to function properly”.
We contacted Mr. Kunwardeep Singh, Manager Customer Success, RateGain, and an Ex-Revenue Manager, Taj, and Oberoi, about his views on this topic. As per him, “BOTS/Technology will understand inputs the way they are, for example for a BOT/Tool, conference means same and would consider the equal loss in materialization. However, a Revenue Manager knows the difference between a Pharma conference and a Dealer conference and can predict the wash better than technology. However, to make his life easier, technology can give revenue managers a starting point to know history and develop his decision on top of that using his instincts and emotional level. There would be a clash many times, and the decisions given by the revenue manager would most likely take the lead”.
Adding further, Miss Karen Pawlikowski, a seasoned industry expert said, “This is where human expertise and intelligence comes into the picture and makes it clear that the role of hotel revenue managers would continue to remain untouched in the days to come. The revenue managers take into account various external factors like recent developments in the hospitality industry, new hotel coming into the locality, etc. which the system might not be aware of, and would greatly affect decision-making. For example, there would be times when the BOTs suggest a price hike, and the revenue managers suggest the prices to remain unchanged basis his understanding and information available outside the system”.
BOTs, powered by artificial intelligence, are definitely the next big thing in the field of hotel revenue management. By efficiently taking away most of the tasks performed by the revenue managers, these machines would most likely free them from some crucial responsibilities, helping them focus on other vital functions, where human involvement is essential. The modern day revenue managers are already aware of the challenging times ahead. They seem to be engaged in pulling multiple gears to add more value to the system, as their role demands muech more now. Surely, they need to be more evolved, learned and well-informed, having the technology by their side to facilitate them in decision making.
Having said this, the future certainly looks to be different. A human brain and intelligence have no substitute in this world, and the reasons for this are many. The creativity and experience that it can bring forth, can do wonders and revolutionize the working of any industry beyond boundaries.
Thus, in an ideal futuristic scenario, we see BOTs as a great counterpart to revenue managers, which need to have the guiding hands of humans to ensure the best growth-oriented results. Hotel Revenue Management, if driven by both BOTS and seasoned Revenue Manager’s simultaneously, would put the hotel on the path to success.
Kiran is the Director of Revenue Management and E-Commerce at Kupu Kupu Resorts,Bali.
Karen is currently working with RateGain in leading hotels through revenue and distribution optimization strategies to achieve more profitable business
Kunwardeep is currently working as Manager Customer Success at RateGain. He has worked as a Revenue Manager for Taj Hotels and Oberoi Hotels