“The future of Revenue Management is now”
With this statement in mind, the student-led Symposium about revenue management was organized. The Symposium was organized by Marc Thomer and Timo Köster, in collaboration with Harpinder Singh and Nicole Offerein, who are students and lecturers at Stenden University in Leeuwarden. They were inspired to learn more about revenue management in real life after studying the subject for a test. They thought it was a great idea to combine the theory from the books with the real life industry of Hospitality. According to Marc, aligning the theory with the real industry will make it smoother for graduated students to put their theory into practice. Four speakers from the Hospitality industry were invited to share their knowledge about the topic and to have a debate afterwards with the students.
The idea behind organizing the symposium was that the hospitality industry is very dynamic and that revenue management becomes more and more important in the future. The image that most students have in mind concerning revenue management is that it is all about facts and figures. One of the organizers, Marc Thomer, holds a different opinion about the subject. He thinks that although there are indeed a lot of facts and figures are involved, revenue management is also linked with other areas that are of interest to the industry like customer loyalty and marketing. The guest speakers all have a lot of experience in the hospitality industry and some have been studying at Stenden University themselves.
An example is one of the speakers, Bram Speelman who studied International Hospitality Management at Stenden University, previously called Christelijke Hogeschool Nederland. He is a revenue support manager at Bilderberg Hotels, and his idea about revenue management is that it is very product centered and that it is a day-to-day tactic aimed at trying to fit every part together like the well-known game of Tetris. He also shares the idea that revenue management is not only about revenue but also about customer loyalty, brand awareness and evaluating how to select the best blend of customers for your company. The idea is that a company should get maximum value out of the customers and that it is difficult in the industry to attract the right guests because of the high competition and low differentiation. However, he thinks that it is important to be remarkable and shared the following statement: “Being remarkable is worth making a remark about.”
One of the other speakers was Linda Schwaab who is currently working for Park Plaza Hotels Europe (PPHE) as a loyalty and partnership manager. She also studied Hospitality Management at the Hotelschool in Heerlen. She has been working for PPHE for ten years now, and is of the opinion that revenue management is combined with customer loyalty. She stated that customers who are loyal to the hotels spend more money and pay a higher average daily rate than non-loyal customers. Furthermore, she informed the participants about the fact that the length of stay is higher for loyal guests and that the actual return is higher. In addition, she explained that brand awareness is important and that it can be increased by a loyalty program – like the loyalty program of PPHE that is combined with the Carlson Hotel group. Although it is a quite new program, it has been stated to be the best program with the highest returns and has about eight million members.
Moreover, there was one speaker who especially flew to the Netherlands and came to Leeuwarden from the United Kingdom named Duncan Bramwell, who is currently managing director of Duncan Bramwell and Co. He has a lot of experience in the hotel industry and operations and has worked for the Intercontinental Hotel Group for eleven years. According to Duncan, 99% of revenue management focuses on selling rooms. In addition, he shared his ideas about ten trends that are occurring in the industry. To start with, he stated that 2012 is the year that everyone MUST travel. Instead of just planning to go abroad and seeing the world, 2012 is the year that leisure as well as corporate customers are actually going to travel and Duncan wonders if the industry is ready for this. Another trend is the social media. Although people are not massively booking their rooms via social media, it is a growing trend and is often used to gather information. Although more and more apps are developed for mobile phones, Duncan believes that the booking systems are still a bit too complex to work optimally via a mobile app. The hospitality industry is also a bit nervous about the developments in social media because of the lack of control. One more interesting trend is the survival of the travel agencies and the increasing influence on the market. Although the market is relatively transparent and customers can book their own holidays and flights it is interesting to see the trend that customers are going to the travel agencies as soon as more than one thing has to be booked at the same time. For example, if a lot of flights have to be booked after another, or if next to the hotel a car needs to be rented, customers are still going to travel agencies. In addition, the personal contact combined with the latest technology is one of the main distinguishing characteristics of the travel agencies. The final trend that was discussed is the trend of the emerging markets or also called the BRIC countries. The BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – are growing at a much faster rate than the developed markets. This means that it is interesting to invest in these countries and to establish a good competitive position.
The fourth and final speaker of the symposium was Sandy Loup, a lecturer of revenue management at Stenden University Leeuwarden. She has experience with revenue from the airline industry and keeps up to date with new developments in the industry. Her statement was that revenue management is Complex, Challenging but Interesting. Furthermore, she shared some questions with the audience about if it is actually possible nowadays to segment the market and how to make customers book your hotel. There are also questions in the industry how to manage the data – because the amount of data is increasing – and how to find capable staff. According to Ms Loup, there are no real answers to these questions: the only advice is to become more creative as a company and to think out of the box.
After the speakers informed the audience about their view about revenue management it was the audience’s turn to share their opinions in a debate about a certain statement. The audience was divided into three groups, each with one of the guest speakers to help them when necessary and to interact about the subject. In the end it can be said that there is no right or wrong when sharing your opinion about revenue management and that revenue management entails more than only facts and figures. We like to thank the Timo Köster, Marc Thomer, Harpinder Sing and Nicole Offerein, for organizing this event and we can say that they can be proud to have organized such a successful, interactive and informing symposium, well done!