Hotel Revenue Management in an Economic Downturn: Results from an International Study
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The sudden reversal in the lodging industry’s fortunes from 2008 to 2009 has brought a renewed focus on revenue and profitability for revenue managers. In a survey conducted in 2009, 291 revenue managers cited concerns about customer rate resistance, contract renegotiations, competition, and price wars as their top considerations. This contrasts with a 2008 study, where human resources and technology issues were ahead of economic concerns. Participants in the 2009 Revenue Management Roundtable, produced by the Cornell-Nanyang Institute of Hospitality Management, concurred with the study’s findings. In particular, the meeting participants pointed to the difficulty in maintaining pricing positioning, because the drop in demand has shifted considerable pricing power to the customer. Although many hotels can compete effectively on price (and others may have little choice), revenue managers may also draw on numerous non-price competitive techniques, including adding value. One pricing approach might be to create a set of targeted rate promotions that are protected by rate fences and designed to attract price-conscious guests. Another technique is to bundle services into packages that disguise room rates. Non-price techniques include competing on the basis of quality, creating strategic partnerships, taking advantage of your loyalty program, developing additional revenue sources, and developing additional market segments.