New Year’s Predictions from RevPAR Guru emphasize the importance of automation for maximizing opportunities

It’s close to year end, and the usual flood of Top Ten lists and predictions for the New Year is in full flow, some useful, some not.  However, I wanted to summarize one from Jean Francois Mourier and Bruno Perez, co-founders of RevPAR Guru.  Although naturally slanted towards their specialty, many of their Top Eight Predictions reflect a good balance between recognizing reality, spotting opportunities and using technology to get the most benefit from them, all themes close to my heart.

1. Less is sometimes… less – Business is still likely to be down for much of next year, staffing levels will continue to be below recent norms and yet hotels must look for incremental revenue.  Implication: managers will be pressured to improve their systems, to relieve the operational burden on their staff.

2. Auto, Automate, Automation – Despite traditional caution in investing in systems and software in this environment, automation in specific departments can increase RevPAR and ADR, and free up revenue management staff for proactive planning.  Automation is a winning strategy for 2010.

3. RevPAR Resurgence – As occupancy slowly picks back up the emphasis will be more on RevPAR than lose-lose price wars.  Hotels will do all they can to bolster RevPAR, from improving or updating their revenue management systems to offering new ancillary services.

4. Building for a Recovery – Hotels will get back to making what investments they can in revenue-generating initiatives as CapEx becomes slightly more available.

5. Supply Pipeline – The pipeline of new room inventory is still intact but only producing a trickle of new rooms coming online.  2010 is unlikely to see a sudden influx of new hotels, allowing existing properties more leeway to take advantage of slow but real occupancy growth.

6. ADR Rising – Business travel is poised to make a comeback though probably not to 2007 levels.  Hotels’ decreasing reliance on deep discounting will lead to higher ADRs which, if combined with effective revenue management to optimize occupancy, will in turn lead to improved RevPAR.

7. Information is King – For 2010 efficiency is an imperative, and especially so to leverage available information effectively to improve rate setting and establish a competitive edge.  Revenue management systems that use information on competitors’ rates for optimal rate adjustment will continue to gain favor.

8. Bit by Bit – The smallest but well-timed variations in offered rates, particularly over multiple online channels, can make the difference between optimized occupancy/RevPAR and lost revenue.  Hotels will become increasingly aware of the benefits of real-time rate adjustment and will invest in automated systems to manage this.

More than anything, innovative properties and chains will eke out a considerable competitive advantage over their lagging peers. There are always opportunities; in 2010, the key will be seizing them when they present themselves.

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