Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Rafayel Management Lesson 7

REVENUE MANAGEMENT or Online reputation management - Which is more important today?

Without proper online reputation management backed by proper service, there will be no REVENUE to MANAGE.

Today, the hotel industry is not just about REVENUE MANAGEMENT but all about delivering services exceeding expectations. That is the true definition of the service industry.

Rafayel’s revenue management strategies
We at Rafayel try to instill in our young staff the spirit of service and arm them with knowledge; we teach them and let them be aware of high standards of global hospitality industry. This is the most important task that an employer faces, i.e., to inspire courage of service and character of integrity. There is no doubt that REVENUE MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES form the bedrock on which Revenue Management & Distribution forecasting process for effective decisions are based.

All Hoteliers should try to master the best practices of Revenue Management.  Creation of a dynamic Revenue Management Action Plan is the most important issue. Through a dynamic revenue management action plan only a hotel can achieve an optimum 'Pricing and Product mix.' A hotel cannot build an effective budgeting and forecasting plan without an effective revenue management approach. 

But alongside REVENUE MANAGEMENT, every hotel truly faces a dilemma to ensure that revenue keeps exceeding targets. No guest means no revenues to manage.

Insensitivity to modern-day citizen journalism can cause a mighty fall
I see great hotels closing down and falling on the wayside, and generally, the infliction is the lack of care and disasters that are rooted in the open world critical medium of citizen journalism.

Hotels just cannot cope with this open world of ours.  They are not equipped in dealing with a situation that just does not end on departures, or neglecting a customer complaint.  This complaint becomes an albatross around the neck – once the review is on the site, it appears straight away on any search. The soft belly of the industry is now exposed as never before to millions of prying and paying customers who will be happy if you care and unhappy if you dismiss them as numbers.

Integrated approach at Rafayel
In today's world, we teach our employees – from HSK to F&B – that an integrated approach is most important.  An employee should be jack-of-all-trades in the first few years of service and then move on to specialised expertise.  A good hotel cannot survive if it does not practise today the mastery of Internet Distribution and SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING that is integrated with employee’s sensitivity to customer demands.  The employees have to be educated and told that everyone expects from them – from top to bottom.

Where does General Management lie?
Mastery of these channels is a tricky question. It is not about loading pictures that don't meet the actual site.  In this modern day and age of a connected world and citizen journalism, only goodquality will survive.  A General Manager who sits beyond the sights of the front office is bound to fail.  General management of the hotel IS in the front office.

Great hotels of the past were known by the General Manager’s first name.  It was services that were the pride.  If one doesn't like 'people' one should not bother to be in the industry.  It is about caring and about people.  In Plaza Athenee Paris, from 1970-90's, Mr C would stand two hours every morning in the halls to greet and “hi” Royalty like King Hussein and Empress Farah Diba of Iran; all would feel safe in the hands of Mr C.

Online Reputation – one of the be-alls
A Hotel should promote and handle their online reputation using social media tools such as, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, GooglePlaces, TripAdvisor.  This reputation is only skin deep if it is not built on two things – integrity of your service and acceptance of your weakness.

The marketing strategy of a hotel nowadays should be totally reliant and sensitive to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Places, Trip Advisor, and or The challenge is that critical reviews of customers pose serious questions which can only be addressed transparently if the hotel answers them well and tries to create a hurdle of high expectations for its brand.

It is the Citizen journalist and thousands of guests who decide 'your' fate in the marketplace. No amount of lexicon and shiny paper brochures would do the trick until the service at core delivers what the glitzy brochure promises.

Crossing the hurdle of expectations
The hurdle of exceeding expectations has to be crossed by the industry and this can only be achieved by instilling values that are customer-oriented. That is a huge benefit and bonus customers have obtained as a result of global open market of reviews and criticism of the facilities. Undoubtedly 1-2% of the customers do try to take advantage of this weakness of reviews that impact businesses, but if the hotel is committed to exceed expectations this can easily be addressed. 

Social networks or communities like Facebook blogging sites like Twitter get more traffic than Google. People spend a lot of time per day on these websites communicating with friends and searching for new things. 

Online reputation management and responding to guest reviews on TripAdvisor is the key to coherently answer the issues that any business faces. More and more websites and online travel agencies allow consumers to review the hotel they stayed in. The number of citizen journalists has also grown through the easiness of creating a blog on the internet.

The hotels today need to stay up to date with what people are writing about the company and hotels on the internet.

There are many tools out there charging a lot for getting your scores and fancy reports. But really all that matters is to know when and what is written about you. A Review tracking system for a hotel on blogs and travel review websites like TripAdvisor, is most important.

Building a simple DIY guest community – Be honest, be smart
Launch a hotel blog or client / guest community. Simple.  Your online hotel marketing strategy should go beyond promoting your hotel. In the end people are coming for the destination, and the hotel is a result of the trip.  Therefore, lies and fabrication don't work.  Only honesty and integrity will work in the open global sourcing of services.  The next customer usually testifies to the integrity of any negative review one way or another.  If the customer is wrong, the next review will alleviate the charges; and if the customer is right, the next review seals the fate of the hotel.

Long arms of the…internet!
Hotel media marketing strategies definitely should aim at increasing the presence, reach and exposure on the internet beyond the hotel website. Potential guests use many different platforms to do travel research.

The blog should include:
Add hotel reviews to your website for free? A two-way sword but adding critical reviews on the first page has great advantage of transparency and openness. Using open source technology freely available on the internet, traveller experiences from public hotel review sites can be filtered and displayed on your site as an objective opinion.

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