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Sun 17 Jan 2010 04:00 AM

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Maximise revenue through increased connectivity

ResNet World director of operations Shane Mansell urges hoteliers to think carefully when selecting a CRS provider in order to avoid paying over the odds for the service they receive.

Maximise revenue through increased connectivity

I speak to hoteliers on a daily basis and it is no surprise that the main topic of discussion is the existing economic climate and the effects of the current recession on revenues.

The good news is that today's recession will undoubtedly be followed by tomorrow's economic upturn. So, in today's climate, hoteliers should work on diversifying their revenue channels to ensure they maintain fair market share as economies rebound and occupancies start to increase.

The single most important way to gain revenue opportunity is through the proper utilisation of the hotel's Central Reservation System (CRS). Whether your customer wants to book through a travel agent, a third-party website, or directly with you, your CRS will provide that capability 24 hours a day. Those who practise well thought out electronic distribution strategies will not only maximise revenue now, but will also position themselves to outperform their competition in the future. Those who delay and react to the economic upturn will be left behind.

One of the most important decisions a hotel can make is the selection of their CRS partner. The key word to consider when making this decision is ‘partner'.

A CRS provider must be willing to work with you to ensure revenue opportunities are maximised. This means listening to you, understanding your needs and most importantly, rolling up their sleeves and actually working for you in the electronic reservation market.

CRS providers are often guilty of signing hotels, providing them minimal training and then filing their paperwork in a drawer. If the most common communication from a CRS provider is in the form of a monthly bill, there is truly something wrong with that partnership.

Choosing a CRS provider is not always an easy decision. There are some top tips to ease the selection process in the box opposite, but the most important issue is to ensure that your provider is ready to work for you and earn your business.

And don't forget: this is a buyer's market. Be willing to pay a fair price, but be clear about what you expect from your provider before you sign a contract. They are the experts, so be willing to rely on them to follow up on the promises they make. Look for companies you trust with your future and always remember...the future is bright!

Shane Mansell has 18 years' experience in the hospitality field and currently holds the position of director of operations at ResNet World. Details:
www.resnetworld.com

or +971 (4) 448 7222.

Top tips for selecting your CRS provider

Customer support

Call this what you want; account manager, revenue specialist, revenue architect, etc, but ensure that you are going to be assigned a representative of your CRS partner's company that will know your property, will understand your goals and will spend the time needed to grow a positive relationship with your staff. If you are simply a property ‘number' to your CRS provider, it is time to make a change.

Size doesn't always matter

Do not fall into the trap of assuming that the largest CRS providers are the best solution for your property. Each hotel will have its own unique CRS strategy that is based on location, regional economic climate and regional buying habits. Only utilise the tools that will show a measurable return on investment for your property. Avoid spending budget on items that are packaged in larger deals that will not benefit your property.

Fair cost for services

The operating costs for a CRS company are largely transparent in the market. The same pass-through costs apply to everybody in the field. Be wary of large monthly fees that are not tied to extra services. Watch for excessive ‘maintenance fees'. In the end, your monthly fees paid out to CRS providers should be directly proportional to the amount of revenue they bring you. If your performance suffers, then so should theirs. The CRS provider should follow the mindset that their success is dependent on your success.

No long-term contracts

If a CRS provider is truly confident in their ability they should not require a long, multi-year contract.  There is no basis for this and there is no expense to the CRS provider that should justify requiring multi-year contracts with heavy cancellation fees. You should reserve your right to cancel your contract if you are not satisfied with the services you are receiving.

When agreeing to a contract, make sure the CRS provider is compensated fairly for future reservations beyond any suggested cancellation date, but do not be pushed into signing a long term contract that can potentially cost your property thousands of dollars in either lost reservation opportunities or cancellation fees.

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