- Handling the unique demand circumstances of airport hotels
- Slow to react to market changes
- Gained back nearly 20 hours a week allowing hotel to be more strategic
- Increased awareness of changing market conditions and how to adapt to them
The gateway to cosmopolitan Vancouver and cultural Richmond, the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel is the only soundproofed luxury hotel and spa within Vancouver International Airport. Featuring 392 spacious guest rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows and breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and North Shore Mountains, it’s easy for guests to forget they’re just an elevator ride up from one of the busiest departure terminals in the world. Whether traveling for leisure, group events or business, guests can enjoy amenities to match.
However, if you spoke with Ann Merenda, director of revenue management at the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel, not everything at the hotel is as tranquil as the guest experience. One of the challenging aspects of being an airport hotel is that business books within a very short timeframe—usually only 30 to 45 days ahead—making it extremely difficult to forecast occupancy and ensure the hotel has the right rates for the right customers at the right times.
“If you looked at our reservations 60 days down the road, you’d be really, really nervous,” joked Merenda. “However during winter—the hotel’s busiest season— flight delays and cancellations mean that we can book up to 100 rooms in a given night or go from 60 percent full to 100 percent full within a few hours.”
Due to the fast nature of the business, the hotel needed a way to quickly monitor booking trends so Merenda could spend more time proactively generating revenue instead of identifying changes in the market.
An automated RMS for increased efficiency
After researching solutions, the hotel discovered IDeaS Revenue Management System (RMS). Within the system’s “User-Defined Alerts” module, Merenda is able to define several conditional alerts that automatically monitor market conditions and proactively alert Merenda when there is a change in the market. Merenda can then use this information to assess whether to take action. Alerts can be defined to monitor for sudden changes in IDeaS RMS’ forecast from one day to the next, or identify future dates where the hotel’s booking pace differs from the previous year. Merenda identified several creative applications for this tool, allowing her to spend less time seeking out these special conditions and more time taking advantage of the information.
“In a high-pressure environment marked by uncertainty regarding demand, the alerts module is a welcome warning system for market conditions that need investigation,” said Merenda. “For example, if the business segment is performing better this month than it did during the same month last year, I’ll look to downtown Vancouver for a cause.”
The alerts also notify Merenda if the forecasted occupancy has suddenly increased or decreased— either by a certain percentage or specific number of rooms—since the day before. The information will prompt Merenda to examine whether it is a result of a dramatic change to the business on the books or other conditions affecting the forecast and take action if needed. For example, if the leisure forecast for an upcoming weekend abruptly drops, with the alert notification, Merenda has the foresight to review her competitors’ offers and strategize on how they can steal market share through the company’s brand website, www.fairmont.com.
IDeaS RMS also allows Merenda to be precise in her alert definitions, including the monitoring window and defining some alerts by season. For example, if the hotel’s contracted business segment is demonstrating better performance in the fall than the summer, the alerts module prompts Merenda to investigate.
Proactive strategy for accurate results
The biggest benefit of the alerts module is that it frees up time spent searching for special market conditions so Merenda can spend more time generating revenue.
“Prior to IDeaS RMS, we spent a lot of time gathering data and throwing it into spreadsheets to analyze it and determine trends,” said Merenda. “With the automated system from IDeaS, I save between three to four hours of manual labor a day, allowing me to spend more time strategizing to ensure that room revenue targets are met.”
Using IDeaS RMS, Merenda’s occupancy forecasts are usually within 50 room nights for a compressed period as far as 60 days out—an extremely accurate forecast for airport hotels.
“In a fast-paced environment like ours, having a system in place that provides support for making revenue decisions further out is key,” said Merenda. “IDeaS RMS, specifically the alerts module, is like a big heads-up for identifying opportunities to maximize revenue.”