- Revenue management tasks were manual
- Surfaced a need to be more precise when pricing complex inventory, leveraging a combination of machine learning & automation
- Same store ADR growth in excess of 50% YOY through peak demand months
- RevPAR on track to surpass prior peak (’19) by +40% annually (’21)
- An easy-to-use tool aligning a variety of job roles across organization
Founded by entrepreneur Sheila Johnson in 2005, Salamander Hotels & Resorts delivers comfortable luxury through signature, immersive guest experiences. The company is based in Middleburg, VA, and has a small-but-mighty destination-resort portfolio featuring the flagship Forbes Five-Star Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg; Half Moon, an iconic luxury resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica; the grand Hotel Bennett in Charleston, SC; Innisbrook Resort in Tampa Bay, an annual PGA TOUR stop; and The Henderson, a sweeping beach resort in Destin, FL.
When he was hired, Brian Covington, Salamander’s Vice President of Revenue Optimization, had a goal to automate revenue management for this maturing brand. He involved key stakeholders from every discipline, from Finance to IT, in an evaluation process to determine the best revenue management system (RMS) partner for the growing portfolio of destination properties.
“It was simple: our manual revenue strategy took a lot of time and effort, and we needed a system to help us achieve our full potential,” said Covington.
One of Salamander’s properties, The Henderson, is a large, luxury, full-service resort. A new concept in in its market, it had a competitive advantage, but this also made pricing its rooms more challenging—a problem often shared across Salamander’s portfolio.
“We opened with 170 hotel rooms in 2016, and in 2018 we added 46 vacation-rental units, which demanded a very different rate strategy,” said Alex Landers, Director of Revenue & Reservations at The Henderson. “There wasn’t anything else of our size and caliber in the area. Trying to figure out how to price ourselves was an involved process and took a lot of work. We knew we needed a revenue management system to help us navigate the waters of our unique market and enhance our dynamic, competitive pricing strategy.”
A Robust, Versatile & Easy-to-Use Solution
In 2019 when it was selected, IDeaS was familiar to some within Salamander and new to others. But it soon gained unanimous support across the portfolio as the right technology partner to drive its long-term strategy of total revenue optimization.
IDeaS has the most robust solution. G3 RMS enables a more holistic approach to revenue management, allowing us to not only optimize rooms, but also groups, F&B, conferences, and golf—all in one solution at the rate-class level.
The decision was met with approval from the property revenue teams, including Landers. “IDeaS G3 RMS stood out in our evaluation process as having great visualizations and dashboards, making it easy to consume and understand data and then share those insights at a higher level,” she said.
Shortly after the decision was made to partner with IDeaS, Stephanie Waples was hired as Director of Revenue Management for both Salamander Resort & Spa and Half Moon, helping further usher in a new era of technology-enhanced revenue management for the portfolio.
“I love G3 RMS and was excited to join Salamander to help implement the system, educate the teams on the benefits of IDeaS, and maximize revenue,” said Waples, a long-time IDeaS user with a wealth of revenue management experience working with a range of systems.
Since implementation, G3 RMS has become an integral part of Salamander’s day-to-day processes, proving itself to be a versatile, reliable, and easy-to-use tool for a variety of job roles across the organization.
“I’m in the system multiple times a day looking at various optimizations, business reviews for groups, and usage across the portfolio to be sure we’re driving adoption,” said Covington. “It’s enabled us to support a more integrated, proactive strategy and make faster, smarter decisions.”
It’s not just the revenue team that benefits from the tool, however. “Our entire sales team uses the Group Pricing Evaluation feature,” said Landers. “The general manager is in the system daily to see where we’re at, and we pull up the At-a-Glance screen in our weekly leadership meetings to better understand our forecasts and make decisions about things like labor and cost controls.”
Replacing Estimation with Data-Driven Intelligence
“IDeaS gave us greater confidence in our dynamic pricing strategy,” said Waples. “We’ve seen amazing results in terms of ADR, and being able to price and forecast by room class has been huge—not only for transient/leisure but from a group evaluation standpoint as well.”
The boost in ADR and RevPAR resulted in record performance for Salamander’s portfolio despite property closures and other pandemic restrictions during this time period. G3 RMS was instrumental at helping the resort properties capture the growing domestic leisure demand at optimal rates.
“We’ve seen an average growth of at least 40 percent on an annual basis across our portfolio,” said Covington. “It’s been a high-water mark in terms of performance that I would totally attribute that to our well-positioned business from a leisure perspective, our excellent teams, and last, but certainly not least, IDeaS G3 RMS.”
Some Salamander properties don’t engage in overbooking as many destinations lack of viable walk options. But G3 RMS has still enabled the company to better overbook by room type and manage multiple upgrade path combinations, based on both bed types and view types. The results of this strategy have been maximized ADR and increased guest satisfaction.
“The system has really helped drive rates and revenue at The Henderson, especially during the pandemic,” said Landers. “From a transient standpoint, the resort grew June 2021 ADR by 33 percent over 2019 and 29 percent over 2020, and in July we ended 50 percent over 2019 and 46 percent over 2020.”
As IDeaS G3 RMS continues to better understand the intricacies of Salamander’s unique business needs, the portfolio’s revenue team has also learned to let the automated solution do what it does best, giving them the confidence and bandwidth needed to focus on what they do best: executing forward-looking strategies and providing high-quality guest experiences.
“We had to learn to trust the system but the results are in the revenue,” said Covington. “I have nothing but praise for IDeaS; everyone has been so easy to work with and very responsive.”