A commercial strategy platform is a tool that consolidates siloed data for and provides AI-based analysis and strategic recommendations for a hotel’s three revenue-generating departments — Revenue, Sales, and Marketing. These recommendations are based on market insights and forward-looking consumer buying behavior not found in revenue management platforms used by hotels today.
A commercial strategy platform helps surface actionable insights from your hotel’s data to optimize your profit-driving strategies for sales, marketing, and revenue management. The entire commercial team then acts from the same data source, enabling the three departments to more effectively and accurately use the correlated data.
Hotels depend on data for key decisions regarding their pricing and sales initiatives. But that data isn’t helpful to all teams — revenue, sales, and marketing — if that data is siloed or otherwise inaccessible to even one of them.
A commercial strategy platform solves for siloed and inaccessible data in three steps.
- It aggregates pricing, inventory data, market data and consumer buying habit data.
- It correlates the data in a way that all teams can access and understand.
- It uses logic to provide strategic recommendations based on its AI analysis.
The benefit of course is that each team’s view is relevant to them and all teams work from the same data.
Why is a commercial strategy platform important?
A commercial strategy platform (CSP) provides your revenue, sales, and marketing teams with a holistic view of your entire hospitality business — current and past pricing and inventory, as well as forecast data and recommendations. From this data, the platform provides each discipline with actionable recommendations, which helps you have a more strategic impact on your hotel’s revenue.
It’s easy to focus on Average Daily Rate (ADR), but, organizations must balance their focus on their hotel’s overall profitability with segmentation, pattern management, and cost per acquisition. CSPs evaluate business currently on the books and determine an accurate forecast by allowing sales and marketing to target the right kind of business at the right rate.. Additionally, the CSP provides recommendations for a typical booking window for the specific segment, which is crucial in creating effective sales and marketing to target that business at the right time.
Managing revenue is important, but it’s just one piece of your larger picture toward profitability. CSPs provide the data that revenue, sales and marketing need in a single location with correlated data and recommendations.
Knowing the correct booking window for each segment is also a critical piece of maximizing profitability. For example, if the booking window for families going on summer vacation is 90-120 days, then sales and marketing can push out the promotion and messaging to the right segment at the right time. CSPs provide recommendations from the correlated data that can then drive the segmented campaigns. And hotels that target the right segments within their expected booking and research window can increase the total value of their bookings.
LodgIQ’s commercial strategy platform uses what’s called a “willingness to pay model” that analyzes what a customer is willing to pay based on a wide range of data including historical tendencies and responses to price points, sales patterns, customer footfall, weather, current events, and holidays. It then provides pricing recommendations.
Disparate Data Leads to Disconnected Teams
A hotels’ revenue-producing departments — revenue, marketing, and sales — are often disconnected either physically or by their systems. Different systems means different data.
Even if their data is the same, it’s not formatted in a way that’s legible for one department or another. And that’s to say nothing about whether those teams’ systems can integrate with each other.
Tay Mauro is VP of Commercial Strategy at Legacy Hotels and experienced it firsthand. “When I came into my role, our revenue system was different from our channel management system, which is different from my CRM system.” All their data was in different places.
The result? Slow and inefficient decision-making.
Businesses can’t act quickly enough to adapt to market changes and optimize their sales.
Siloed data puts businesses in a constant state of explaining past decisions to leaders, instead of determining a strategy to move forward.
When hoteliers review past data to explain what happened in the past, they cannot capture lost revenue or learn for the future. The data also often simply tells what happened, not why it happened, making it difficult to fix or re-create. The separation of the revenue, marketing, and sales teams adds to the challenge and creates an even larger divide in data and collaboration, leading to guessing about the correlation of actions and results.
CSPs review the data to learn both positive and negative takeaways. The platform provides insights about why something happened so hospitality organizations can see a strong correlation between actions and results. The teams can then make shifts and alterations to strategies before the hotel falls behind in profitability goals.
Revenue Management Platforms Help, but They’re Just a Starting Point
Businesses have improved some of their data blind spots with revenue management. But that’s only one piece of the puzzle. They provide data, but don’t necessarily improve profitability. The platforms largely serve only the revenue department, not the sales and marketing teams. And they can’t help any of these teams understand their customers or learn how to strategically increase sales.
These revenue management platforms act as little more than data wells to the sales and marketing teams — there’s data in there, but it’s in the dark and it takes work to get it out. For that data to be of any benefit, these teams still must analyze and parse that data. These teams must also attempt to correlate the data with their team’s own data to understand current and future business.
Additionally, revenue platforms don’t include the extensive customer data that sales and marketing need for personalized pricing and customer experiences. The data also doesn’t provide the correlations and recommendations needed to apply the results across multiple use cases.
Organizations often expect revenue platforms to save them time and increase profitability. But these platforms actually lower productivity. Revenue management platforms also requires the sales and marketing teams to spend additional time gathering and analyzing data if they are even given access to it at all.
Lori Kiel, CCO, Kessler Collection, replaced their revenue meetings with strategy meetings that encompass the needs of all three departments. With team members from revenue, marketing, and sales around the same table, they can all work together on different elements to create a unified strategy.
How a Commercial Strategy Platform Helps
A commercial strategy platform uses data from revenue, sales and marketing to identify the correlating data trends to provide insight relevant to each discipline. However, the platform analyzes the data for each department’s needs and then displays the data in a manner relevant for each of the three teams.
Removes department bias
A commercial strategy platform removes department bias from the process by creating more accurate insights that lead to smarter business decisions. The system analyzes the data without any self-interest and provides insights based on the overall company goals rather than the goal of a specific department.
Revenue, sales, and marketing have their own departmental goals that determine how they are evaluated. The revenue department works to meet budgeted revenue goals and have the best standing in the STR report. At the same time, marketing wants the maximum ROAS (return on ad spend), and the sales team wants to close every deal. But the goal of each team is often at odds with those of the other teams.
For example, the marketing department wants to prove high return on ad spend. As a result, they’re incentivized to spend more during a time of high bookings, such as a local festival celebration, to improve their ROI. The revenue department pushes back on marketing spend during the event because the hotel will likely fill up without high influence marketing. They want marketing to spend more during times of low demand.
A CSP provides unbiased recommendations for pricing and campaigns that benefit the overall profitability not focusing on a specific departmental goal. Instead of unknowingly working against each other and lowering profitability, revenue, sales and marketing now work together towards the same goal with insightful recommendations.
Commercial strategy platforms make recommendations by using AI analysis of the data instead of predetermined rules. By comparing the potential total value of the group with a robust displacement analysis, LodgIQ makes recommendations for group bookings, such as optimal group prices and alternate dates as well as to the hotel as a whole: segmented forecasts used by the director of sales and historical data of the property and market.
Traditional RMSs, by contrast, optimize rates and restrictions but only service the revenue department. The raw data does not help companies make decisions meaning teams must devote considerable time to analyzing and understanding the data. The data provides only limited business value with no analysis included.
Revenue management platforms also operate with rules that are often counterproductive to the ultimate goal of maximizing revenue. Rules may be competitor-based, such as “Do not price more than $10 higher than (a specific competitor).” This assumes the competitor makes smart pricing decisions. Additionally, rules may have specific floors and ceilings, such as “Don’t price higher than $X.” That strategy, however, limits revenue potential.
Moving to a commercial strategy platform
Technology is simply the first step for using a commercial strategy platform. Hospitality organizations must also change their processes as part of the shift.
In addition to bringing the three department’s data together, Mauro brings the teams together physically. He holds a monthly meeting for revenue, marketing, and sales to talk through the key metrics for each department. The goal is to make sure that the teams are telling the same story and everyone is on the same page.
However, the commercial strategy platform serves as the foundation. Hospitality organizations that implement a commercial strategy platform now will lead the digital transformation of their company and the industry instead of playing catch up. With accurate data, elimination of data silos, and improved collaboration across teams, your organization can more effectively improve profitability through better pricing strategies.