When we think of boutique, luxury and lifestyle-brand hotels, we often focus on the unique personality of each property, its innovative, curated décor, or the way the hotel and staff truly connect with their guests and community. These factors play a key role in creating curiosity and brand loyalty, and go a long way in attracting the highly coveted, discerning, high-end guest.
But underneath the polish, luxury and lifestyle-brand, hotels are fighting for attention in a world where a finite number of guests have seemingly unlimited lodging choices, booking options and personal preferences. At the same time, overall brand loyalty and travel budgets seem to be dwindling.
Pivot Hotels and Resorts, a division of Davidson Hotels & Resorts, is tackling this challenge head-on with an ambitious campaign to become the most successful and fastest-growing luxury and lifestyle brand. Pivot is paving a new road for all others to follow with objectives that include attacking conventional problems using unconventional solutions, leveraging the latest technology, and being agile enough to move at the speed of a modern business.
A Unique and Creative Approach
Pivot has eight luxury properties across the United States. They include the artfully designed ‘The Fontaine – A Kansas City Hotel’ in Kansas City, Missouri, with an iconic rooftop pool and ‘Hotel Zephyr’ in San Francisco where staff leave personal notes for guests commemorating special occasions. The Pivot team has its sights set on opening five to seven new properties every year.
To accomplish its goals, the Pivot team looked to technology that could help them create cohesion among sales, marketing and revenue management teams. If they could streamline efforts designed to attract and retain guests, with efforts to properly price rooms at any given moment, Pivot managers knew they could gain a competitive advantage and maximize profits. This was especially important for their marketing efforts, which are crafted locally for each hotel and not driven by a chain brand.
“Small and independent hotels need a significant marketing game to get in front of guests and gain their attention,” said Patricia Davis, Pivot Hotel Group’s vice president of sales, marketing and revenue management. “The marketing for our true, independent properties organically springs from the offerings of the hotel and the communities which they occupy. Our job is to amplify each hotel’s message and build each hotel’s brand equity in the marketplace.”
Better Analytics Drive Better Revenue
Pivot started using a cloud-based, revenue management software package from IDeaS Revenue Solutions when the company launched. Since then, Pivot has rolled out the software to more properties as the company expands into new markets or reflags existing properties.
The initial goal of the software was to give revenue managers a tool to help with demand forecasting, as well as to create optimal pricing scenarios for any given room, at any specific date or time. They liked that IDeaS was able to tap into a greater range of data by leveraging advanced features like prescriptive analytics for forecasting. Prescriptive analytics leverage historical data points, but also support future data. This feature allows hotels to go beyond conventional, hotel-forecasting practices to understand optimal outcomes and the strategic decisions needed to achieve them.
According to Davis, this gives her staff confidence in the system. “I’m always encouraging my revenue directors to trust the IDeaS system. We have all the analytics working behind the scenes to help us not only get information, but to get insights that drive how we make our decisions.”
Greater Demand Visibility
Pivot Hotels & Resorts’ properties are often located in high-traffic locations, with many room types, high occupancies and few shoulder days. According to Davis, however, her teams rely on the advanced analytics in IDeaS’ revenue management tools to smooth out peaks and valleys in demand.
“The biggest lift we’ve been able to realize is through what IDeaS does best: making the shoulder days stronger,” said Davis. “In some properties like the Hotel Zephyr Fisherman’s Warf, there aren’t many shoulder days, but IDeaS helps us find them and manage our business for the best revenue opportunities.”
Davis’s team is also able to rely on IDeaS to provide accurate forecasting and reporting. “There’s a lot of agility in the platform, and you can get a lot of reporting from it,” she added. “It’s critical to our business that we have access to information easily and IDeaS fits us in this way. Our hotels have a high number of room types, in locations where room type really matters. We stand to gain a lot, using IDeaS, to understand how our rooms are being sold or bought and used by our customers.”
Instilling Guest Confidence With Rate Parity Across Channels
In hypercompetitive markets, Pivot is also winning the booking battle by publishing consistent rates across a growing number of booking channels. Combined with digital marketing initiatives, Pivot’s objective is to drive the most traffic to its lowest-cost booking channels: brand.com websites. Central to this strategy is also the resulting trust that guests have when researching rates at Pivot properties.
“IDeaS is very helpful in getting the best pricing decisions from point A to point B with its rate publishing tool,” said Davis. “Trust is part of our brand, and our customers can trust what they see on our website will be the same rate they see on Expedia or Booking.com.”
Even with rate parity across channels, Pivot is able to incentivize guests to book on brand.com websites with digital marketing and promotions. The resulting guest loyalty, customer lifetime value and higher revenue is favorable among company stakeholders.
As part of its vision to support “performance from a new perspective,” Pivot recognizes the importance of creating a rock-solid company culture built on trust and collaboration. The company relies on IDeaS to position revenue managers as strategic decision-makers within each of their organizations. With the ease-of-use and advanced SAS® analytics, Davis feels IDeaS’ solutions provide the tools necessary to create strategic thinkers who can help others within the organization achieve success.
“I’ve seen the revenue management role shift from a minor, tactical player to sometimes the most important player in the hotel. It’s such a critical role. Our revenue directors are often the ones aggregating reports and distilling information into a strategy for the sales and marketing team,” she said.
Technology, Davis says, is behind this seismic shift and is helping build a revenue management culture throughout the Pivot organization. With the support of the IDeaS team and the power of the software, Pivot knows it has found a winning combination. “I tell them to trust the decisions from IDeaS’ tools, and you’ll have a great outcome in the end.”