WHILE CONSUMERS AND third-party vendors might be going gaga over guest-facing voice technology, other companies are exploring how to use voice to streamline hotel operations and make owners more money.
One company has recently integrated voice into its revenue management programs. IDeaS Revenue Solutions in March launched the first voice-based interface designed for a revenue management platform.
IDeaS G3 Revenue Management System is compatible with devices such as Amazon’s Echo and Google Home.
Hotel managers and employees can access real-time data and performance metrics through smart speakers. The program is accessible anywhere the user has a device and internet access.
Imagine walking into your hotel office each morning and asking, “Alexa, what are my occupancy rate and competitor rates today?” And getting an answer.
While IDeaS, a subsidiary of SAS, has been creating solutions for revenue management for nearly 30 years, the addition of voice is just one way the company “increases the ability of our clients to profit,” said Ravi Mehrotra, founder and president of the company. “We want to optimize hotels’ operations and make sure the information we are giving them is something they can’t do themselves.”
Klaus Kohlmayr, IDeaS chief evangelist (his actual title), said IDeaS “has been on a journey to make revenue management as accessible as possible. Voice is a natural evolution of our philosophy of making something that is complex easy to use.”
David Berger, CEO of Volara, who worked with Amazon for two years toward its launch of Alexa for Hospitality in June, called the deployment of voice in hospitality a “tectonic shift” in hotel communications in both the guest room and back-office operations.
An article Berger wrote in July for Phocuswright, said voice technology will increase in use and value as it is integrated more and more with the hotel technology stack. It will “reduce the friction” in the hotel technology ecosystem as managers and employees access the systems and “engage in a new and enjoyable way.”
IDeaS pioneered revenue management science, said Mike Chuma, the company’s vice president of marketing, enablement and engagement. IDeaS has clients all over the world across all chain scale segments. It works with major hotel companies, management firms, REITs and independent hotel owners. It supports systems in large full-service hotels to small limited-service properties.
The company’s cloud-based software programs and applications do not require voice to work. “Voice is just a way to interact,” Chuma said. “We are continually trying to find ways to innovate and make revenue management simple for all hotels.”
IDeaS voice-based technology can interface with hotels’ legacy platforms and tools. Owners who cannot afford to employ a specialized revenue manager can depend on the technology to make intelligent and more impactful pricing decisions. “If the shuttle driver does not show up for work, the general manager can take over knowing the system is doing its job,” said Mehrotra.
Mehrotra said the beauty of IDeaS’s products for property management is the process is automatic. Most importantly, its revenue management system removes the guesswork and emotion from making pricing decisions.
“Let the science and the data do their jobs,” Kohlmayr said. He talked about an hotelier who at first did not fully trust the RM system to handle pricing. “When he stepped back and let the system do its job, the hotel ended up making $150,000 more in eight weeks.”
While IDeaS likes to tout its G3 Revenue Management System as all-knowing, Chuma noted that owners can still make their own decisions. “The ones who regularly interact with our RMS and pay attention might not agree with a price.” He tells about a customer who knew the market demand well enough to confidently increase the price on Mondays and Tuesdays. Once the data was part of the system, his overall revenue significantly increased.
Still, when hoteliers take pricing matters into their own hands, they risk leaving money on the table. “If you go back 20 to 25 years, pricing for hotels was simple,” said Kohlmayr. “You did not have to worry about changing prices, maybe weekends versus weekdays. But today you have to be on the ball every minute of every day or you will be out-priced by your competition.”
He said IDeaS research shows a hotel is faced with an average 3 million pricing decisions in 24 hours. “There are millions and millions of data points. The new generation of owners understand that. There is no longer a person who can do that, it requires a system.”
Mehrotra said, technology, including voice, “is changing the culture of people working and trusting their guts.”
“When you cooperate with technology, even the small things make a difference, and you will run your business in a more consistent manner. Customers will see that and start to trust you more.”