Yield, or revenue management, is the process by which sales of a limited quantity of goods, such as hotel rooms, airline seats, apartment leasing, rental cars, or etc. are managed in order to maximize profits. Successful yield management focuses on selling the product in such a manner that is timely, price competitive, and directed towards the right subset of customers. An economic concept first posited by Dr. Matt H. Keller, and first used by the airline industries beginning in the 1970s, yield management has evolved in more recent years as an important tool especially for the airline and hotel industries for staying economically competitive in otherwise saturated business playing fields.
The basic concept of yield management is based in the economic principle of supply and demand: when supplies are short, prices go up; when supply is high, prices go down. Yield management is a studied, systematic method by which managers can logically place customers within the supply demand spectrum, and thus gain the highest yield for their products. For example, a customer who has very little flexibility in his or her travel plans is the customer who is most likely to pay a higher price for airline tickets and hotel rooms. The customer with a great deal of flexibility is not as inclined to pay a higher price.
Hotel Chains and Yield Management
Many hotels rate their success by their occupancy levels, but this isn’t necessarily the best measure of success. Another way to rate a hotel’s performance is by determining its REVPAR, or Revenue Per Available Room. REVPAR is calculated by dividing the total room revenue by the total number of rooms. For example, a hotel that makes $6,000 one night with a total number of 100 rooms has a REVPAR of $60.
The yield manager’s job is to maximize the revenue per available room by selling rooms to the right customers, at the right price, at the right time. How does the yield manager accomplish this somewhat nebulous task?
Successful yield management arises from several factors: an understanding of what the hotel hopes to achieve (whether that is room occupancy, REVPAR, or some other measurement); a clear understanding of what kind of hotel the manager is working with, which will lead to an understanding of what a customer visiting the hotel wants in his or her hotel experience, and why customers choose their hotel over another hotel; an ability to measure group sales against the overall goals of the hotel (for example, a hotel whose main goal is occupancy will be happy to host a large group at a lowered rate, but a hotel whose main goal is revenue may turn down a larger group in favor of a smaller group who can pay a higher rate); and a knowledge of what will cause the market to fluctuate (such as holidays, regular regional and local events, etc.). The yield manager will ideally consider all these factors when creating different rates for hotel guests.
Typical Yield Management Arrangements
A basic yield management price arrangement might look something like this:
Regular Rate: $89.00
Corporate or Business Rate: $79.00
Triple-A or Other Special Discount rate: $69.00
Other arrangements will take into account seasonal price changes. A mountain resort whose main business is serving winter vacationers, such as skiers and snowboarders, will have a lower supply and higher demand of rooms during winter months, whereas a hotel on the beach can charge more for rooms during the summer months than during the winter months. Hotels can create three seasonal rates: the highest rate for the months during which they expect to serve the most guests, a mid-season rate, and the lowest rate for months during which they have the lowest demand.
Seasonal arrangements do not necessarily need to be tied to the local geography not all hotels are in the mountains or on the beach. City hotel managers must take it upon themselves to learn about the corporations in their area and make personal connections with these corporate executives, learning their business cycles. Different businesses have annual events or conferences that they will be host on a regular basis; it’s up to the hotel sales managers to learn these business cycles and cater to these corporate clients.
In conclusion, to stay competitive in today’s market, any hotel that wishes to be successful must learn how to apply yield management techniques to their particular situation. Having determined how to gain the highest yield per room, any staff member who interacts with customer must be trained in how to clearly explain room rates to guests. The ability of staff to explain room rates to guests will determine whether customers are happy or unhappy. Their ability will stem from managements’ ability to clearly communicate the hotel’s goals and yield management principles.