The background to Aura Accommodation
A few years ago, a business partner and I were looking at all sorts of opportunities, where we could apply out skill sets and add value to an existing business. We didn’t have any specific drive to do one thing or the other, but accommodation was an industry we felt we could do this. We looked into the industry, particularly the smaller independent places such as motels, and we just really felt that there was a lot of potential because they were a bit behind with everything that they were doing – from the experiences they were delivering, the systems supporting them and the clear lack of environmental practices. So, that’s how we came to accommodation as a real opportunity for us to do things a little bit differently. That was 4 years ago, when we purchased an older, run down property called the Havana Motel Lodge right in the middle of Rotorua. After 5 months of all kinds of work we launched Aura accommodation in December, 2016.
What was the problem?
We quickly realized, right after we started with Aura Accommodation, that most of the accommodation around us were setting seasonal rates and that was pretty much it. But for me that did not make any sense. It did not make sense to be sold out months in advance, or even to have 50% of occupancy a couple of months in advance; for me it makes more sense to sell the last room on the last day in order to maximise the rate of each room. So we were looking at how to actually achieve that by actively adjusting our pricing to maximise our revenue.
Initially, we were basically looking into all sorts of reports and historical data and changing our pricing based on this. It was very time consuming. After a while, we started looking into other options, knowing that there must be an automated solution out there. For us an important part in that stage was the integration matter, we wanted an integrated, automated solution.
Pricing was a very manual process. If you are not doing it in time, you’ve missed out on all sorts of opportunities. Also, you’re making decisions based on the reporting you have available and you are still behind the game. Basically, a lot of our pricing was based on historical data – did we sell out dates, did we miss any public holidays, what were the dates we could have done better with? But this year is a great example that you cannot rely on historical data and that we needed an algorithm that could do all these kind of things for you much more dynamically than that.
Looking into solutions
I looked at a whole range of different tools. I’m using SiteMinder’s channel manager and they have an app store, where I discovered RoomPriceGenie. RoomPriceGenie was not the only revenue management solution available on that market store, but what drove me towards RoomPriceGenie was the simplicity that they were solving the problem. For me, that is really important because you can pull reporting from everywhere and they can give you all sorts of interesting things about your rooms and pricing but things can quickly become quite overly complicated. Instead, RoomPriceGenie is a highly effective solution that is intuitive and simple to understand and implement. That was really a key for our decision.
“I have more time now”
I have more time now. I logged on today for the first time in a week, and yet I knew that over the course of the last week, my pricing was moving accurately and effectively with what was happening in the market. You know that if you want to do good revenue management you need to be on it every single day, so of course, now there is so much time saved by knowing that is happening in the background for me with RoomPriceGenie.
What’s your favourite feature in RoomPriceGenie?
There is nothing really that jumps out or that is more important than the other. Everything collectively works towards good results, and has a one good balance. But from my previous experience, I know that my best nights are Saturday nights, so the possibility to increase my Saturdays by 15% is a wonderful feature because it is really important to be able to make those adjustments not only based on a certain season or month but to boil those down to day-of-the-week. Understanding those patterns and ensuring I’ve set some simple parameters around those trends is really important to maximise those room rates.
And the financial results?
So, as you know it is really difficult [with Covid-19] to pull any comparisons that are valid and relevant this year but for us what was really amazing was the last school holidays in July. At the time, New Zealand had eliminated the virus and did not have any restrictions in place (other than the border restrictions). The period of school holidays this year with RoomPriceGenie controlling our pricing generated more revenue than the entire of July last year.
RoomPriceGenie accurately picked up on the demand trends and subsequently increased our average daily rate significantly throughout that period, resulting in a 20% growth in rates and ensuring we maximised our occupancy by selling 342 of 345 room nights. We couldn’t have been happier to see these results in what has been a really challenging year.
What would you say to other smaller hotels considering RoompriceGenie?
Go for it! You won’t regret it.