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January 15, 2024

The RoomPriceGenie Story: An Interview with Ari Andricopoulos, CEO of RoomPriceGenie

Join CEO Ari Andricopoulos as he shares the RoomPriceGenie origin story and evolution through this interesting interview.

The RoomPriceGenie Story - An Interview with Ari Andricopoulos, CEO of RoomPriceGenie

As a marketer who has worked with RMS vendors for more than 16 years, I am always excited and interested in discovering a revenue management solution that is different from the rest. My interview today is with Ari Andricopoulos, CEO of RoomPriceGenie, an automated pricing solution with a distinct value proposition for smaller, independent properties. So, without any further ado, let’s get started…

 

Jenn: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me today, Ari. I know many hotels will be interested in learning more about RoomPriceGenie’s origin story and what makes the solution stand out amongst the other revenue management solutions in the industry.

Ari: You’re welcome. Happy to be here!

Jenn: What were you doing, work-wise, before you started RoomPriceGenie? What catalyst made you realise there was a need for the solution in the hospitality industry?

Ari: I did a PhD in financial mathematics, and after graduating, I spent 15 years making trading algorithms for hedge funds. Creating technology for the hospitality industry was the last thing on my mind until I saw how my dad’s hotel (an independent 15-room property in the Isle of Wight) struggled to secure bookings. Because of my understanding of trading and building algorithms, I could see that there should be ways that his property could better compete with others in the destination.

At first, I looked around to see if I could find another product that would meet his needs, but I couldn’t find anything. I went on Facebook and asked if anyone knew any hotel owners I could talk to about the issue. By starting conversations with hoteliers to understand better what they were doing to address the need, I discovered the (former) reality of the hotel revenue management industry: there were RM solutions already available to larger properties, but they were much too complex for my father to use. In addition, most of the existing RMS cost way too much for a small property, like my dad’s, to afford.

Seeing his struggle and wanting him to be as successful as possible, I knew that I could apply my skillsets and experience in developing trading algorithms to pricing room rates more effectively, and that’s where the idea for RoomPriceGenie was born…

Jenn: How did you create the first version of the solution?

Ari: I started by examining the property data that my dad’s hotel had access to. I knew that if I were to create a system to address my dad’s property, I wouldn’t use the same type of algorithmic modeling that traditional RMS used because they use a vast amount of a property’s internal data (historical pricing) to establish suggested pricing and would require users to be able to fix the data if it is misleading. I knew he couldn’t do that.

So, I had to think about what other data options could be used by properties who didn’t have sufficient historical data; that’s when I realised that competition data was the perfect solution. If I created an algorithm that would analyse a property’s position (based on their room rates) versus the competition, based on supply and demand, then it would be an easy way for hoteliers – like my dad – to understand how they should update their rates to maximise bookings and revenue.

For example, if my dad needed to boost his occupancy and there was average demand, he would have to decrease his prices (compared to the competition) to earn more bookings; however, if demand was particularly high and he already had a higher occupancy rate for the period, my dad should charge more for his rooms. In the end, that (supply and demand) was the basis for the initial prototype of RoomPriceGenie.

 

Jenn: What did the process for developing the solution look like (how long it took to develop, did you do it alone or with partners, etc.)? How did initial users’ experiences and feedback shape the development of the solution?

 

Ari: It didn’t take long to develop the first version of the algorithm, but getting it live and at a point where it was providing real value to hotels, took about a year and a half total. Before we signed our first clients, we offered the solution (at no cost) to different properties to provide feedback on improvements that could be made. At this point, I was listening to what revenue managers’ key problems were and then trying to synthesise all these pain points into the solution’s development. In the beginning, the solution wasn’t integrated with any other hotel solutions (i.e. PMS, CRS, etc.), so the performance was limited, but it was beneficial to get support and recommendations from expert revenue managers, such as Gianluca Marongiu from Swiss Hospitality Solutions, and Scott Dahl, a professor of revenue management at the EHL Hospitality Business School in Lausanne. 

I also worked very hard to design the solution intuitively, even for users who weren’t already trained in revenue management. I asked myself: “If I had no idea about revenue management, what would make sense? What would make sense to my dad?” Initially, that’s how I worked to differentiate RoomPriceGenie from other revenue management solutions; I took the basic principles of revenue management and transformed them into a more intuitive version that anyone, no matter their level of tech-savvy, could understand and use easily.

Jenn: How and why did you decide to target the niche market of smaller properties and B&Bs, versus taking the mass appeal route that many other RMS take?

Ari: As I mentioned earlier, I could see that there were revenue management systems available for experts, and there’s no one looking at providing pricing solutions to non-experts, like my dad. Since the rest of the industry was targeting revenue managers, I could see that gap in the market and knew that RoomPriceGenie could fill it.

For a non-expert, like my dad, I knew that using an automated pricing solution would make such a HUGE difference to their business and to their life, so even though it would be difficult, I knew that I had to build the solution. The most critical and challenging part of the solution’s development was to ensure that it was able to offer robust pricing automatically, without needing the hoteliers to supervise the pricing, as I knew that they wouldn’t have the expertise to ensure the rates accurately reflected current market dynamics (as revenue management professionals could). For non-experts, it was very important that they could trust the solution and its pricing recommendations, so we focused on making sure that our solution could run 100% on autopilot and still ensure optimal results.

Jenn: How has the product evolved since the beginning?

Ari: The product’s second (and more recent) evolution was to make it flexible and helpful for more advanced users, like revenue managers. Today, the design offers functionality that makes RoomPriceGenie useful for much larger hotels (we now have quite a few hotels with more than 150 rooms), reducing our focus on small, independent properties. The new version of the solution appeals to the experts as well because we now offer control over the algorithm for those who are looking to implement a more sophisticated, hands-on revenue management strategy.

The design has also evolved a great deal since the beginning, when I created it myself; today, it’s much slicker and offers a better UX than the initial prototype, making it even more intuitive.

Overall, there are so many ways that the solution has improved since the initial prototype because we have always been looking for ways to improve our pricing; whenever a client has a problem or a suggestion, we take that into consideration and use it to improve the solution for every user, no matter the type or size of their hotel. RoomPriceGenie just keeps getting better all the time and I’m really proud of the solution we’re offering to our current and future clients.
 

Jenn: Today, what are the top three USPs of RoomPriceGenie’s solution?

Ari: The three top USPs of RoomPriceGenie are the basics that we built the solution on:

  •  The simplicity and usability of the solution
  •  The high-quality pricing suggestions that the solution offers: Offering really good quality pricing is very difficult as it involves a great deal of understanding and analysis of the data and the desire to improve upon your data analysis capabilities continually – and that’s where RoomPriceGenie stands out from the competition (especially when you compare our solution to other systems that are designed for smaller hotels).
  •  Our customer support: We’ve heard it repeatedly; our clients are very loyal because they enjoy the experience of working with our team, from implementation onwards. We are a very customer-focused company, and the level of support we offer has helped our customers earn greater ROI from the solution than they ever thought possible.

Jenn: Where do you see the product (and the company) evolving in the future?

Ari: Our future goals are to continue making the solution simpler to use, to offer better and more functionality, and to ensure that our pricing continues to be as high-quality as possible, no matter how the market evolves. That’s our raison d’être, and we can give our clients the most ROI possible on an ongoing basis because of that very singular focus.

Jenn: Thanks so much for your time, Ari. Learning about your experience and how it inspired you to create RoomPriceGenie has been very interesting. One final question: Is your dad still a RoomPriceGenie user?

Ari: Haha, he is! He was one of the first of more than 1,600 hotels worldwide currently using RoomPriceGenie to maximise their bookings and revenue. The solution has transformed his business and even interested him in pricing at 83 years old. My question to other hoteliers not yet using an RMS would be: “If an 83-year-old can do it, why couldn’t (and why shouldn’t) you?”

 

To experience how RoomPriceGenie can boost your property’s bookings and maximise your profitability for free, start your risk-free, 14-day trial of our automated pricing solution today at roompricegenie.com.

Want to learn more about how RoomPriceGenie can help you?
Book a demo and learn how hoteliers like you are using RoomPriceGenie to drive revenue through better pricing.
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