Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International
Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International
Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International
Keeping Up With Revenue Management Trends – Prepare Your Strategy for What’s Next!

A look at what trends will continue or emerge in revenue management in 2013. 

By Susan Spencer, Market Director – North America, ChannelRUSH and HSMAI Advisory Board Member

It seems like just yesterday we were looking at 2011 and predicting what would happen in 2012. Now here we are at the very near close of 2012 looking at what trends will continue or emerge in revenue management in 2013. 

Sometimes we have to look back to look forward. Let’s go back to the beginning of the year (January 1, 2012) to take a look at what was predicted and what actually transpired…and what we can expect for 2013.

Average Rate

Average rate increased 4.3% in 2011. It was expected to keep climbing in 2012.

The prediction was technically correct, but the reality is that rate grew slightly as opposed to “climbed.” As of early December 2012, the industry is expected to record a 2.1% increase in occupancy and an average-daily-rate (ADR) gain of 4.4% by end of year. Occupancy for 2012 is predicted to finish at 61.2% with ADR of $106.15.

For 2013, STR forecasts occupancy to remain the same with a minimal increase to 61.4% and ADR rising to $111.01. How will this experience and prediction play into your strategies?

Corporate Travel

This time last year corporate travel was predicted to increase. Corporate demand has indeed recovered. This, combined with the fact that North American supply remains limited and yield management continues to be effective, has resulted in rising occupancy and higher ADRs.

Based on Egencia’s 2013 Global Corporate Travel Forecast, hotel ADR for top corporate travel destinations will slightly up, by 3% in North America.  The report states that “there will be significant variation at individual market level as supply, demand and local economic conditions also play a part.”

How will this pressure drive leisure rates and inventory demands at your hotel?


A year ago, most hoteliers agreed that online travel agencies (OTAs) are a necessary component in the distribution tool kit. At the same time, it was predicted that international and smaller OTAs would start chipping away at the larger OTAs’ pieces of the pie.

Today the large four largest OTAs (Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline and Travelocity) remain strong while smaller OTAs continue to emerge. OTAs currently contribute about 8% of hotel bookings, according to Distribution Channel Analysis: A Guide for Hotels. This seems a relatively small number until you consider that OTAs actually represent 45-55% of all digital hotel bookings. The second statistic may explain the frequency with which the topic of OTAs continues to come up in conversation, in industry education, and in industry news.

Going forward, as always, in addition to having a solid strategy for positioning your hotel on an OTA, you must have a solid strategy in place to determine when, for whom, and at what rate the OTAs make financial sense for your property.

At the same time, consider the following from J.D. Power and Associates’ 2012 Independent Travel Website Satisfaction Report (published November 30, 2012): Pricing is the strongest driver of satisfaction with independent travel websites. "While other factors certainly affect overall satisfaction, 75 percent of online travel website consumers indicate price as a primary purchase reason, so there is no denying price greatly impacts the overall website experience." said Sara Wong Hilton, director at J.D. Power and Associates.

Search Engines

Search engines, led by Google Hotel Finder (GHF), were expected to push more into online travel.

Today, Google Hotel Finder search displays OTAs rates to the customer, reinforcing the importance of having and implementing an overall pricing strategy. The search engines’ move into online travel continues with the most recent news that Google Hotel Finder is now available on all global Google domains via the URL “/hotels”.

In the U.S. a GHF search box is featured on all search engine pages for destination hotel searches as well. This is certainly an area to watch.


Does this sound familiar? Intelligence reports, channel management, seamless PMS connectivity…Is it necessary and what is the ROI? A year ago, conversations about this abounded.

As predicted, most, if not all technology companies today interface with one another in some fashion. PMS, CRS, RMS, GDS, OTA, competitive rate shoppers and channel managers all interface allowing the revenue manager to review the different provider products, their pricing, service, and benefits of utilizing this type of connectivity as opposed to traditional manual efforts.

Expect the connectivity to continue to improve, and consider what options are available to maximize the systems you have in place.

Social Media

Is social media is a distribution channel or a marketing tool? Can anyone agree?  They certainly couldn’t last year, and the debate continues.

What we all can agree on for 2013 is the need to define your objectives. Know what you want out of social media and develop your strategy from there.  Decide whether you will focus on social media as a convertible and measurable distribution tool, as a marketing channel, as a customer service channel, or as a combination of those.

Regardless of your social media goals, with the complexity of the social media channel, it is very necessary to monitor reviews, comments and content across all channels because the indirect effects of negative media will result in lowering the conversion on the actual “distribution” channels.

Flash Sales

Last year the debate raged about when and how (or whether to) embrace flash sales for hotels.

As 2012 played out, we saw Hotwire close Travel-Ticker, and Groupon and LivingSocial are consolidating after reporting financial losses.

In 2013, as the economy continues to improve (keep your fingers crossed!) it will be interesting to watch the “daily deal” sites to see how and whether they continue.  For hotels that are seeing occupancy and rate growing steadily year over year, how would you work them into your overall revenue and marketing strategy?


Mobile is beyond phones. Corporate and leisure travelers alike are using tablets to research and book travel. Is your hotel website optimized for these devices? Is your hotel utilizing location optimization for your outlets (restaurant, bar, spa, golf, daily specials) to reach prospects ready to buy?

HSMAI’s Digital Marketing Council recently shared that “With the increase of tablet ownership and usage, mobile is moving beyond the original scope of mobile phones into broader territory. For hoteliers, mobile for tablets presents a different opportunity than mobile for Smart phones.”

They recommend that “While mobile phones are particularly relevant in the shop, book and experience phases, tablets are uniquely positioned to aid in the dreaming or desire to be inspired phase, as well as the learning phase. What this means…is that a tablet specific website should be considered because the consumer behavior varies so dramatically between the two mobile devices. Speed and ease of use are critical for the smart phone, but vivid photos are more essential for the mobile tablet.”

All of this will continue to impact how travelers book their travel, including booking travel at the last minute. The OTAs have embraced this trend combining last minute deals along with the ability to search all of their hotel offerings and book quicker and easier from mobile devices.

How will you segment and target your strategy and messaging for mobile devices?

Inbound International U.S. Travel

European travel into the U.S. was predicted to increase this year. As of November 30, 2012, according to the International Trade Administration at the U.S. Department of Commerce, “over 66 million international travelers are projected to visit the United States, an increase of 6 percent over 2011 visitor volume.”

We are certainly seeing strong results. Some brands are reporting strong demand from overseas visitors from Brazil, Russia, India, and China. As for Japanese travel, between January and June, Japanese heading abroad numbered 8.9 million, the highest since the 9.9million peak set 12 years ago.[i]

These trends, combined with the efforts of Brand USA to promote increased international travel to the United States, are predicted to result in a 3.6 to 4.3 percent average annual growth in travel and tourism over the next five years.

The Department of Commerce expects visitors to the U.S. from all world regions to grow at different rates over the next five years:

  • Asia at +64 percent
  • South America at +60 percent
  • Oceania at +41 percent
  • China at +259 percent
  • Brazil at +83 percent
  • Argentina at +67 percent
  • South Korea at +51 percent
  • India at +47 percent
  • Australia at +46 percent
  • Venezuela at +45 percent

How are you marketing to and pricing for these international markets?

I hope you’ll continue to learn more about the forecasts and trends that will impact us in 2013. Join us during HSMAI’s webinar on December 18th to learn from industry experts (STR, Starwood Capital Group, University of Houston, and PacRim Marketing/PR Tech) on valuable insights and strategies for 2013.

About the Author

Susan Spencer

As Market Director – North America for ChannelRUSH, Susan is responsible for spearheading growth and brand awareness for the technology distribution software company. She has over 20 years of hospitality industry sales and marketing experience in hotels, OTAs, car rental, and CVB’s. Prior to ChannelRUSH, Susan was Director of Product Development for and was responsible for increasing hotel net rate agreements in key markets for the company. She also worked for the Orlando Convention and Visitor’s Bureau as Sales Development Manager, uncovering new convention business for Orlando. During her tenure with the Hertz Corporation she introduced and implemented the convention meetings and contracting for Hertz’ meetings program nationwide. She also spent time in group sales for Marriott, Hilton, Sheraton, and Intercontinental in Florida, Michigan, and Virginia.  Susan is a graduate of Radford University where she earned a B.S. in Marketing. She is a member of HSMAI’s Revenue Management Advisory Board.

About the 2012 HSMAI Revenue Management Advisory Board

The Revenue Management Advisory Board leverages insights, emerging trends, and industry innovations to guide the development of products and programs that optimize revenue for hotels.

Members include:

  • Co-Chair: Jon Eliot, CRME, CHA, Vice President of Revenue Management, Premier Hospitality Management
  • Co-Chair: Sloan Dean, CRME, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Interstate Hotels & Resorts
  • Immediate Past Chair: Scott Roby, CRME, Vice President, Revenue Management, Evolution Hospitality
  • Chris K. Anderson, Ph.D., Professor, Cornell University
  • Bonnie Buckhiester, President & CEO, Buckhiester Management USA Inc.
  • Sheila Cosgrove, Director, Revenue Management Ops & Planning, Intercontinental Hotels Group
  • Kathleen Cullen, CRME, Vice President Revenue Strategies, Heritage Hotels and Resorts
  • Kent Duncan, CRME, Vice President, Sales & Revenue Strategy, Marcus Hotels & Resorts
  • Tammy Farley, Principal, The Rainmaker Group
  • Neal Fegan, CRME, Executive Director of Revenue Management, Fairmont Raffles Hotels International
  • Rhett Hirko, CRME, Director of Revenue Analytics, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts International Operations
  • Jay Hubbs, Vice President, Regional Sales, ReviewPro
  • Burl Hutchison, CRME, Director of Revenue & System Optimization, Sabre Hospitality
  • Klaus Kohlmayr, Senior Director, Consulting, IDeaS - A SAS Company
  • Mark Molinari, CRME, Corporate Vice President of Revenue Management and Distribution, Las Vegas Sands
  • Orly Ripmaster, CRME, Senior Associate, KSL Capital Partners
  • Mark Robertson, Central Director Revenue Management, Wyndham Hotel Group
  • Susan Spencer, Market Director - N. America, ChannelRUSH
  • Trevor Stuart-Hill, CRME, President, Revenue Matters
  • Paul Wood, CRME, CHBA, Vice President of Revenue Management, Greenwood Hospitality Group

Want to Learn More?

This topic will be addressed as part of the 10-part 2012 Revenue Management Webinar Series produced by the HSMAI University in partnership with HotelNewsNow and STR. Each month a webinar covers one aspect of cutting edge revenue management in today's economy in conjunction with articles written by members of the HSMAI Revenue Management Advisory Board. If you’re not able to attend a live program, archives are available.

[i] Mangiboyat, Adrian (Edo). “2012 Japanese Outbound Travel on Course to Break All Time Record.” Web. December 13, 2012.

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