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I love revenue management, especially during events. They are what separate the professionals from the amateurs, the men from the boys.

With most STR results, amateur revenue managers can hide their failures behind a strong corporate base, groups, or even brand presence. With a high demand event, there are no excuses. The revenue manager should be held almost solely accountable for event performance. They should reap the benefits of positive results and suffer the consequences of negative results. Event management is not easy. It takes an intense mix of data analysis, experience, intuition, the right reporting and preparation. I’m going to share with you some key items you need to accomplish in order to make sure you look like a revenue management rock star over your next event.

Recently, we had a big city-wide event in Dallas, TX. The NCAA National Football Championship took place on Monday evening, January 12. This brought a tremendous amount of demand on Monday night and strong demand on Sunday night. This event affected 4 of our hotels around Arlington,TX. Here are the results:

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1.    Close out low rated business – You want to drive as many BAR bookings as possible and minimize your ADR breakage. This means close (or increase the rate) employee, government, opaque, packaged, and any NLRA accounts. Confirm with your sales team what you can and cannot close.

2.    Raise rates– I like to compare similar events to get an idea of how to price the hotel. For example, we reviewed the April 2014 Final Four in Dallas to see how many BAR and internet bookings were captured and at what rate to get an idea of how to price the 2015 NCAA Championship. I tend to price the hotel higher than what I expect will pick up and slowly decrease the rates about 6 months out (depending on the event booking window) until I start to see some booking activity. This will ensure that no money has been left on the table.

3.    Don’t rely too heavily on your competitive set’s rates – Obviously, shop the comp set, but don’t rely too heavily on their strategies. Hotel A at $399 may be just as clueless as Hotel B priced at $89 in your comp set. Or Hotel A may have booked up completely with groups. More importantly, pay attention to what days surrounding the event customers are booking your hotel and at what rates.

4.    Keep third parties open! – This is probably the #1 reason why I beat the competition over events. The price sensitive, leisure event guests will shop around to compare rates and reviews – why would you ever want to hide your hotel from them? Also, if the majority of the market is heavily restricting third party sites, you will have unrivaled exposure – that means you can cast a much wider net than the competition and capture much higher rates. Yes, the 20% margin hurts, but you’ll be able to raise rates much higher to make up for it when third parties are available.

5.    Run Travel Ads – Don’t just keep third parties open, advertise on them! Make sure you get that number 1 spot with custom event messaging to increase conversion.

6.    Okay, enough with the third party talk. If you manage your own independent website, make sure you blog about the event and run pay per click campaigns to drive traffic to your website directly.

7.    Restrict by length of stay but don’t over do it – For the NCAA Championship, Sunday had high demand and Monday was the peak night but Fri-Sat and even Tuesday had their typical demand. I was able to put a 2 night los restriction on Monday night to balance out Sunday, but I was not able to capture as much revenue by forcing a Saturday night. The bookings stalled with these heavy restrictions in place.

8.    Track rate code production daily – You have to be the policeman over events. This means questioning your GM and Front Desk staff on every override. It’s a little bit like big brother, but it will ensure that your pricing strategy is actually being implemented. If the property thinks you are priced too high, use that information to reassess your strategy, but don’t allow overrides especially greater than 10% off.

9.    Modify your cancellation policy – I like to set a 7 day cancellation policy with a first night’s deposit over high demand events. This protects against guests leaving you for panicked competitors who drop rates last minute because they manage their events incorrectly. Most brands do not push the modified event cancellation policy to third parties so it’s up to you to contact them directly. You don’t want to have a stricter cancellation policy on your website and drive traffic to more costly channels.

10.    Get Operations on board – Make sure your front desk understands what the event is and what the revenue goals are. Offer incentives to them to convert guests and get a perfect sell – be creative. Also, with events, comes high rates. With high rates, comes guest complaints and bad reviews. When we are charging significantly more for events than we do for a typical night, we often provide gift bags and/or fun event related swag. These small gestures may ease some of the guests’ pain from paying the higher rates for the same product and may entice the guest to write a positive review or even come back.

Hopefully these 10 pieces of advice help you rock your next event. It’s a lot of work, but it’s all worth it when the STR results come. If you need help managing events or any other revenue / e-commerce strategies, please don’t hesitate to inquire with Kriya RevGEN at!