Samana Business Group is an international investment group based in Kerala, India, which focuses on a broad variety of projects including healthcare, information technology and hospitality. Currently, Samana Business Group’s Dimora Hospitality Services are successfully operating several 4-star-plus business hotels in India and Saudi Arabia and have further properties in the pipeline for India, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Oman.
In a recent conversation with Vipin Vasudevan, Corporate Revenue Manager with Samana Business Group, we found out how using the Rate Insight business intelligence (BI) tool helped him successfully implement dynamic rates, save time on market research and significantly boost his hotels’ results.
"In Riyadh, we saw a 1,926% increase in revenue from OTA bookings in the first six months of using Rate Insight and applying dynamic rates. Overall, we saw a whopping 300% increase in revenue which of course increased our GOP as well."
When I started with Samana Group about six months ago, our Riyadh property was struggling despite its convenient location and the owners were considering shutting it down. Our hotel in downtown Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, on the other hand, was doing well overall but got only 10% of its bookings from OTAs, a figure we wanted to increase since OTAs had become the preferred channel for many business travellers. In short, we saw room for improvement at both properties, but despite our efforts, our results were limited.
Being stationed at our headquarters in India made it challenging to keep an overview of Riyadh’s highly dynamic market, accurately forecast demand and adjust our rates appropriately. Since Rate Insight had been very helpful in my previous job, I decided to give it a try at the Riyadh and Kerala properties as well.
My goals for using Rate Insight were to better understand the market, make more data-driven pricing and distribution decisions and to refine my overall revenue management strategy so we could achieve our targets.
Before we started using Rate Insight, we did not have a business intelligence tool. This made it hard for us to stay up to date on Riyadh’s dynamic market. To monitor ongoing developments, I spent 3-4 hours a day manually researching our competitors and adjusting our rates based on the data I collected. Despite this, our competition attracted guests with better rates. Since we did not get the complete picture, as we do now with Rate Insight, we also couldn’t properly plan our rates for the future and were always playing catch-up with the market.
Now that we can quickly check the demand calendar for the next 30, 60, 90 and even 365 days in the future, we get reliable information on upcoming developments and how our competition is reacting to them. This helps us adjust our pricing strategy for the long term, ensure we are getting our fair share of the market and shows us opportunities to yield to gain extra business.
I also use Rate Insight to share what I have learned about our markets with the hotels’ general managers and our CEO. Now, if they have questions about my decisions or shifts in the market, I can offer them a straightforward explanation supported by the clear visuals on Rate Insight’s dashboard.
"Rate Insight’s data helps us adjust our pricing strategy for the long term, ensure we are getting our fair share of the market and it shows us opportunities to yield to gain extra business."
Since we previously did not have access to live data that would allow us to keep our hotels in line with the market and we did not apply dynamic pricing, our properties suffered from low visibility on online sales channels because we often outpriced ourselves. This led to many rooms going unsold and us closing lower than we should have given the overall demand in the market.
Getting access to Rate Insight’s live market information has made a world of a difference, especially at our Riyadh property. Being able to see current demand shifts and up-to-date competitor information at the click of a button finally allows us to make confident dynamic pricing decisions and improve our position in the market. Now, it is much easier for us to see important changes and react in a way that boosts online pick-up, thus improving RevPAR.
Implementing Rate Insight marked the turning point for our group. In Riyadh, we saw a 1,926% increase in revenue from OTA bookings in the first six months of using Rate Insight and applying dynamic rates. Overall, we saw a whopping 300% increase in revenue.
Other KPIs including our ADR and RevPAR have significantly increased at this property as well. Now we can easily compete with bigger players in the market and attract guests we previously couldn’t reach. Given these results, the hotel owners have re-evaluated their idea of shutting down the property and are now very hopeful about its future.
Our Kerala property also showed impressive results since we implemented Rate Insight, such as a $71 lift in ADR, an increase in RevPAR and a surge in demand for the hotel.
"Our Kerala property also showed impressive results since we implemented Rate Insight, such as a $71 lift in ADR, a strong increase in RevPAR and a significant surge in demand for the hotel."
Since I spent between 3-4 hours on manual market research every day, I had less time to focus on rate strategy and the bigger picture. Rate Insight solves this problem for us by offering live market data in just a few seconds.
This gives us back a lot of time which we use to update our rates as often as necessary and to find other ways to boost the guest experience and our revenue. For example, we’ve begun working on improving our review scores, generating more online reviews to improve visibility and using upselling to increase our guests’ average spend.
Our goal now is to implement more innovative tools like a new RMS and PMS to help our hotels become the number one property in their respective markets. Once we’ve found the set-up that works best for us, we plan on implementing it at our upcoming properties from the very beginning.
We check Rate Insight’s parity tab regularly, so we can take corrective action if necessary. Previously this took us much longer since it was more difficult to find rate disparity cases. Now, within a few clicks, we can see the issues and update the channels in question immediately.
From the very beginning, OTA Insight’s customer support has been very supportive and always took initiative when it came to training, follow-up and overall customer care. They patiently answered all my questions and always provided the assistance we needed quickly and professionally. This helped me make the most of this tool from the first day we started using it and is probably also a reason for the great results we have achieved since its implementation.
I would definitely recommend Rate Insight to other revenue managers and am currently working on implementing it at our other two properties. After having achieved such great results with this tool, I think every revenue professional should at least have a look at it since there is room for improvement at almost every property and Rate Insight can help you save the time you need to make those positive changes.