Customer Spotlight:

Boschendal Farm Estate

“Rate and Revenue Insight probably save me around a week’s worth of time every month by automating data collection and collation.”

Esteni Pitout | Revenue Manager at Boschendal Wine Estate

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About Boschendal Estate

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Boschendal wine estate is one of the oldest wine farms in South Africa. Here, guests can experience authentic yet luxurious farm living in a contemporary setting. A selection of cottages and villas is spread among the orchards, offering a private getaway in a stunning setting. Organic farm-to-table dining and Boschendal’s award-winning wines delight the palate. Beautiful gardens, idyllic picnic spots and adventurous mountain bike trails guarantee a memorable stay for everyone.


We had a chat with Esteni Pitout, Revenue Manager at Boschendal, to find out how she and her team use the Rate and Revenue Insight tools. She shared how these business intelligence (BI) solutions help save time, optimise rates, improve positioning and fine-tune Boschendal’s overall commercial approach.

 

Saving time on manual data collection

When I first came to Boschendal, my main mission was to build revenue management processes from the ground up. That included beginning to collect market and performance data since there were no reliable insights to base my pricing strategies and decisions on. 

Implementing Rate and Revenue Insight was one of the first things I did since there was no BI solution in place. Until then, all data collection and reporting were manual and cost me massive amounts of time. For example, Mondays were spent largely on gathering and compiling information to evaluate the previous week’s performance and the current outlook. 

Since OTA Insight’s tools went live at our property, I always have a live overview of both our compset’s pricing and our performance. That saves me about a week’s worth of time on data processing every month. As a result, I’ve been able to shift my focus from manual rate shops and creating spreadsheets to analysing the market, monitoring the competition and examining our internal data. I’ve also had more time to develop standards and procedures for our revenue department. 

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"A top-notch BI tool is an important contributor to success, especially for one-person revenue departments."

Optimal positioning through reliable data and market overviews

Compared to downtown Cape Town or Johannesburg, our market is not nearly as dynamic. We have distinctive seasons which are the strongest guiding factors for our pricing. That meant it was hard to justify investing in an RMS since it would have been overkill for our property. OTA Insight’s tools proved to be the most suitable option for us because they automatically provide the live internal, competition and market data we need to make smart pricing decisions

In a few clicks I can see my performance by room type, guest segment or source market. Since we have immediate access to this live data, I have more time to strategise with the team on how to make the most of new trends and optimise our results. 

The live compset and market overviews are also immensely helpful. I always know how we’re positioned without having to manually check multiple distribution channels. The benchmarking option allows me to get even more granular here. I can compare our performance with the compset and see how we rank for various factors such as occupancy or rate. This shows where we have opportunities to improve, and it makes it easy to justify the strategy shifts that will optimise our positioning.

Better understanding of booking trends and lead times

Unfortunately, our PMS reports are not user-friendly and don’t present data in a way that’s easy to read or edit. In the past, that meant I had to go through our bookings manually to see pick-up, where guests were from and how long they were staying. That information alone supported my inkling about our booking trends and top source markets with data. Revenue Insight did away with all that because it offers all this information live on the dashboard. Now I pull that up during board meetings instead of having to create my own reports

Having this detailed overview of our incoming bookings and on-the-books business also helps me yield and pick the ideal time for promotions. Seeing our pace several months out allows me to do two things. First, I can avoid diluting our results during periods with strong pick-up. Second, I’m able to adjust our rates or create special offers for slow dates. Then, as the booking window shortens, I can bring the higher rates back in. Revenue Insight’s data allows me to do this even though lead times have shifted considerably during and after the pandemic. 

I can apply a similar approach to our various room types. For example, Revenue Insight revealed how popular our cottages had recently become among local guests. Once we realised this, we used this knowledge to optimise our rates for that product to avoid losing revenue on unnecessary discounts. 

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"Revenue Insight’s data allows me to yield effectively even though lead times have shifted considerably during and after the pandemic."

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An efficient way to manage rate disparity

In the past, I had to check each channel manually to find rate disparity cases. That took a lot of time and being alone in my department, it was hard to always stay on top of it. This resulted in lost revenue because some discrepancies would go unnoticed until my next parity check. 

Rate Insight makes my life a lot easier in this regard. Now it takes me only two minutes to check and compare my prices across OTAs as well as other resellers. The parity tab lets me verify if all my restrictions are applied correctly everywhere. If I spot an issue, I can fix it immediately and avoid losing out on revenue. This is especially beneficial during high-demand periods when we want to avoid unauthorised discounting by third parties at all costs.

 

Improved collaboration among all commercial departments

Revenue Insight has become an important tool for several departments at Boschendal. First, the GM logs on every day to track our results. She also uses screenshots from Revenue Insight when she compiles the weekly performance overview for the board. 

The sales and marketing teams use the BI solution to see how various markets and guest segments are doing compared to previous months or years. This shows where there’s room for improvement in only a few clicks. Consequently, our commercial teams can immediately react with sales calls or targeted marketing campaigns. Since we all have access to this information, it’s also easier to discuss our strategies and ensure we’re all on the same page. 

Finally, Revenue Insight saves the sales team a lot of time on reporting. In the past, they had to pull data from the PMS and do a lot of tedious formatting. Today, they can summarise their results in minutes because the BI tool makes all data easily accessible.

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Boschendal_Farm_Estate

"Revenue Insight’s data allows me to yield effectively even though lead times have shifted considerably during and after the pandemic."

A flat learning curve and excellent data accessibility

Traditionally, all business intelligence sits with the person collecting the data and compiling the reports. If they leave, they take their knowledge of the market and the hotel with them. It takes time for new staff to regain this knowledge and opportunities are often missed during this transition. Rate and Revenue Insight eliminate this risk because they make data on the hotel’s performance and positioning accessible to everyone. The systems are so easy to use, that new staff can hit the ground running and get the most out of them from day one.

A word to your peers

Unless you have a PMS that gathers and displays all your data in an easy-to-read format, you’re probably losing time putting together spreadsheet reports. As a result, you’re missing out on revenue opportunities. 

BI tools like Rate and Revenue Insight solve this problem because they provide live data in an interactive format at the click of a button. That creates new opportunities to learn about your guest segments, source markets and competitors in real time. I think revenue managers should take advantage of that, so they can make better decisions faster and ensure they’re always ideally positioned and offering the optimal rate. A top-notch BI tool is an important contributor to success, especially for one-person revenue departments. 

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