The opulent Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel is located in the heart of Shanghai's Pudong district and is an homage to China's millennia of art and culture with feng-shui interiors and Michelin-starred cuisine. Perfectly placed for business and leisure, it is located directly opposite the Shanghai New International Expo Centre, close to the green expanse of Century Park and a short journey from Pudong Airport. Jumeirah is an acclaimed luxury hospitality leader - operating 24 Jumeirah branded properties in eight countries, renowned for its flagship hotel, and global icon, Burj Al Arab.
We recently got in touch with Else Urpelainen, Director of Revenue Management at Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel, who is in charge of all day to day revenue management operations, as well as room reservations and banqueting revenue. Else has been using Rate Insight for three years. In this interview, we discovered how Rate Insight has facilitated better communication with the Executive Committee, improved time efficiency and assisted in pivoting strategy during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Rate Insight has enabled me to show fellow commercial teams more detailed information in terms of our pricing strategy and that of our competitors.”
We are primarily an exhibition hotel. Therefore, our customer base is mainly visitors to the Expo centre, but we do work with a variety of market segments. Naturally we get lots of groups and have large event facilities at the hotel. Prior to 2020, we had a huge segment coming from international markets. We also had a lot of international and domestic corporate travellers, and domestic travel agent business.
Changing to Rate Insight was a decision from the hotel group. Before moving to Rate Insight, the biggest challenge with our previous tool was accurate price shopping, which is where Rate Insight stands out. I think that's a challenge a lot of hotels face - not having up to date pricing information supplied. But Rate Insight is updated in real time.
Another issue with our previous tool was its lack of functionality and ease of use. Rate Insight is fully optimised for the user. It’s straightforward to navigate through, quick at updating prices, and I really like the reporting you can pull from it.
The reporting is quick and easy to link to other files, work around and modify for yourself. In the app itself, you can update the data and make changes in a few clicks, including: different data sets like room type and different lengths of stay, which we couldn’t in the previous tools we have used.
Rate Insight performs well with Ctrip rate shopping, which is especially beneficial for this hotel in the group, as that’s a big advantage in China.
I’ve also started using the rate evolution tab far more frequently this year, that’s my new favourite feature. I noticed that we were updating our rates much earlier than our compset. Competitors were holding on to their rates and I wanted to have a better understanding of what's happening in the market and why our competitors were updating their rates the way they were which rate evolution enables. My other favourite feature is the drop down calendar view so can you see the market demand on different dates.
One of the best things I have found when using the Rate Insight is the speed of customer service. If there are ever any concerns or questions the customer service team are incredibly fast in responding, which is crucial when using a technology solution.
"Rate Insight allows us to understand what our compset strategies are and then develop our own strategy to compete for the business."
The key benefit we have gained from Rate Insight is the ability to identify the strategy of our competitors. It offers insights like mobile versus desktop and how they change over time - it has allowed us to become more granular in monitoring our compset. That’s been particularly important over the past 12 months when targeting the domestic market.
We are predominantly an exhibition hotel and we have had a very limited number of exhibitions due to Covid-19. So we had to really tap into the domestic market which we hadn't targeted as much before. One of the things we noticed straight away through Rate Insight is that we were losing out on some of the domestic OTA demand - as well as domestic business demand. Rate Insight allows us to understand what our compset strategies are and then develop our own strategy to compete for the business.
Another element we have definitely seen benefit from is parity pricing. In the Chinese market, we have an overflow of all kinds of rates from Ctrip. Rate Insight has really helped us to understand where our rate party issues are coming from, thus helping to clear out rate parity issues.
The most apparent, tangible ROI we have seen when using Rate Insight is its time saving ability. My revenue analyst’s mornings are a lot more efficient than they used to be since we’ve had this tool in place.
Another strength of Rate Insight, in terms of my own job scope is that I've got clearer, more in-depth information on what's happening with our competitor pricing, when communicating to the rest of the Executive Committee and General Manager.
Rate Insight has enabled me to show fellow commercial teams more detailed information in terms of our pricing strategy and that of our competitors. This is of great help when I am in discussion with the Executive Committee, looking how to handle certain cases and trying to come to a decision.
"The most apparent, tangible ROI we have seen when using Rate Insight is its time saving ability. My revenue analyst’s mornings are a lot more efficient than they used to be, since we've had this tool in place."
Throughout the crisis, Rate Insight has given us a far greater understanding of the strategy of our competitors, allowing us to tap into markets we weren't as focused on before.
It is still providing the same insights in the current environment - the rate evolution tab is helping me analyse the strategy of our competitors because a lot of them are often holding their rates.
From the insights the solution provides me, my assumption is that they don't want to be priced too low and lose out on revenue once the borders eventually open. The window in the market is quite short at the moment but the data is proving helpful to monitor the market overall.
The main reasons why I would recommend Rate Insight are that it is easy to use, and it provides a lot more information than what I've seen in other available tools. It’s also cost effective, which is always crucial when selecting a technology solution.
I like that the tool has developed a lot over time and that’s the feedback that I've given directly to the Executive Committee here in China and to my regional bosses in Dubai. I've seen requests go through to OTA Insight and the changes are made in the system.
Home to Finland. I don’t know when i’ll get back there though. They started vaccinating foreign citizens here in China in April. So I'm hoping that when I get the vaccine I will be allowed to travel more freely.