Founded in 1960, Oakwood boasts eight brands with over 80 locations spread across Asia, the United States and Europe. The group is known for combining the space and comfort of a private residence with thoughtful property services and amenities across its portfolio of award-winning properties. Their broad range of accommodation options makes Oakwood’s properties ideal for both business and leisure guests in town for a short visit or an extended stay.
We recently sat down with Michelle Low, Global VP for Sales, Revenue and Distribution at Oakwood. Our goal was to gather real-life insights into how properties benefitted from OTA Insight’s business intelligence (BI) tools during the pandemic and recovery.
Michelle shared how Rate Insight helped her team save time and build well-informed pricing strategies even in a challenging market. She also revealed how the property piloting Market Insight has been able to stay ahead of the game through comprehensive future demand and competitor insights.
"Rate Insight proved to be the BI solution that could help us do our job better despite our limited resources. It reduced our time spent on manual competitor research by 60%."
Oakwood operates a diverse portfolio of properties. This means we work with many different pricing strategies which can be quite time-consuming. However, since most of our propertiess get around 60% of their business from long-stay bookings, our reservation teams are smaller than in traditional hotels. That left us with limited resources for the manual competitor research we needed to inform our pricing strategy. Unfortunately, that was our only option before we implemented Rate Insight.
The questionable accuracy of our manual rate shops was another big challenge for us. With rates changing quickly in dynamic markets, we couldn’t be sure that our information was still up to date by the time we adjusted our prices.
Rate Insight proved to be the BI solution that could help us do our job better despite our limited resources. It reduced our time spent on manual competitor research by 60%. The data’s accuracy is also impressive.
Since the platform provides live compset rates 24/7 in an easy-to-read format, we always know exactly where we stand and which prices we need to adjust. The colour-coded dashboard makes it especially quick to spot these opportunities. These user-friendly real-time insights allow us to make the immediate adjustments necessary in a dynamic market.
"Now we can plan our pricing further in advance and are able to yield on the short-stay reservations to boost our incremental revenue."
In the past, we had to choose which competitors we’d follow most closely. Now, Rate Insight allows us to monitor a primary and secondary compset. This gives us a broader impression of the market and lets us look beyond our main competitors.
Seeing how other properties were pricing their inventory shows what level of business they’re expecting or have already confirmed over the next three to six months. If we see sudden, quick rate changes, we know something is happening in the city and can react in time.
Combined, these insights allow us to do two things. First, we can plan our pricing further in advance for the extended-stay bookings with a longer lead time. Second, we know when to yield on the short-stay reservations to boost our incremental revenue.
During the pandemic Rate Insight’s live data also proved extremely useful. We could monitor how our compset reacted to demand shifts and knew how they were competing with each other on pricing. This made it easier to understand the changing landscape and maintain our place in the market.
Currently, we’re piloting Market Insight at one of our Singapore properties and are impressed with its forward-looking demand insights.
Previously, we looked a lot at pricing when forming our strategies. Market Insight delivers whole new data sets which we couldn’t access any other way in such detail. This data includes flight patterns and forward-looking demand by source market, among other things.
Now we see which markets react to changes in restrictions and where people are planning trips to Singapore before the first bookings come in. For example, when the first Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) flights were announced, Market Insight showed strong demand in Germany. Consequently, we targeted this source market with promotions on OTAs and captured bookings we may have missed otherwise. After this success, we’re keeping our eyes open for more such opportunities.
Given this successful pilot, we’re looking to roll out Market Insight at further properties, especially those with more short-stay business.
"In today’s dynamic markets, nothing beats having real-time and forward-looking information to make smart pricing decisions and form well-rounded strategies. "
Since the pandemic, most promotions work on a much faster turnaround since it’s hard to plan far into the future. That means we have to react quickly when we see emerging demand or restrictions suddenly change. The faster we do that, the more bookings we capture. Market Insight gives us an edge over the competition in this regard since it provides the detailed live information the revenue and marketing teams need to make quick decisions.
Finally, Market Insight in combination with Rate Insight helps us forecast more accurately. We can look at incoming requests and compare them to the demand and pricing data we see in the system. This helps us identify the business which is most likely to materialise and avoid a false sense of activity that could cause us to miss other opportunities.
We compared several vendors and saw multiple demos when we were going through the RFP process to find the right BI solution. Apart from the technology itself, good customer support was a major factor for us. Yes, Rate Insight’s capabilities impressed us. But the support team’s responsiveness and their way of interacting with us convinced us to go with OTA Insight.
Straight off the bat, we got along perfectly with our customer success agent. She goes out of her way to work with the technical team and find the best way for the system to accommodate our type of properties.
We always get quick responses to questions and never have to wait long for an issue to be solved. It’s been an immense pleasure working with OTA Insight’s team and we appreciate their sincere, accommodating support.
"It’s been an immense pleasure working with OTA Insight’s team and we appreciate their sincere, accommodating support."
Rate Insight and Market Insight are the best tools we’ve subscribed to so far. That’s why my advice to every hotelier is that they should get these solutions now.
In today’s dynamic markets, nothing beats having real-time and forward-looking information to make smart pricing decisions and form well-rounded strategies.
It’s the only way to stay ahead of the game and be a market leader in terms of pricing instead of a follower.