After an engaging discussion on the topic of Asset Profit Optimisation, the roundtable proceeded for a tea break where participants and students were provided with a wide spread of local delights.
Despite the lack of a seating arrangement for the 30-minutes break, students and participants were still comfortable in reaching out, mingling and getting to know each other. Students were friendly and actively in approaching the industry experts and seized the opportunity to consult them on pertinent issues and topics that interest them even though it was the first networking session of the day. Some interesting conversations that came up during the break were:
What is the future of revenue management like?
“The problems that revenue managers faced five years ago are still evident today, and we believe that the problems will still be there five years later.” – Eric Wong from Infor
What do you like most about your job?
“My favorite part about my job is that there is no typical day, and that every day presents a unique challenge, problem or obstacle for me to tackle.” – Siv Forlie from Shangri-La
What does revenue management mean to Google?
“We are trying to develop our search engine into a tool that can be used as an online travel agency like Expedia and Agoda, and we require our people to possess certain revenue management skills in order to make full use of the system and also to improve it at the same time” – Ayesha D’Souza from Google
During the tea break, our group personally spoke with Ms. Amanda See (Vice President at Duetto) about the application of revenue management in the hotel industry. She explained that the industry is currently lacking talented and analytical individuals, and how revenue managers have evolved from being reservation managers in the past, to specially trained revenue managers today. We found it particularly interesting how hotels are utilising certain data regarding the inflow of tourists and their lengths of stay in their pricing decisions. To add on, she gave us an in-depth explanation of what Duetto does, her personal experiences and that Duetto mainly focus on the hotel and gaming industries. She also shared with us the vast differences in the revenue approaches between these two industries. Although the interaction was a short one due to the time given, it definitely was a wonderful experience to be able to gain insights into the industry.
Looking at how students and the industry leaders alike were so engrossed in their conversations and that they almost had to be dragged to the discussion room for the second session of the day, it was safe to say that the networking tea was a success! Although the break was merely 30 minutes, our group really enjoyed learning and gaining new insights about revenue management, especially from real life experiences provided by the industry experts. We are honoured to have met these industry experts and made some friends along the way. We are sure that the rest of the students and the industry leaders enjoyed the interaction and food as much as we do!
Thank you Prof Sherri Kimes and the industry leaders for this insightful roundtable experience!
After an exciting discussion on Asset Profit Maximization, the roundtable broke off for a sumptuous tea at the Executive Dining Room. This is the first session where students got to engage and network with the panel in a more casual setting.
Industry participants still immersed in discussions during tea break
Students and guests queueing up at the buffet table
The team had a lively discussion with Mr Clive Hawthorn from Expedia over the use of Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) and their relationship with hotels. Both were very willing to go through their thoughts on the previous session when asked. In line with the topic of discussion earlier on Asset Profit Maximization, OTAs can help hotels to achieve this by conducting know-your-customer (KYC). But they are not incentivised by the hotels to do so. On the other hand, the hotels are not providing sufficient information to OTAs so that they could better conduct KYC. Benefits for both parties could potentially be derived through data sharing. However, although both the hotels and OTAs have their own trove of data about the customers, the value of such information are still too sensitive to share.
Don’t you wonder how things could change when more of such information is shared?
Students in deep discussion with Mr Clive Hawthorn from Expedia and Mr Patrick Andres from Rainmaker
Mr Patrick Andres from Rainmaker spoke about how hotels are making reservations for its customers. The process varies and could be improved. He mentioned that hotels may not be not effectively gathering and making use of customer information during the reservation process. Some hotels only ask if the customer is part of the hotel’s loyalty or membership program at the end of the booking process. It might be more useful for the hotels to ask about this upfront so that they can pull out the information on the customer, such as his spending habits, before offering the customer a particular room.
Mr Maunik Thacker from Marina Bay Sands and Prof Sherri Kimes mingling with the students
Some other conversations in the room included asking Mr Maunik Thacker and Mr Chhavi Malhotra on whether they take into account sociopolitical events in their revenue management system. Although they do, these events are treated as a black swan because of their low probability of occurrence. They hotel will not do demand forecast for it but rather, will prepare contingency plans.
If MBS already has such a high occupancy rate (almost 99%), why partner OTA like Expedia?
They may be able to reach potential customer groups that MBS is not able to, thus widening MBS’s customer base. It is good even with 100% occupancy rate because it gives MBS greater options. For example, when previously it has 4 guests to choose from, now it can choose between 5.
More general topics that were talked about were the importance of travelling, especially to other countries in SEA. This will allow us to see how lucky we are here in Singapore and better appreciate what we have!
Mr Tarandeep Singh sharing with students about internships
Of course, beyond the topics about the current revenue management industry, students will also be interested in potential job opportunities. Mr Tarandeep Singh from InterContinental Group was sharing about what companies may be looking for in applicants and how business analytics skill is so important now.