Despite optimistic signals of pent-up travel demand, hotels are still at the mercy of ongoing travel restrictions and regulations. As a result, many hotels remain in complete shutdown. Furthermore, the expectation for financial recovery to 2019 levels continues to decline, with increasing numbers of Hotels now expecting this to take place in 2023. In this month’s Hotelier Spotlight Interview, we catch up with ‘Revenue Superstar’, Steffi Breitsprecher, Director of Revenue & Distribution at MEININGER Hotels and Member of Revenue Management Advisory Board at HSMA Deutschland. Here, she shares how her role in revenue management has adapted to the reactive and ever-changing landscape of the crisis. She also highlights how teams at MEININGER Hotels have used the downturn to review their tech-stack and collaborate to optimize the customer journey digitally.
It is no longer a question of demand. Rather, it is a question of how quickly the vaccination program will role out globally and everyone is free to travel again.
Swift vaccination distribution and partial reopenings across the UK and US have lead to a major influx of bookings from these regions to near-2019 levels. How have these market developments impacted MEININGER specifically?
Based on the current signals from consumers, I think this is no longer a question of demand. Rather, it is a question of how quickly the vaccination program will role out globally and everyone is free to travel again. Apart from the more vulnerable groups, people are not afraid to travel. However, everyone is also waiting for travel bans to be lifted. When that happens will depend on many factors.
It’s also important to note that while these are certainly optimistic signals, city hotels (such as our hotel in London) are not seeing the impact yet. While the domestic market remains stable, city hubs and destinations dependent on international travel are crippled right now. It seems unlikely that the Americans will come in the summer given the slow vaccination pace and soaring cases across Europe. So while we hope for the best, I am also cautious about what the next few months may bring.
Despite pent-up travel demand, increasing numbers of Hotels are still completely shutdown. What other areas is MEININGER focusing on during minimal commercial activity ?
The crisis hit us fast and hard in March 2020. We all fell into a hole that no one saw coming. As a result, revenue management underwent a complete overhaul, with all prior reports and forecasts tossed aside to react to the shock in the industry. A big part of adapting to ‘The New Normal’ was to educate ourselves and review our tech-stack to strengthen our position for the upturn.
We also increased inter-departmental collaboration to understand all facets of our business activity and the customer journey. A few of the key projects we focussed on in 2020 were to increase digital optimization on our website and IBE, including page loading speed to enhance the customer journey.
From the revenue management side, we adjusted our rates structure and consolidated all of our hotels into one PMS for more efficient, centralized inventory management. We also consolidated customer care and group sales, as many customers were reaching out to MEININGER directly.
I am proud to say that we have completed all the projects we set ourselves to fulfil back in 2020. It just goes to show that these times should be used as an opportunity to keep going, learning, and moving for when the demand picks up again. I am also grateful for the support of the owners and stakeholders in these endeavors. This year will open 5 new properties in Europe, across Switzerland, France, and Austria, and I feel confident that we have prepared ourselves for this new and exciting chapter.