Sarova Hotels is a group of independently owned hotels and health clubs spread across the south of England. From ‘The Rembrandt’ in London’s glamorous neighbourhood of Knightsbridge to the ‘Sir Christopher Wren’ beneath the ramparts of Windsor Castle, the luxury group has a broad offering for both business and leisure travellers across its portfolio of iconic 4-star properties.
With several historical properties on their books, they have been gradually introducing some innovative technology to help upgrade their systems over the last few years. We spoke with Group Revenue Manager Jon Siberry about their digital transformation.
Old school frustrations
“We were doing revenue management (RM) manually beforehand – we had a homemade RM system that I had designed and built myself over the years in Excel. It was a big sheet…and we had been running it for 15 years. We had looked into using a Revenue Management System at several different moments before but never felt that the solutions were really innovative enough to make a switch.
We then heard about Pace Revenue, now FLYR for Hospitality, and we found the rate recommendation and the analytics part of the system particularly intriguing. A human simply can’t do that volume of analysis and the cost of the platform seemed a lot more affordable than we had expected based on the legacy options. We actually worked out the return that we needed to justify the investment and we calculated that it didn’t take that much for the system to pay for itself. So we then decided to run a trial at one of our hotels but, unfortunately, Covid hit soon after and we were forced to end the trial…
We then had a look again once the pandemic started easing earlier this year and were really excited to see that the system had evolved even more since we first tried it out. The functionality was even better and the team had been really proactive at iterating on the system – including many suggestions we had made!
The platform’s simplicity was one of the big draws. It’s easy to navigate around – you just login and go to the pricing module. We have a few different people who look at different data and charts, including two directors, so ease-of-use was essential. Put simply, it just does the job it’s there to do extremely well and the platform is so intuitive. Oh and another big USP was that it’s always pricing up to 365 days out, which we could never do manually with humans and a big Excel spreadsheet!”
“Our ADR is now considerably higher than it was at the same time in 2019. With our set up, Pace (FLYR for Hospitality) has been making price changes by a differential of up to £20 pounds but tends to mostly vary prices between a £5 to £10 band. We’re also pretty much back to full capacity again and have had several nights at full occupancy. The start of the summer was particularly strong for us with revenues up significantly.
The recommendations are working well, although we still haven’t switched on full automation yet as we are still getting used to the new technologic paradigm. We need to first make sure we have a culture in place to keep an eye on all the rates and that they are accurate as we’ve been doing things manually for so long that we still have that process in place. We’re gradually making the transition to new cloud-based technologies but, of course, it takes time…
Efficiency savings from switching have been massive for us. Manual rate updating in Opera is a real hassle! It not only takes up a lot of time but it is hugely prone to mistakes!To be able to do it all with a click of a button is a huge saving!”
The Business Intelligence tool is great as well. It’s clean and simple to use. There is a lot of good data in there and I personally look at the pickup chart a lot as its super easy to see how much we have picked up per day. You can quickly spot the good and the bad days. I’m looking forward to spending more time exploring it all.”
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