Read how some hotels are using eStandby Upgrade to drive more revenue for their
properties and increase customer satisfaction at the same time.
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Doubletree® Anaheim/Orange County’s Jean Vetri, Director of Front Office, was initially very skeptical about eStandby Upgrade® when she was first introduced to the program in 2007. “I really thought the no-risk aspect of eStandby Upgrade® sounded too good to be true – but once I saw the program in action, I found that it truly was a no-risk program, all upside for the hotel. Now I think that if a hotel doesn’t have eStandby Upgrade® – well, they’re just stupid. It makes no sense to NOT do Nor1. The profit from Nor1 is amazing.
Doubletree® Anaheim was an original pilot property for Nor1’s eStandby Upgrade®. In this property with few room types and tight staffing, the objective was to create an upsell opportunity that would be compelling for the guests, and would demonstrate Nor1’s “no-risk” value proposition.
The Doubletree® Anaheim is a property with very few room types. Aside from a dozen suites, most of the 460 rooms are all very similar, except for placement on higher floors and amenities such as microwaves or secured floor access. The upgrades from standard rooms to suites were simple to create. Yet, Nor1 and Doubletree® Anaheim wanted more from the program.
“Nor1 helped us to start offering Disneyland® views as upgrades to a “virtual” room type,” Vetri explained. “We didn’t have the go-ahead to create these in our PMS as true room categories, but with Nor1 we were able to monetize these views – at no risk and with no real work on our side.”
“At first we worried that this was a little crazy – would people really pay more money for a view of Disneyland®? With Nor1, we were able to experiment with this concept and come up with compelling offers that our guests were glad to request,” Vetri commented. What’s more, the Anaheim team was able to avoid time-consuming discussions regarding changing the room types in their own management system.
More than a year into the program, Vetri is very pleased with the results. “We’re so pleased with the level of revenue we’re getting – the revenue is really something to brag about,” she stated, chuckling over the numbers. “We’re not only getting more revenue, our guests are happier, too. Even with our internal staff, it helps to tell them how much eStandby Upgrade® is making for the hotel so they know that Nor1 is really producing great numbers for us.”
The time the hotel invests in eStandby Upgrade® is well worth it, even on a daily basis. “Nobody at the property has to do anything much, whether it is to set up the hotel initially in eStandby or it is spending a few minutes each day awarding upgrades. Even if you had a huge property, the revenue Nor1 brings in more than covers the cost of the staff time to manage the daily awards,”said Vetri.
Awarding guest requests in advance has also been a useful technique at the Doubletree® Anaheim. “We’ve found that processing the SmartQ in advance, especially for the view upgrades, has been very helpful in getting us extra revenue. We try to do it at least a week out to make sure we’ve captured the revenue from Nor1 first,” Vetri noted.
The most important thing, she concluded, is to keep the staff aware of what Nor1 is doing for the hotel, so they understand the program. “The profit is amazing, and making sure people know it really matters.”
When your trademark symbol, the Stratosphere Tower, is renowned as the tallest observation tower in the United States, it’s natural for your business goals to soar equally high. In the competitive environment of Las Vegas, business goals are achieved by strategic revenue management of intricate matrices of rooms and rates. At the Stratosphere, Nor1’s eStandby Upgrade® product not only provided the vehicle for improving revenue, it also paved the way to a stronger revenue management program overall.
The Stratosphere joined the Nor1 eStandby Upgrade® program in 2008. With its broad range of room types and complex set of room rates, the initial process of developing appropriate upgrades could have presented a major challenge. Instead, the Nor1 and Stratosphere teams kept to a simple approach of multiple upgrades for every room type, with a very low “cost of entry” to encourage guest uptake.
Brian Christensen, Revenue and Distribution Manager for the Stratosphere, was involved with the Nor1 program from the launch. “I thought it initially performed decently, actually better than I had expected, but I wondered if we had optimized the program fully. Our upgrade prices initially were very minimal.
“As time went on we saw opportunities to improve performance and to sharpen our revenue management approach. So, working with Nor1’s team, we doubled the bottom tier and increased other tiers as well. The results were great – we actually doubled our award rate. What’s more, even with our higher pricing, we saw that the guest request rate for our upgrades stayed steady.”
Nor1’s Director of Revenue Management, Tim Coleman, commented: “Brian took the lead in making pricing changes, having seen from his experience with Nor1 that he could not only improve his upgrade pricing, but could also make improvements in the underlying pricing of the rooms. We worked together to identify room rate differentials that needed to be changed, and that made it easier for us to mutually make the right changes to the upgrade amounts. “
The results of stronger pricing tell the story best, according to Christensen: “In the first month after we changed the pricing, we saw 40 percent growth in our potential revenue from the eStandby® program – and we’ve held steady at this improved level since we made this change.” The 40 percent improvement marked the Nor1 program as a winning contributor in the Stratosphere’s revenue plans.
As the Stratosphere continues with eStandby®, Christensen sees further areas for growth. “The Nor1 team is great. They’re always there to assist you, and are good at pointing out things we might not see in our day-to-day hustle. We’re working now to make sure our front-desk staff is proactive in awarding upgrades each day, and we look forward to further tweaking of our pricing and upgrades to build even more revenue from the program.”
He continued, “I think the program is ‘found money’ for us. I like Nor1 because there is no risk to the hotel; it is all upside for us. It’s a very strong program and we’re very pleased to be an eStandby Upgrade partner.”
Wild Dunes Resort is a 1,600 acre oceanfront paradise with a variety of luxurious accommodations, ranging from the AAA Four Diamond-rated Boardwalk Inn to the brand new Village at Wild Dunes ® – exclusive four-diamond quality guest rooms and suites – to villa and home rentals. With a complicated room structure, seasonal pricing plans, and multiple pricing tiers, the challenge of managing occupancy and determining upgrades posed an interesting assignment for Nor1’s implementation staff.
“Wild Dunes has a very complicated structure – perhaps the most complicated we had encountered,” said Don Smith, EVP Business Development at Nor1. “Rather than trying to offer upgrades for every room type, we worked with the Wild Dunes staff to focus on providing offers that would make guests happy, maximize revenue and be a successful program for Wild Dunes.”
“Nor1 worked closely with our team to analyze our situation,” commented Kristie Santora, CRME, Regional Director of Reservations and Revenue Optimization for Wild Dunes Resort, Destination Hotels and Resorts. “Nor1 respected our intimate knowledge of our property, and with their deep knowledge of the capabilities of the Nor1 system, worked together with us to create a matrix of upgrades that not only met our needs, but surprised us with the strong response and improved revenue we’ve seen.”
“Initially, we saw Nor1 simply as an opportunity to make more revenue,” said Ms. Santora. “In actuality, we’ve not only created extra revenue, but we’ve also created more value for our guests and provided a better guest experience. Neither we, nor our guests would have experienced this without Nor1.
“What’s more, the Nor1 process as a whole has given us true insights into what we should be selling and what pleases our guests. We knew, for example, that many guests would request a balcony – and now with Nor1, we’re able to offer upgraded rooms with amenities like balconies or pool views, which we couldn’t have done before since these aren’t actual room types,” she said. “We’ve been able to evaluate and change our inventory, and adjust what we choose to sell in order to improve our overall offering.”