Customer Spotlight: Portobay Hotels & Resorts
“At Lighthouse, they want to accompany you on your success, where everyone is pushing for one thing, and that's to maximize the revenue of your hotels and resorts”
About Portobay Hotels & Resorts
PortoBay Hotels & Resorts is an award-winning hotel group with 5 and 4-star hotels comprising 15 hotels: 12 in Portugal (7 on the island of Madeira, 1 in the Algarve, 2 in Lisbon and 2 in Porto) and 3 in Brazil (Rio de Janeiro, Búzios and São Paulo), which have a total of around 3,350 beds. The PortoBay Group was created by choosing the best locations, both urban sites and resorts, and designing hotels perfectly tailored to market needs in terms of facilities, service and positioning. All the hotels have different concepts, but are similar in terms of quality. All of them carry the guarantee of the PortoBay brand - to rekindle the memory of Atlantic exploration and discovery, by offering the complete Atlantic experience.
We caught up with Beto Serrão, Revenue Manager at Portobay Hotels and Resorts, to learn more about how he has been using Market and Rate Insight as a beacon to navigate his way through the choppy waters of revenue management during the pandemic.
Just after I took over the revenue management at Portobay in January 2020 everything began closing down. Our first priority was our guests, and getting them home before everything shut down, but when we eventually reopened we had to figure out how demand was looking. We had been using Rate Insight to compare our position against our competitive set, but where I really felt the benefits of the Lighthouse tools was when we subscribed to Market Insight. We could see exactly how demand was, and where it was coming from. Knowing which countries were booking was important, especially taking into account all the restrictions that were in place.
What was true three years ago is not true today. There's been a lot of change. You can spend time gathering that information, but when you actually start implementing your strategy, it’s already outdated. That's how volatile the market can be, and that's the importance of having tools, like Market Insight. You need to have constantly updated information at your fingertips - that's what you get from Market Insight. Just as a reference, for example, in May 2022, one of our properties will have generated the highest revenue ever for the property. It’s only through using the data from Market Insight that we have been able to reach this objective.
"What was true three years ago is not true today. There's been a lot of change. You can spend time gathering that information, but when you actually start implementing your strategy, it’s already outdated. That's how volatile the market can be, and that's the importance of having tools, like Market Insight."
The right tools to cope with a volatile market
With demand being so low, everyone was trying to get their share of the market. Using Market Insight, we are able to see when demand was increasing, when it was falling, and what nationalities have been looking.
As demand picked up and our source markets returned, we could see our competitive sets pushing up their rates again, sending favorable signals to sell your property as best as you can. Once we saw demand pick up from our two traditionally biggest markets, the US and Brazil, we could implement geo promotions if I felt I needed to.
Monitor your competitors and spot opportunities
With Rate Insight, we can easily see how our competitors were structuring their strategy, and compare how we stand today versus seven days ago. We use this in our revenue management meetings so that everyone understands how the market is pricing.
Everyone in my commercial team is benefitting from the information we extract from it; it's being shared with marketing and sales. We started picking up a trend from our competitors, where they were pricing higher on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and adjusted our own strategy to ensure we were not losing out.
We've also noticed that some competitors will push their rates up quite high one week, when they feel that there's higher demand and availability, but then, seven days later, they drop their prices back to the same level that they were previously. The fact that I can monitor my competitors doing this, tells me I don't have to run after them, and if next week they continue to increase their rates, there’s an opportunity for me to grow and be a little bit more aggressive.
I wouldn't be able to do this if I didn't have the comparisons of seven days ago. With this info and our analysis, we have built a sound strategy that is constantly evolving.
More time to focus on revenue-generating strategy
There are only so many things you can do within a 9-hour workday, so when I get to the office, I want to run the report so that I have the latest information. Before using Market and Rate Insight, we were manually collecting relevant information. Now I have it all in one place, which means I have become more efficient and have been able to change my focus from gathering data to focusing on strategy.
Gathering the data is not going to increase my bottom line, it's only by acting on the data that I’m going to be able to generate more revenue. When you are so bent on gathering the info, you're not actually taking action and on top of that, you're taking action on outdated information. By using these tools, it simply becomes a question of deciding how I want to act on the information it provides.
Solving parity problems and competitive discounting
Before using Rate Insight, gathering the data was very time-consuming, and we would often run into a situation where a client was on the phone with reservations saying that they are getting a much better rate on an OTA. Now, with the parity option, in one click you can see where that specific lower rate is coming from and act on it immediately. I can also see the mobile rates and the loyalty discounts my competitors are using, which helps to see what their strategy is.
We adapted our strategy all through 2020 and 2021, which really helped us to gain some market share, especially as these days a lot of reservations are coming through mobile. Without this data, not only would we be out of parity, but we would also just be navigating blind and not seeing where the opportunities are.
"The Lighthouse tools are constantly in development, constantly pushing out new functionalities, constantly updating the user interface."
An innovative tech solution with a human connection
The Lighthouse tools are constantly in development, constantly pushing out new functionalities, and constantly updating the user interface. Every time there’s any new functionality, the Lighthouse team schedules a call with us so that they can explain what's new. This, to me, is very important, as I don’t want a stagnant tech partner, where there is no product development.
There is also a human side to it, which is also important. Whenever I connect with the Lighthouse team, not only do they let me know new developments, but they constantly update me on market trends and strategies, so that we can keep up. At Lighthouse, they want to accompany you on your success, where everyone is pushing for one thing, and that's to maximize the revenue of your hotels and resorts.
A word to your peers
One of the biggest challenges to implementing a tech solution that we had was the investment. While they cost money, which is sometimes off-putting to hoteliers, who need to control their budgets, and their costs, you're actually losing money without them.
You need to have technological solutions, like Market and Rate Insight in order to assist you so that you are able to look at forward-looking information, to analyze your markets, to understand what strategies your competitive set is doing, and to adapt your own strategy. It simply enables you to increase your revenue. Yes, they cost money, but the return you will see and the time that you will save make it worth it. It's all positive.