Customer Spotlight: Village Accommodation Group
“We have found it’s been a very helpful method of benchmarking our properties and understanding how our actions are impacting our performance.”
About Village Accommodation Group
Village Accommodation Group, New Zealand owned and operated, manages a range of accommodation properties across many sectors of hospitality in 3, 4 and 5-star markets; including boutique luxury hotels, studios, apartments, and executive townhouses. Amongst the properties they manage are the uniquely designed mid-century Ohtel 5-star boutique hotels on Oriental Parade in Wellington, and the vibrant Viaduct Harbour in Auckland.
We chatted to Hazel Rigler, Chief Commercial Director at Village Accommodation Group to learn how she and her team use Rate Insight to understand their different markets, benchmark their properties against the correct competitor set, and see how their pricing strategy is performing in each market.
Positioning our unique properties effectively
Our main flagship property, Boulcott Suites here in Wellington, is a 5-star property with 116 apartments, ranging from one, two, three and four-bedroom options. When we originally set up Rate Insight, several years ago, the plan was to get the Boulcott Suites target audience right in the market competitor set.
We wanted to ensure we were matching like-for-like room mapping and be able to measure any fluctuations in demand in the city. The rate tool helps us understand shifts in market dynamics and any changes to our competitive set. We use the data in a way that makes sense for us, and for each of our properties as they're all quite different target audiences and markets. We've got the same staffing issues that everyone has globally, and appreciate that guests traveling to New Zealand are paying a lot of money to get here, and a lot of money while here. With that comes a lot of expectations.
It’s really important to keep a close eye on how we pitch ourselves in the market, understand where we sit with our product range, so that we're priced correctly and are managing our guests’ expectations appropriately.
"Rate Insight helps us understand shifts in market dynamics and any changes to our competitive set. We use the data in a way that makes sense for us, and for each of our properties as they're all quite different target audiences, and markets."
Addressing shifts in market behavior
Without having good data, it is very hard to make sound decisions. As New Zealand reopened, it was really important for us to know what the market demand was in each city. For example, Wellington came back a lot sooner from the pandemic and we saw demand increase really quickly within the Wellington market versus the Auckland market, which was a lot slower due to being the main location of where the case numbers had been.
Benchmarking our performance against the market
We need to have a logical system of analyzing data because we're looking at multiple properties and not just focused on one singular property, market or segment.
With Rate Insight, we have found it’s been a very helpful method of benchmarking our properties and understanding how our actions are impacting our performance. Having the data at hand means we can see if we need to make any changes, or tweaks, to our pricing strategy. Are there any spikes that look odd, for example? Why are we tracking so far ahead on certain dates versus our competitors?
Usually it's to do with how our apartments are set up for long stay, business and groups and all those kinds of components, but you get a great sense of this by digging into the data.
"If you're doing it all manually, it's just an unnecessary waste of time; that's the whole proposition around any tool. It's essential to be able to tap into that data at the time that you need it and look for anomalies."
Saving time for deeper analysis
If you're doing it all manually, it's just an unnecessary waste of time; that's the whole proposition around any kind of tool. It's essential to be able to tap into your data at the time that you need it to find anomalies and things that stand out, that don’t make sense or need further attention.
So without tools like Rate Insight, there's no way to really do that. You can have really great spreadsheets, but without current market data it is very hard and you’ve got no way to track how you're benchmarking.
We have one revenue manager and one reservations team for all of our properties. Our revenue manager would spend a long time trying to compile that if they didn't have the data touchpoints appropriately set up. Without that data, we are just running in the dark.
Alerts that make your decision-making efficient
We have daily alerts set up in Rate Insight and weekly reports that I look at from an overall strategic perspective. The alerts are really helpful in managing anomalies, especially as our portfolio is so big. It wouldn’t be possible to do it in any other way and still be able to deep dive into the analysis.
Having the right alerts to let you know when there has been a shift within a particular market gives us time to make sense of the data efficiently and respond quickly.
"It’s really hard to get any sense of the full market demand, or what your competitors are doing, when you don't have any data."
A word to your peers
It’s really hard to grasp the full market demand, or what your competitors are doing, when you don't have any data. There's always the discussion around having a dedicated revenue manager and a specific Revenue Management system.
Our philosophy is to have human analysis making sense of the data, while using tech to put it into a usable format efficiently.
Having a tool that can help you in your day-to-day decision making and on a longer-term strategic approach, that also saves time and handles data and big data collection points efficiently, is really important if you are to understand your competitors, your own product, where your strengths and weaknesses are, and what pricing decisions you can make around that.
Revenue Management tools like Rate Insight are always going to help rather than hinder, and will certainly improve you and your team’s capabilities.