from Maestro at NORTHWIND
April 3, 2002 - Like two sisters from the same family who resemble each
other but also compete for family favors, The Dunes and The Island House
hotels on the soothing and wholesome Gulf Coast both chose the same technology
solution to beat the competition, but for different reasons.
“This is the third month we’ve had the system and we have received Internet reservations each day since the beginning of the installation,” said McCay, who also noted the drive-in “Gulf and Golf” resort property has had occupancy rates higher than the previous year’s in every month since September 11th except for October, 2001. The sought-after Dunes was the number one Web-booking property of all of NORTHWIND’s clients for the month of February, 2002. “Before, an online booking system may have been affordable but it was not real time,” which resulted in lost or locked-up rooms. The system also seamlessly integrates with yield management. “If I put restrictions on arrivals or minimum night stays,” McCay continued, “that is automatically picked up through ResEze,” which also allows guest services to override the rack rate, if necessary.
A case in point: When the Blue Angel Air Show was moved from Pensacola NAS to Pensacola Beach because of security concerns in November, 2001, McCay wanted to increase the winter rates just for the dates of the show. “In our old system without yield management, we would have had to go into the rate module and literally change the rate for each of our 13 room types, which is time consuming and costly. In Maestro, we do it in four keystrokes without ever having to change our rack rate. We can also set a percentage in the computer to close date-of-arrival when rooms get to 75% occupancy, for example.” McCay added that “prior to having a yield management system we were putting post-it-notes and typed pieces of paper in front of our reservations people. Our yield management system was verbal.”
Occupancy rates become important during the winter months when golfers from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio drive down Interstate 65 to stay at The Dunes, and take advantage of the property’s golf packages with ten area PGA courses. “When the Midwestern golf courses are closed, ours are beautiful,” said McCay. She believes their online, real time reservation booking engine puts The Dunes on the same footing as big golf destinations such as Myrtle Beach and Scottsdale. “The challenge of an independent hotel is getting more visibility and, for this, our Web site is important. Prior to ResEze it was more like a brochure; now, it’s a tool to generate revenue and make us more visible,” said McCay.
Reporting Features: Magic To A Property’s Operations Flow
Understanding internal operations through superior reporting features is key to a drive-in resort’s ability to compete with fly-in properties going after the same guests since September 11th, believes Barbara Walters, General Manager of the prestigious Island House Hotel in Orange Beach, Alabama. Like her counterpart at The Dunes, Walters also installed NORTHWIND’s ResEze™ Internet booking system and Maestro Property Management System with its yield management function at the end of 2001.
“All the tools a manager needs to analyze the marketplace are at my fingertips now: demographics, availability, revenues, occupancy levels, reservations. Before installing Maestro, 20% of my morning was committed to reviewing operations and establishing controls. That was cut in half. Now I spend about an hour a day on operational reports, establishing yield management goals and decision-making, freeing up the time to be the on-site manager I need to be,” Walters explained. “Operationally when an engineer comes to me and says, ‘I need one-half the parking lot. What is a good day for us to schedule this project?’ , or, if I know that on a Monday engineering wants to have the building façade and windows washed, I can check rooms available versus rooms sold to find out in no time at all that Monday morning is a great day to do this. If we have a maintenance project of any kind, I need to know how the hotel could be affected. The fact that I can find all those answers quickly in my new Maestro PMS is a major benefit.”
Walters also uses reports from the PMS system to focus her staff on the geographic origin of guests, which in turns impacts the way advertising and marketing dollars are spent. “The Guest Services team is enjoying learning how a guest heard of us and where they are coming from. It has opened their eyes. Before our current system, we assumed most of our drive-in guests were from the local region when in fact about 48% of our corporate and family business comes from outside the immediate Alabama Gulf Coast area,” said Walters. She noted that a major marketing thrust by the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention and Visitor’s Bureau into the nearby Atlanta, Georgia market has resulted in a 40% increase in drive-in guests from that area. “Our reports showed us that this is a good place to put part of our advertising budget right now.” Walters also uses the yield management functions to govern online reservations, which were not available to The Island House prior to ResEze being installed.
Training With Keystrokes
Training the hotel’s guest services staff is another focus for The Dunes’ McCay, who bans the use of a mouse during training sessions. The PMS system is flexible enough to let her use keystroke commands to teach the new system so that staff members can maintain eye contact with the guest they are serving. After conducting demos for her staff both ways – with and without using a mouse – McCay said the difference between maintaining eye contact versus following the on-screen cursor made a big impression on her team. “You are not being processed at our hotel. You are being greeted and accommodated. We do not take our eyes off the guest.” By training her staff in this way McCay finds they are not hostage to the mouse and only use it to check things without looking away from the guest.
McCay is not hostage to escalating support costs either. While she was looking for a Windows-based product, she likes the fact that her PMS system is also written for NT 2000, UNIX, and Linux with a Windows look and feel. “Today’s technology cannot hold NORTHWIND hostage, which is real bright, and helps keep our ongoing support costs manageable. “
About The Dunes Hotel
About The Island House Hotel
|Also See||Château Cartier Resort Boosts Annual ADR and Sales With Maestro PMS, Yield Management, Sales and Catering from NORTHWIND / March 2002|
|Maestro at Northwind Off to a Good Note in 2002 / Jan 2002|
|NORTHWIND Announces Two–Way GDS and Internet Travel Portal Integration through Newtrade Technologies Inc. / December 2001|
|Pacific International Hotels’ selects Maestro Property Management System / Nov 2001|