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Pursuing hotel revenue: Interview with Gábor Fáska, Solvatory

Revenue is one of the most crucial indicators of a hotel’s success. It determines the property's future and should be carefully considered in making key business decisions. The goal is to rent out as many rooms as possible at the highest possible price. This is a general aim, but we are talking about a much more complex process with numerous variables. Therefore, it is crucial to pay particular attention to all revenue-related issues.

To paint a clearer, comprehensive picture of hotel revenue, we reached out to a significant representative of the Hungarian tourism industry. Gábor Fáska, a business consultant and hotel expert, shares his experience and views on hotel revenue management. As Head of the Budapest region of the Hungarian Hotel Association, and President of the boutique hotel section, he has substantial professional experience and insight into Hungarian hotel industry trends.

Can you give a summary of your background in the hotel industry and what has kept you passionate about working in this field for so long?

I have been working in tourism for over 20 years, and have always been fascinated by this world. Even during my studies, I focused on revenue management, and I've always been interested in innovative solutions. I've held various roles in hotels, from housekeeping to general management, before diving into online sales and revenue management.

With over 20 years in the hotel industry, I've gained extensive firsthand experience in guest relations and the inner workings of various departments such as reception, housekeeping, and breakfast service. This dynamic industry constantly presents new challenges that keep me engaged. Alongside my passion for hotel operations, I've also always had a keen interest in numbers and statistics, enjoying the process of solving financial challenges and maximising productivity. Embracing new technology is crucial in our field, and I love exploring the latest innovations. Our work impacts people's lives directly, which is incredibly rewarding as it keeps us adapting to change and tackling fresh challenges every day. This ongoing evolution is what fuels my continued enthusiasm.

Tell us about Solvatory. What services do you offer, and what are your plans for the future?

Solvatory provides specialised hotel business solutions focused on maximising revenue for our partners. Our expertise lies in revenue management, a field built on trust as we play a pivotal role in optimising revenue for properties. Our goal is for the property to operate with the highest occupancy, at the highest average price, every day.

With a decade of experience, our company, aptly named Solvatory (a name derived from "Solving Factory"), reflects our commitment to addressing challenges on a daily basis. We believe that there is no problem that cannot be solved.

Drawing on our extensive hotel knowledge, we support our clients in making crucial strategic and operational decisions that impact their hotel’s day-to-day operations and long-term success. From staffing to breakfast services to pricing strategies, we offer guidance backed by hands-on experience. Our approach ensures that we can address nearly any challenge presented to us, consistently providing proven solutions.

Our clientele primarily consists of sales managers from larger hotels or directors/owners of smaller establishments who consider us an essential part of their team due to our collaborative daily interactions. By prioritising revenue optimisation, we not only make strategic decisions but also implement continuous adjustments, monitoring, and parameter checks. Leveraging our in-house expertise, we have the capability to substantially increase a hotel's occupancy, for example, elevating it from 80% to 95%.

Having an ownership perspective, I understand the expectations of other owners, enabling me to effectively advocate for their interests. Our shared understanding facilitates seamless collaboration, ensuring successful cooperation.

Currently, there's a shortage of expertise in this relatively young field of revenue management. Given the many hotels and associated high costs, achieving optimal occupancy at the best price has become even more critical and a significant responsibility. The importance of expertise in new technologies cannot be overstated, and that's where our role becomes pivotal. Recognising the importance of education for the development of the profession, I actively contribute by teaching this subject at several universities.

Looking ahead, our future goal is to continue supporting as many hotels as possible in achieving successful operations. Alongside serving the domestic market, we aspire to expand internationally, sharing our knowledge globally. Besides, we want to pass on as much technological knowledge as possible to those working in the hotel industry.

What is revenue management for you, and what role does it play for hotels in today's dynamic market?

The primary aim of revenue management is to optimise revenue, and strive to achieve the highest average price and occupancy each day, which serves as a cornerstone in the long-term operation of any hotel. Working with the right strategy is essential to ensure success. Originating from the airline industry, revenue management was initially employed to optimise revenue in a setting with seats for a defined number of passengers. In contrast, hotels present a broader range of solutions, challenges, and opportunities for personalisation. 

While automation adoption has been somewhat gradual within this industry, its prevalence is steadily increasing. The emergence of online sales over the past 15 years has caused substantial shifts across industries globally, driven by internet and technological advancements. However, the field of revenue management remains relatively young. The role of revenue managers is also relatively new, with only about 20 years of history.

Still today, there are hotels that do not prioritise revenue management despite its vital role. Some argue whether the hotel should be fully booked or not because they believe that having a good price is more important than full occupancy. This is a challenging question because there's a threshold where increasing the price may not attract new bookings, while keeping it unchanged could result in full occupancy. I firmly believe that a hotel can achieve maximum occupancy at the optimal price. With today's technology, this is attainable, highlighting the significant importance of dynamic pricing in the industry. Dynamic pricing involves not only setting prices but also a comprehensive sales strategy, and adjusting various parameters such as minimum nights, room types, breakfast, and other services dynamically.

In your opinion, what are the most significant challenges that hotel revenue managers face in the current industry environment?

The environment is rapidly changing, and it requires appropriate strategies and continuous adjustment of dynamic parameters to keep up. This allows us to respond effectively to market and demand changes. I'm referring to both software and strategy. In the hotel industry, there are numerous variables to consider, including seasonality, political changes, geopolitical events, travel trends, and other tourism factors such as destination accessibility and popularity. It's imperative to consider all these factors and respond promptly. Therefore the adept use of technology becomes crucial for effectively addressing market changes.

As hotels reach a certain size, they must consider additional internal factors. For example, if occupancy exceeds 90%, it may be necessary to bring in more staff for breakfast service or cleaning. At this point, the price at which the last rooms are sold becomes crucial. So it's crucial for hotel revenue professionals to possess operational knowledge of hotel management. Ultimately the objective is to attain the best possible price while ensuring guest satisfaction.

The use of online travel agencies is also extremely important. Platforms like, Agoda, Hotelbeds, or Expedia operate differently from traditional travel agencies. Understanding the nuances of guest behavior, encompassing business travelers, individual bookings, and tourism trends, and adapting to them is key.

How do modern Revenue Management Systems (RMS) differ from traditional methods, where data is personally managed by a revenue manager? What benefits do hotels gain from each?

Time. The RMS saves a significant amount of time. We can analyse data faster, and more information is immediately available, speeding up the decision-making process. 

Recent developments allow for more pricing adjustments, although this remains complex. While modern RMSs can handle pricing, they may lack the ability to influence other dynamic factors. Basic RMS enables users to track incoming bookings, their sources, and prices, facilitating monitoring and price adjustments. The importance of these tools is on the rise.

From a reporting and evaluation standpoint, RMS proves highly valuable. While larger hotels must monitor more factors, a well-configured RMS is adaptable to hotels of any size. These systems require continuous fine-tuning and monitoring. Although data settings may remain constant, pricing adjustments need frequent modifications.

It's somewhat like robots on a production line. They need attention, and certain settings may need adjustment as various variables can influence daily operations. Despite automating many manual functions, understanding the background processes and knowing how to alter parameters when necessary is crucial.

While more efficient outcomes are attainable, the human element remains vital. An RMS empowers a revenue manager to oversee multiple hotels, primarily saving time. However, it requires careful attention, and configuring the system can be time-consuming.

What are the primary concerns of hotel operators, particularly small and medium-sized businesses, when contemplating the adoption of an RMS?

This is a complex issue. Some might think that if they introduce a new system, it will handle pricing and everything else on its own. However, the RMS is a tool for the revenue or sales manager to enhance pricing efficiency, request reports, and monitor bookings.

The RMS helps to understand bookings and aids in reporting better. However, using RMS in pricing involves a risk factor for every company. It's designed to increase revenue, but the question is whether it will surpass previous levels. The initial phase is essentially a trial period that could have negative outcomes. Even if results are positive, they may not necessarily be solely attributed to the RMS, with the real impact only becoming apparent after the trial period. For larger hotels, the complexity of the required RMS software increases, and a more sophisticated system tends to be more expensive. The question in this case is about the Return On Investment. Will it bring back as much as hiring an employee? Everything depends on the strategy. While there are affordable RMSs worth trying, continuous monitoring of data and settings is imperative for optimal results.

In my view, no RMS can replace staff entirely. It should be regarded as a tool purchased for the hotel, sales manager, or outsourced revenue management, emphasising its supportive role.

What are the primary factors that influence a hotel's revenue?

Several crucial aspects come into play in hotel revenue management. Foremost among them is ensuring the correct pricing, as it directly impacts bookings. Understanding the market is equally vital. This involves analysing competitors, tracking market trends, scrutinising micro and macroeconomic factors, and staying attuned to local specifics and events. Moreover, closely monitoring bookings across various periods is essential. While these constitute the fundamentals, a hotel's workforce must also adeptly manage many other considerations beyond these basics.

How does the data obtained from revenue management help hotel owners in making informed decisions?

In brief, breaking down revenue and average occupancy on a monthly basis offers owners a more precise perspective on achievable income. This provides more information for cost calculations, making it easier to understand and plan the complete operation of the hotel.

How does using SabeeApp enhance your work and contribute to the field of revenue management?

SabeeApp greatly facilitates quick responses in pricing and monitoring occupancy trends. Owners can easily check bookings and occupancy, even on their smartphones. It is well-organised and supports automation, making it easier for us to set up, build, and manage them in their full complexity. SabeeApp is cloud-based, up-to-date, and meets today's technological expectations, while being user-friendly. Its pivotal role in pricing and occupancy monitoring is complemented by its support for managing distribution channels through the Channel Manager. In the field of revenue management, this is an essential technological tool. Beyond professionals in revenue management, it proves highly useful for owners, receptionists, and managers, offering a clear view of reporting and booking trends. Its exceptional functionality makes it a valuable asset for various roles within the hotel’s management. 

faska gabor

Gábor Fáska

Reflecting on your nearly two decades of experience, how have you effectively monitored and optimised prices to remain competitive?

Continuous learning and a willingness to embrace new technological developments are paramount. I read a lot about the topic, actively seeking out new software to explore. There are many technological innovations, and we frequently engage with them, occasionally even participating as developers. We constantly observe what could be very useful in the future and what might be less so.

We were the first company to connect RMS and Property Management Systems in Hungary. A decade ago most hotels manually entered reservations , but now, with a PMS such as SabeeApp, this process is automated. I find immense satisfaction in being among the first to try out innovations, test new software, and occasionally contribute to its creation and professional support.

There are many new tools and solutions, and it's crucial to discern which ones will prove useful in the long run and align with the right direction. It requires careful selection, which takes a lot of time, but when you find a good solution, it significantly simplifies things going forward.

At Solvatory, we remain open to new solutions, striving for innovation across various areas. Our consistent engagement with international firms is coupled with channeling our energy into optimisation efforts. Whether introducing a new Property Management System (PMS) or tools that enhance daily operations, we prioritise remaining open to possibilities.

Based on your experience, what would be your top 3 suggestions for revenue/hotel managers who want to maximise their resources?

The first is identifying the right sales strategy tailored specifically to the property. This involves determining the most effective approach to selling and presenting the property on various sales platforms.

The second is to be willing to adapt and make changes. Given the rapid changes in the market, industry, and overall environment, it's essential to continuously explore and try out new solutions.

The third is not to hesitate to seek expert advice. Regardless of your role - as a director, salesperson, or owner - reaching out for assistance is a valuable option. While some establishments may initially be hesitant about outsourced solutions, like the ones provided by our company, we observe positive changes occurring more rapidly when they embrace openness and seek external support. Whether it's launching a hotel or adjusting sales strategy, our assistance enables quick responses to these challenges, offering solutions and guidance.


Thorough findings

Thanks to Gábor Fáska for the detailed answers and professional insights, which strongly underscore the necessity of revenue management and professionals in every accommodation establishment. If you'd like to read more about revenue management, feel free to explore our other articles!

In the upcoming weeks and months, we are gearing up to present more captivating professional interviews for you. Acknowledging the value of professionals' insights and experience, we are committed to providing abundant in-depth discussions within the hotel and property management field.

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