The Price Is Always Right

Marriott applied its business wisdom to building an IT system that has successfully tackled its greatest challenge -- maximizing revenue.

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The prototyping of key modules began even before work on a pilot version of the system-back when the business case was being developed. As a result, "a lot of things other projects would have encountered during rollout, or even during a pilot, we avoided," Williams says, such as reports that took five minutes to run when they should have taken five seconds.

The prototyping meant a two-month delay in the ultimate rollout date, but it wasn't hard for Whitridge to sell this to Williams. "If that two months makes the rollout [happen in] four months instead of two years, that's a great ROI," Whitridge says.

A New Way to Train Users

When it came to training users, the One Yield team also decided to take a different tack. In the past, users had to go offsite for training, which took them away from their jobs for a minimum of two days and required Marriott to find and pay for facilitators and space. To train users on One Yield, the team built instructional materials into the system and allowed users to train themselves to use the features they needed most. Users adapted to One Yield more easily, and thus enabled Marriott to get value from the system more quickly.

But they didn't stop there. It's standard practice at Marriott properties for the staff to meet for 15 minutes each day to review some element of training, such as how to anticipate a customer's needs. The One Yield team took their cue from that practice and built what they call "training energizers" into the system. Vereb monitors the usage of the One Yield, and if there's a feature that doesn't seem to be getting enough use or that people are having trouble with, he'll provide one of these training energizers via the One Yield main menu to help the revenue manager brush up on that skill online.

Wilson says that the continuous training on One Yield is critical to achieving enterprise value. "The sustainable advantage we'll get from this system will come from the fact that we've created an environment that ensures that our people will be better trained than the competition."

Ongoing Value

One Yield continues to add value to Marriott's bottom line as users become more experienced with it and suggest new ways to apply it. For instance, the data generated by One Yield has led to a corporatewide management metric called inventory effectiveness, which measures the ratio of actual revenue to optimal revenue. One Yield has helped to improve Marriott's ratio of actual revenue to optimal revenue from 83 percent to 91 percent. (For more about enhancements to One Yield, see "Users Add Value to One Yield," this page.)

Meanwhile, one-third more properties than expected are getting revenue management religion. Franchisees and general managers who never wanted a revenue management system are signing up as One Yield users. At a meeting of general managers recently, Vereb says he witnessed new enthusiasm for the practice because of the system. "I saw general managers taking each other by the hand and running over to the One Yield booth saying, You gotta see this; you need this.

Fargo, N.D.-based Tharaldson Lodging, which operates 355 properties for several hospitality companies, plans to move all of its Marriott properties onto the One Yield system. "Our Marriott-flagged hotels using One Yield are outperforming those that are not." says Aimee Fyke, Tharaldson's vice president of operations.

Many revenue management systems operated by other hospitality companies are still run at individual properties (as Marriott's legacy DFS and RMS were) and aren't integrated with their central reservation systems. One Yield ups the pressure for other hotel companies to create similar enterprisewide systems.

At Marriott, the more properties that sign up for One Yield, the more value it will continue to bring. Concludes Williams: "One Yield is the platform for our future business strategy."

Users Add Value To One Yield

By Stephanie Overby

Process for vetting features aligns system with needs

Since the rollout of One Yield in April 2003, ideas for enhancements have streamed in from all areas of the company. Most suggestions come from the Market Board, a worldwide group of 25 One Yield users representing different job functions who meet every month via teleconference and two or three times a year in person.

"We run ideas by them, ask them about the revenue management problems they're trying to solve, get usability feedback," explains Nell Williams, Marriott's vice president of revenue management transformation and systems strategy. Her team prioritizes the ideas based on their potential ROI, then creates business cases for the most valuable suggestions. And because One Yield is Web-based, new functionality rarely takes more than a couple of months to deploy.

One of the most significant enhancements has been to the Total Hotel Calendar, which can now be applied to hotels' meeting and catering businesses. This was something Samantha Nasr, director of inventory management, who oversees revenue managers responsible for 20 hotels in Northern Virginia, had been dying for. She can now look a month down the road and easily see that there's a weekend when she needs to fill some rooms and that a couple of ballrooms also happen to be available. A quick call to sales, and she offers a free dinner incentive to the first salesperson to book a group for that night. The rooms and the conference rooms are filled, and revenue shoots up.


Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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