In December, Clinton Campbell was awarded the HOSPA Revenue Management Professional of the Year award at the annual Awards. The Group Revenue Manager of Apex Hotels, we caught up with Clinton recently to hear a little more about his role within Apex, winning the award and predictions for the hospitality industry in 2013.
What is your area of expertise within the hospitality industry?
I have focused particularly on revenue management since 2008 when I was with IHG. Recently, with Apex Hotels, it has been the application of revenue in a commercially led environment that I have enjoyed most and is the direction I see myself headed.
How long have you worked in the hospitality industry? What has changed the most in the hospitality world since you started?
Including my time at Hotel School, (as 50% of our time was spent working in a hotel), it’s been 14 years. The last two years have been at Apex Hotels.
In this short time, the internet and systems have radically changed two big parts of our industry. The first, on the hotelier’s side, is the systems that we use for managing and distributing our rates. The OTA’s started playing a big part in our distribution from just after the turn of the century. We started to rely on these distributors and eventually channel managers became a vital piece of kit that most hotels need to help with the distribution in real time.
We also enrolled the support of Revenue Management Systems to help us in our daily processes, which are fully integrated with our PMS’s and CRS’s and can be accessed at anytime from anywhere with an internet connection.
Secondly, the way our customers are interacting with us and buying rooms has changed dramatically in the last decade. Using the OTA’s to buys rooms, and later travel comparison websites, customers have much more choice of hotels making the experience seem more transparent or easy. We know that it is not uncommon for a guest to visit multiple websites and review sites before actually making the choice to buy a room. In the last two years the use of mobile devices to book and explore hotels has risen incredibly. The application of revenue management has become more accepted in hotels by guests, yielding when there is demand and opportunity to do so.
How and why did you first get into the industry?
It was a bit of fate that I ended up in Hotel School. Towards the end of my schooling I had planned to study broadcasting in Johannesburg, South Africa. On a trip to take my older brother to the hotel school he was attending, I learned that he would be staying in a room at the luxurious five-star Royal Hotel in Durban, which is on the East coast and has average temperatures in winter above 15 Celsius. This was compared to what I was going to get in a dormitory style accommodation in Johannesburg. My mind was made up and I changed my course to Hotel Management and went to Durban for two years at the International Hotel School.
Staying in a hotel has its positives, but the novelty does wear off after a short while!
How does it feel to receive a HOSPA professional award? What does this accolade mean to you?
I was very honoured and proud to receive this award. It’s overwhelming when you realise how many potential candidates there are that could have been there.
To me it means that my work and passion for revenue management has been recognised by my colleagues and peers. It means that I must be doing it right (not necessarily perfect) and that I should continue in the same direction.
What trends will you be looking out for in the hospitality industry for 2013?
Mobile booking is going to get much bigger and busier than what it is at the moment and we need to be ready to react with the right strategy and pricing.
I think there is going to be a lot of focus on the distribution of rates and less on the constant changes in the actual rate – making it easier for guests.
I think there is going to be a stronger stance on the relationships with OTA’s, with the introduction of Roomkey.com and various announcements of chains cutting ties with particular OTA’s.
Do you use social media at work, or at home, and do you think the hospitality industry should adopt it?
Yes for all. Just like today when we ask ourselves about mobile phones, “How did we live without them?” I think social media will be in the same place in a few years, regardless of which platform. Hotels and the industry have the potential to reach thousands of people who have an interest in that product in seconds with offers, information or advice.
There are many that are doing it very well and have dedicated resource behind social media, which on a paper exercise might not show the benefits we would expect; but this will show return eventually.
If you could invent one thing to revolutionise the job you do, what would it be?
I would look at a piece of software that could combine all the current tools we use (PMS, CRS, RMS, reporting suites, Social media, customer reviews, OTA positioning) in to one place. I realise there are companies who claim to do all of these things, but I don’t know if they are best in class in every field.
Having all this data in one place, in real time would give us the opportunity to make more informed decisions, faster than before. At the moment you need to go to several different places and software like this would revolutionise revenue management.