Thought Leadership

Brandon Burtis interview

COVID-19 is the worst crisis the hotel industry has ever faced. While there is good reason to be optimistic with the national distribution of a vaccine travel, demand continues to lag normal levels, and current rates show a slow rebound for the industry. As such, everyone is more focused than ever before on every detail, every expense and every way to maximize revenue.

In the latest in a series, we caught up with Brandon Burtis, Corporate Director of Revenue at Pacifica Hotels who has been using the ROOMDEX upsell platform at two Pacifica hotels – Marina Del Rey Hotel, Venice CA and Inn at the Pier, Pismo Beach CA – to find out how upselling is helping hotels when industry rates and revenue are down.

So, Brandon, why ROOMDEX?

The reasons for our activation of ROOMDEX was twofold. The first reason was the automation and streamlining of the upsell process all the way to the PMS. This was new for us as experience with other upsell software was that it only ever got us half-way there. What I mean by that is that other solutions handle the guest facing piece but then on the operations side of things it’s just left as “Okay here’s an email. This is what somebody wants to book.” And then somebody needs to actually go and make sure that this happens in the PMS.

By contrast, ROOMDEX integrates all the way through the system. Our operations team doesn’t have to worry about a thing. They don’t have to worry about when a guest chooses an upgrade, that they get that upgrade and that it happens before we sell off that room that we had just sold to somebody else as an upgrade! So, it takes the guess-work out and just really streamlines the operations to a point where it’s pretty hands off – which is great.

The other big selling piece for us was the broadening of your audience that can be reached. A lot of other platforms that offer this type of service are limited in terms of what they can reach. For example, the guests who receive offers are only those who book directly through our website and have an email address on file.

With ROOMDEX Upgrade Optimizer, the offer goes out to any guest in the entire system that have an email address on file, regardless of whether they booked best available rates directly with us or booked through an online site like Expedia or In broadening our audience, it significantly upticks our potential for revenue capture.

Needless to say, COVID has driven rates are down as everyone fights for acquisition. What’s the revenue management perspective on securing ancillary revenue sources at this time?

As I mentioned, broadening that audience of who is receiving offers for ancillary sales is certainly a priority. We feel there are a lot of different touch points for guests along the way to be pitched an upgrade or early check-in or late check-out. And we certainly have seen an uptick of capture and conversion on these offers when compared with when we are trying to do it ourselves at the front desk directly at the point of check in.

For the two hotels that are currently using the system, we have tapped into to the room upgrades and the early check-in and late check-out. But we are looking forward to adding the capability to do additional ancillary services such as Food & Beverage credits, parking, bottle of champagne and fresh strawberries. These are ones that are regularly in high demand. My understanding is that ROOMDEX is working towards adding those kinds of features.

It seems like ROOMDEX is converting at better rates than what you might have been able to do on your own. What do you attribute the improved conversion of the system to?

I think a lot of it is the platform itself, the UI of and the experience on the consumer side. It’s very easy to navigate, it’s very image rich which, as we all know and say, a picture is worth a thousand words. When you are asking someone to spend potentially a $100 more a night to upgrade to a room, you need to have the images there to really sell it. The ROOMDEX platform certainly does a much better job of illustrating that, bringing that to the customers forefront and making the actual process of purchasing that much easier than some of the competitors out there in the space. And I just think customer have come to expect this idea of customizing their travel experiences. They are starting to want to upgrade their rooms just like they can with their flights.

You have ROOMDEX producing revenue in two hotels. Any plans to deploy it in your other properties?

We are currently working on setting it up in two additional hotels. They will be live with ROOMDEX in about a week, so very shortly we will have four hotels in total using the platform. We are in the process of changing the PMS for many of our independent hotels, so once they are moved to the StayNTouch PMS by mid-year, will get everyone onto ROOMDEX shortly thereafter. We know the summer season, especially with the pent-up demand, should be pretty good. There will be eager appetites from guests to upgrade to some of our premium rooms. Given our location of our hotels on the coast, there is a lot opportunity to upgrade to ocean view rooms across our hotels.

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