Could robots kill revenue management?

Revenue management, as a career, is a relatively nascent one. Yet, could it be killed off by highly intelligent robots that can run algorithms quickly, blindly and at the flick of switch?

In our opinion, there will always be the need for human experience and the abilities of technology to work together. Big data is currently evolving pricing and buyer behaviour instantaneously. With the computing power now available, billions of pieces of information that build trends, data and insights are now at the fingertips of general managers, directors of revenue and the revenue management team. So, if you consider a hotel group with multiple venues within its portfolio, this is a huge amount of available data. Technological innovation is happening – and fast. With it comes social, technological, political and economic ramifications.

Computers are not yet, arguably, in the position to make the best decisions – especially when it comes to pricing – for hotels. They can use their massive processing power, but can they do what’s best for the hotel in line with strategy? Arguably not. Also, is there enough evidence yet to prove categorically that human gut feel and instinct is redundant against the power or the computer?

Many industries are getting in a twist about the role of robots. Let’s face it, it’s not ‘if’ they are rolled out universally, but ‘when’. Already we’ve seen menial, repetitive jobs being taken over by robots in other sectors, furthermore, other more labour-intensive jobs have used robots for decades – car production for example. No one in this latter industry has complained vehemently about the quality of workmanship or the quantity of the product being available for us to buy – even trade unions embrace their innovation. However, they are still guided by good old humans. There are still some things androids just can’t do.

With more and more software flooding the market for hotels to use, this is aimed at collaboration between operators and the data being processed. Hotels, airlines and car hire firms absolutely have to continually invest in their IT infrastructure to ensure they are secure and also can process bookings, data and insight in a more automated way, yet the revenue management and business analysts will still be required for a considerable time yet.

At our next MRK Associates revenue management roundtable event, we are going to ask the leaders and directors of revenue management their view on the application of technology and its future impact. Fun times ahead!



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