'E-Commerce Summit' showcases strategies to help tourism revenue managers optimize profits

An E-Commerce Summit organized by ASU’s School of Community Resources and Development provided Phoenix-area hotel and resort revenue managers the opportunity to share best practices, understand new trends and innovations, and gain fresh insights into addressing key challenges in the industry. 

Using a high-energy “speed dating” format, the summit connected members of the Phoenix Area Revenue Managers (PARM) group with regional representatives from six leading e-commerce vendors in the travel and tourism industry through rapid-fire six-minute interviews and one-on-one meetings.

The event, held Feb. 27 at the Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino in Phoenix, attracted 42 professionals from 21 Valley hotels and resorts Valley-wide. The participating vendors included Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, Booking.Com, Travel Click and Living Social.

“You really can learn and expose a lot in six minutes,” said Jennie Yates, revenue manager with the Millennium Hotel in Scottsdale. “There is a lot to talk about and the (summit’s) 'speed dating' theme kept it fun and casual.”

“This was such a wonderful program, as I finally met my Travelocity manager and was introduced to Living Social and Travel Click managers,” Yates added.

Coordinated by Timothy Tyrrell, a professor in the School of Community Resources and Development with ASU’s College of Public Programs, PARM was organized and began meeting regularly in 2010 to promote the development of revenue management professionalism in the Valley. The organization also aims to identify internship and employment opportunities in revenue management for college students. Participation in PARM requires no dues or fees and relies entirely on the growing enthusiasm of area professionals.

“It is invaluable to have key vendors within the industry all in one room,” said Matt Kahler, revenue manager with the Wild Horse Pass regarding his participation in the summit. “The quick meetings with vendors were a great way to talk quickly about your current production against the market and things that you could be doing to increase production. I also found the event to be a great way to talk amongst my peers to get a feel of how the industry as a whole is doing.”

First developed for the airlines, revenue management has now become a mainstay of the hospitality industry.

“Over the past 10 years, revenue managers have emerged as principle players in decisions made by hospitality industry businesses,” Tyrrell said. “They are the experts who make daily operational pricing, distribution and inventory management decisions that translate directly into profits or losses for their companies.”

Tyrrell, an economist by training, joined ASU in 2005 and has studied and taught tourism economics for more than 30 years. With the help of his local revenue management mentors, Tyrrell said his recent focus on revenue management inspired him to create the PARM organization, pursue several research studies on the topic, and introduce an ASU upper division course in “Sustainable Revenue Management.”

“These activities embody the notion that the tourism industry has great potential to serve the community and help fuel the local economy,” Tyrrell said.