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OpenHotel Blog
Interview with an OTA Guru, Peter Coleman
To view the video version, visit the OpenHotel YouTube channel - https://youtu.be/-myWKxDuTrw

Michelle (00:00):

Hello, and welcome to another OpenHotel video and podcast. Today I'm going to be drinking coffee and talking to Peter Coleman. Peter is an OTA guru and implementation manager at OpenHotel and we're going to find out everything he knows about OTAs. So let's get started.

Michelle (00:38):

Hey, Peter. How are you?

Peter (00:42):

Wonderful.

Michelle (00:43):

Good. I'm having a cup of coffee because it's been a busy day and I need a little kick.

Peter (00:51):

Wish I drank it.

Michelle (00:53):

You don't drink coffee?

Peter (00:55):

The only person who ever worked in the hotel business that didn't drink coffee.

Michelle (00:58):

I think this is true. I think you're already an outsider. Today I just want to chit chat and find out, a little bit about you and about some of the things you do. But rather than you describing what you do, how would your mom or your dad, if they were around, describe what you do.

Peter (01:28):

I think they would think I was a hotel guidance counselor. So that's kind of what it seems like quite often. So that's how they view it.

Michelle (01:43):

Well, you know what, that's a pretty good job.

Peter (01:47):

And this every day is different and I enjoy them all.

Michelle (01:52):

So, let's get a little more involved in that. Now you tell us what you do.

Peter (02:00):

I coordinate the integrations of the channel manager, part of the OpenHotel program with the Expedia or booking.com or go to whatever account that they have. Setting them up with the channel managers so that the rate plans in the PMS coordinate with those channels. The channel manager coordinates the inventory and rates. So that's all one seamless platform.

Michelle (02:31):

So then do you also, I assume troubleshoot or you give advice or,

Peter (02:38):

Yeah. Like I said before, every day is different and every day presents some type of challenge, which is fun. It's different that that I think is one of the best parts of my job every day is different. It's just, there's everyday people find a way to step the wrong way or, or are looking for a way of trying to do some things better and if I can assist them with that, that's great.

Michelle (03:10):

That's great. So how long have you been with OpenHotel?

Peter (03:15):

Five and a half years now.

Michelle (03:17):

Really?

Peter (03:18):

Yeah. Yeah. It seems like five and a half months, times go by way too fast.

Michelle (03:24):

How long have you known me?

Peter (03:28):

Oh my God. 20 years plus. We're aging ourselves? I heard that we were both 12 when we met.

Michelle (03:38):

That's right. I think it's 23 years now.

Peter (03:44):

Yeah. It's been awhile. Yeah,

Michelle (03:48):

Peter was around when we started.

Peter (03:52):

We were just talking about that yesterday though. The the first office that I remember.

Michelle (03:58):

Yeah. We'll have to go into that story more on another podcast. So so tell us how you got your job. I know cause I was there,

Peter (04:10):

But you were there. The word that comes to mind is serendipity. You were 2000 miles away from home and I ran into you in a local hotel motel association meeting, and you said, what are you doing? I said, well, this is where I'm now, but I'm burnt. I'm leaving. You were like, well, how about you and your wife we meet for dinner tonight. Let's talk. So, and then that was the beginning. And it does seem like it was five and a half months ago. So,

Michelle (04:42):

I still remember standing in line at that hotel motel meeting. I mean, when you said you were burnt, I almost got goosebumps. I mean, I knew right then. It was so exciting. So how did you get into the hotel industry?

Peter (05:06):

When I was 13 going on 14, my parents bought a hotel and it started off as more of a country inn, local Tavern restaurant. And ended up being for good reasons it became more of a nightclub and a full service restaurant and less of hotel facility. But that's, how I grew into it if you will. You do everything from scrubbing pots and pans to running the restaurant to the nightclub and you kind of go from there.

Michelle (05:46):

Yeah. Being a hotelier teaches, you how to make a bed regardless of what your position is in the hotel.

Peter (05:54):

Yes. When you, when you go to college and you go to the hotel school, it might be a very nice hotel school, but everybody, all your buddies say, well, what kind of hospital corner did you learn today? You know, that's the thing. But the hotel industry is such a, a varied, there's so many different aspects of it. It's such a varying field of psychology and accounting. And there's so many things that so many moving parts, but it's very interesting.

Michelle (06:30):

So you've been here five and a half years. So what is your favorite thing about the job besides the wonderful people who work with.

Peter (06:42):

Yes. Beyond the wonderful people that I work with, which is fun. I swear. It really is. Our zoom meetings, staff meetings are a blast. But it's that variety I spoke of yesterday. I've spoken of a few minutes ago combined with like letting customers know about aspects of the OpenHotel program that they have, that they didn't know they could utilize. And when they go, oh man, like it's something we just introduced yesterday and it's something they've had the ability to do for years. It kind of surprised me, but that's very fulfilling when they go, wow, this is fantastic. This is going to change how I do business. That's a big plus,

Michelle (07:35):

Even though, I mean, we have so much training and so much documentation, there's so much you can do, you know, each piece of it, but it's, you know, nobody knows it all except for you guys.

Peter (07:49):

True.

Michelle (07:50):

As a follow-up to, that was the worst part.

Peter (07:59):

I would normally say the worst part is, is sometimes there are folks that don't take advantage of things they have, and they don't take advantage of in documentation that you just mentioned. But you know, they have to there's just so much there in our support portal, the videos the, the articles, blogs it's just, it's a tremendous, and when they, it's, it's a little bit frustrating sometimes when they ask a question, you think, wow, now you're missing out. You're missing out on something that can assist you, but you need to take a look, look into it.

Michelle (08:41):

So what let's talk about the OTAs for a minute. What do you think is the biggest thing they miss out on the OTAs? I mean, OTAs are a love/hate. Everybody loves and hates them.

Peter (08:57):

Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. It's, it's when there are times when we're trying to educate our clients about opportunities that people may have, and it is a love hate because it gets expensive, but they have to take advantage. You have to be kind of shrewd and use the OTAs. You're paying for that. You want to use them to the best ability that you can get the, get the most advertising buck out of it. And then hopefully turn those sales around and get them to book direct. But it's a challenge sometimes because it is a love, hate relationship. And if you have empty rooms, there's no reason to have vacant rooms. There's no reason not to do a discount or as long as you're not getting to the point where the OTA is making more money than you are.

Peter (09:58):

If you're making some money and the room sits empty, that's it. I learned a very long time ago. I had a gentlemen, a boss saying to me, the most expendable thing in the world is the hotel room. You didn't sell last night. It just, you've never got another chance to sell that room. So you got to kind of take advantage of every opportunity. And then when you know, you're going to sell, then you, you don't until, you know, you, you control the inventory. And our system is very good at controlling inventory for when you want to sell it. I just get out of a training telling them, explaining that to some folks that that's, you want to give the OTAs inventory for when you want to sell, when you need that.

Michelle (10:52):

And that's one of the things you do, a lot of. You work with individual clients on getting them to understand different strategies and things to optimize. Because you can't sell tonight's room tomorrow, just it's gone, you know, like broken eggs whatever you want to call it.

Peter (11:18):

Lost opportunity.

Michelle (11:21):

And you know, that's one of the reasons we get so many incredible comments about you is because you've been in the hotel business for every type of property. I mean, independents and corporates.

Peter (11:38):

Condos a lot. It's been, it's been a varied ca.

Michelle (11:41):

You understand the pain, you know, and, you know, you're so willing to help. So so what is the biggest challenge you think you face? Probably what you just talked about?

Peter (12:01):

And I, I think we have great tools to have them rate plans. And Yield Management, that was the training I just provided a little while ago. When I used the system, I use the some very basic form years ago and I used it for rate plans for just our own website at the time. Never mind all the bells and whistles we have now. I used it to great success. I people patted me on the back for great job and all this kind of good stuff, but I was just using the tool of the rate plan. Now we have rate plans that are even more robust. We have Yield management, you have the rate availability overview report, which is valid to you. That is now my favorite. You can look at that and see what you're doing when you're doing it and what maybe next move needs to be. And it's very exciting in a geeky way. I'm sounding very geeky, but I get passionate about rate plans and being able to look in the rate availability, overview report and see, I see an opportunity. It's 30 days down the road, or it might be 60 days down the road, and I can make a change now in increased length of stay or rate whatever, but take advantage of an opportunity to make more money and bring more to the bottom dollar.

Michelle (13:43):

One of my favorite reports, the pace report, I know that that is geeky, too.

Peter (13:50):

And whenever I had a staff meetings, first report that was brought out on the table for everybody was pace report. So that's huge.

Michelle (14:00):

How many pace reports did we do together?

Peter (14:03):

Oh, a lot. A lot. That was the first one first report that went into any meetings was the pace report. That was it. Yeah. And that's something I've hung onto for many, many years.

Michelle (14:17):

Actually, if you're a destination market or you're an event area, you know, Critical,

Peter (14:30):

That's where that's where the rate plans came into play. So much in that you don't have to do it now because we have other tools to use. And I used to have rate plans for Sunday through Thursday and went from Friday and Saturday because I had a different length of stay on Friday and Saturday. Different rates. It was, it was, it was again, very successful for both the property and manager at the time. I think you remember. And the ultimately it just was wonderful and now it's so much more robust. There's so much more you can do. And so many more tweaks that you can make. It's odd today that I did both the training and have like a mini training for a long time customer this morning. And he was, he was using the rate plans in a very positive way. And there were a couple of little tweaks and he was like, cool. Now we've got it adjusted the way we want. They have to stay these days higher rate. Perfect.

Michelle (15:38):

So if somebody was coming into the hotel business, what would you suggest? Any words of wisdom?

Peter (15:54):

People hear your smile when you're talking to people on the phone, they hear whether or not you're smiling. And I've had a lot of reservation staff team that were like, really? I'm like, I'm serious. They hear you smile. I always want to see smiles on your faces because they can hear it. People hear you smile. So when you deal with people, you got to,  it's a positivity. So keep that in mind. Cause it's that the hotel industry, the hospitality industry is hospitality. You have to, that's what we're there for. That's what we have to do.

Michelle (16:34):

That's literally the name of our game. Right.

Peter (16:36):

It is.

Michelle (16:40):

If you couldn't be in hospitality, what, what would you do? You can't retire and you can't go play with your grand babies. So,

Peter (16:51):

Yeah. Cause that's my favorite pastime right now. I've always had a desire to be a deep sea diver or a professional diver with some ear issues for the past number of years of my short life. I haven't been able to dive as much as, or at all, but it is a different world and you know what, there's no phones, there's no pagers, there's no buzzers. The only thing in there is the noisy shrimp and the boats above. So I think that's what I'd like to do.

Michelle (17:33):

You say that because of my fish tank?

Peter (17:35):

No. No. Let me tell you, you you'd never believe how noisy shrimp are. They really are. They're like the crickets at night now.

Michelle (17:46):

Yeah. So okay, so back to OpenHotel. What is the biggest changes you've seen in the last five and a half years

Peter (18:00):

At OpenHotel?

Michelle (18:04):

The industry let's pick on the industry?

Peter (18:07):

I think the industry has been a little bit more savvy about OTAs. I think there's always been a need to use them as best you can for advertising purposes, which is what they will come to you and say, you know, Hey, we're going to advertise your property. That's why you want to do business with us. I think there's a greater understanding of what the OTAs can do and how to utilize them as a tool to generate more revenue. For OpenHotel, I would definitely say innovation because there's the programming, just the tools. I think the best word is that the tools that we now have to use and now at our fingertips I, I always, you mentioned pace, but rate availability, overview report, you have the ability to see what's going on. What's going to happen.

Peter (19:09):

What business have you can change rates on the fly. You can change inventory, length of stay. You can shut rooms down if you're down to your last couple of rooms and you know, you're going to sell them, you can close out the inventory on your OTAs and sell them yourselves. Just the different tools. That's just one of them. Rate plans have changed. There's, there's more that you can do with them. There's more reporting. I think the reporting is for, for other people that might be the biggest change for clients. Again, I geek out a little bit when I talk about rate plans and rate availability and the yield manager but the tools that are there and the reporting, I think reporting is for the clients. That's one of the biggest changes, one of the so much to do

Michelle (20:03):

And, to pick up on a point you made with the yield management, I think the fact that you can automatically close out the OTA automatically - close out everything except har is just like, that's just amazing.

Peter (20:26):

Yeah. I mentioned that I right before this, I was doing a training and I was showing these young ladies, a few different properties and the, the use of yield manager at each property. And in one case, it was to close out the OTAs when each has a rule for each room type. And when they sell the second to last, the OTA closes out. At another property, it was to raise rates. There's so many different opportunities in that one tool to maximize revenue, either through selling only accepting sales that are directly through the booking engine on their own website. Or if it's a matter of just raising rates or both one property, it was both at 80%, no more on TKIs. We don't need them. We're going to sell the last few rooms ourselves. And by the way, those rooms rates are going to go up $45 a night. So there's, it's such a strong tool.

Michelle (21:35):

Yeah. You just, can't in today's market, you can't do that yourself. I mean, it's going to happen Friday night at 2:00 AM and you're not going to catch it till Monday morning.

Peter (21:45):

And I don't think hotels nowadays want to spend the money on salary, a revenue manager that can stand, sit around and look at those things. And, and again, this tool works for hotels. We have hotels that have 15 rooms and they have your manager and it helps them tremendously. We have hotels that have 115 rooms and it helps them as well. And it, it, it can do so much, not, no matter how big or small your property is Yield Management is something that's huge.

Michelle (22:21):

Yeah. I can feel your passion.

Peter (22:25):

Straight to the bottom dollar.

Michelle (22:27):

Here we go. Money to the bottom dollar. So one last thing, tell us something that someone might not know about you.

Peter (22:41):

They might know that I'm married, but they may not know that she's a very patient woman. Then grandbaby is not terrible news. That's a year and a half now. And getting to the point where he's tough to keep up with I'm a little sore for a couple of days after I spend eight hours with him. But that's that, and I think gardening is, is my fun. Well plants and whatnot in the backyard. So yeah, not a whole lot of pretty flowers. Although the bird of paradise right now are just going nuts this year.

Michelle (23:23):

You might mention that you are in Florida, I'm in Vegas. We're all over the place.

Peter (23:31):

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So your heat wave is nothing. I mean, I don't want to deal with that. I'll deal with the humidity in Florida.

Michelle (23:39):

I think it was 107 today, so the fall, but anyway, so now we know Peter and thank you, Peter, for joining us and thanks to all our viewers and listeners. If you have any suggestions for future topics, please leave them in the comments. If you're watching this on YouTube and enjoyed the video, we would appreciate your feedback and your big thumbs up. Links to our podcast version can be found in the video description below. Thanks again and see you next time.

Peter (24:17):

Have a good day. Bye.

 

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