One Small Step for Leadership at the Moonrise Hotel
With a skeleton staff, the GM at this hip St. Louis boutique hotel is stretched thin. Implementing Wave and relying on SHR’s services team to set the revenue strategy means there’s one less thing he has to worry about.
Moonrise Hotel in the hip Loop district of St. Louis is unique in nearly every way possible. It’s a fully independent hotel – no management company or brand affiliation – boasting modern aesthetics and quirky sophistication, all lunar-themed, and capped off by a giant moon structure that sits atop the building’s exterior.
But despite all its distinct characteristics, Moonrise is dealing with the same post-pandemic trials that many of its peer hotels are experiencing. The hotel managed to stay relatively busy throughout COVID – securing a contract to host nearby Washington University students from September 2020 through May 2021 as the school’s dorms were limited in their capacity. But then in June, when the students left and the hotel opened its doors to the public again, leadership found themselves in what seems to be a recurring scenario: They needed to ramp staff but found very few interested applicants.
Like most hotels, COVID forced the Moonrise to furlough or lay off almost everyone at the property level. The hotel’s on-site restaurant, the Eclipse, closed its doors to the public. A few staff members stayed on to help service the college students, but there was little need for a sales team, marketing team or revenue management department. So when it came time to welcome transient guests again, leadership was starting over from scratch.
Limited housekeeping staff meant Moonrise had to put some rooms out of order, which affected occupancy. This meant they had to rely on rate to drive RevPAR and profitability. But with no revenue management team, they weren’t able to react to shifts in demand fast enough. So when GM Jake Wescott caught wind that SHR provided outsourced revenue management services in addition to the Wave RMS platform, he thought it might just be the right fit.
Automation is Key
With limited staff, today Wescott finds himself doing everything from cleaning rooms to working the front desk. So he needed a revenue system that would react automatically to changes in demand and push rates dynamically to the PMS and CRS without human oversight.
Moonrise implemented SHR’s Wave RMS in May 2021 and contracted with SHR’s services team to oversee a more innovative and agile revenue strategy.
“The software runs on its own, which makes it easier for me,” Wescott said recently. “We used to look at our competitors’ rates twice a day and it would be a while before we could make adjustments. Now, the system is constantly monitoring reservations and adjusting accordingly.”
Wave allows Moonrise to be more precise with its pricing strategy as well. Before, management believed that every rate had to end in 9 – $129, $149, $169, for example. Now they can increase rates by as little as a dollar or two, which makes a big difference in overall profitability.
They’ve also become more strategic and dynamic with room-type pricing. Moonrise offers single king rooms, double queens, whirlpool tub suites and what they call “Walk of Fame” suites. Before Wave, different rooms types were set with standard differentials – there was a base price for the double queens and king rooms were $10 more, and pricing increased or decreased in lockstep. Now, each room type is yielded based on occupancy and demand for that individual style of room.
“Sometimes our queen rates will end up being $25 more than the king, depending on what type of traveler is booking the hotel,” Wescott said.
Reporting has become simpler, too. Just last month, Wescott had to provide some performance metrics to a bank. Whereas previously he would spend time pulling and compiling reports from the PMS and CRS, this time he was able to get everything he needed quickly from Wave.
“I was able to show them the dashboard and pull a couple reports with the click of a button,” he said.
Finally, SHR’s services team has pushed Wescott and the team at Moonrise to take a closer look at their distribution mix and they’ve now embarked on a process to drive more business to their direct channels. He said they’re moving away from static-rate wholesalers – “they deliver the guests that have the most complaints,” Wescott said – and driving guests to channels where they can be more dynamic with their rates.
“We'll have dates where we're sold out and we have to sell our last five or six rooms through wholesalers at a discounted rate that we contracted a year ago,” Wescott said. “SHR’s team has helped us determine smarter ways to shift that demand to our own channels.”
Proof is in the Pudding
“The biggest thing for me is the time it saves,” Wescott says of Wave and the SHR services team. “I’m trying to do three other jobs, juggling other management roles that have gone unfilled, and the automation with Wave has been great.”
Wescott said he’s confident in his SHR account manager to set the appropriate strategy. “She knows Wave and she can work with it, and it’s one less thing we have to worry about,” he said. “Wave is amazing and so is everyone on the SHR team. They’re all really good at what they do.”
Click here to learn more about Wave RMS.