Xcentric Hotels is the master franchise holder of easyHotel in the Benelux and opened the first easyHotel in the Netherlands several years ago. But that’s not all - Xcentric has a knack of converting distinctive buildings into inspiring hospitality concepts that are located in urban hotspots, including their Maxhotel value brand. Currently there are establishments in Amsterdam, Zaandam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Brussels.
In the last few years the team has been transforming their tech stack and we spoke to Sonja Roos and the Revenue Management team about how they have gone about adapting their properties to stay ahead in the future.
Old school frustrations
“We switched our PMS to Apaleo for our Maxhotels back in 2019 mainly because of their open API, which in turn allowed us to plug into several great apps. Once we made the switch, we then started to look at all the revenue management systems out there. In the end, we looked at ten different systems and we scored each of them against a list of factors we needed. We narrowed it down to a shortlist of one legacy system and two newcomers including Pace. Ultimately, Pace scored the highest out of all of them.
“One major thing I’ve learnt thanks to Pace is that you don’t need a compset. In the end, it’s selling the rooms and demand that matters! So now my whole approach has changed.”
The other new RMS we looked at had no reporting or BI features so that ruled them out immediately. Meanwhile the legacy systems are always much the same. If you want to have something changed or adjusted you need to go through a painful process that takes a couple of months at least. The systems are just too big and complex. It’s so rules-based with no science behind it. What you manually put in is what you will get out so, basically, it’s not adding much value.
Pace is more like Artifical Intelligence (AI). The system thinks for itself and sets the prices according to demand instead of doing things crudely and manually based on what you put in all the time.”
“The onboarding with Pace was great - it’s really quick and you get good support. To give you an idea - our first property was done in a couple of days. The second took no more than a week.
On top of that, the training for Pace is just an hour or two. With the legacy systems training takes days and afterwards you still don’t understand how it all works. And, as I just mentioned, the support is great with Pace so that helps with learning how everything works. I use the chat function a lot and the team always replies quickly. With other systems they often ask you to put stuff on a ‘wishlist’ and then you just have to wait and hope other frustrated users upvote the same issue to get it fixed…”
“In the beginning, I was scared of all the ‘automation’. The price recommendations were so high - sometimes €10 or €20 above what I was expecting! But then we did a test over one weekend to see if the higher pricing would sell and the results were great. We’re fully booked and during lockdown we were also fully booked! Occupancy held up and that’s despite not having any restaurants! So now we’ve started increasing the amount of automation with Pace.
One major thing I’ve learnt thanks to Pace is that you don’t need a compset. To be honest, in the beginning I was a bit wary to not price off of a compset. Normally I would never price my hotel above most others, particularly as we are a one star offering. For example, with Pace my one star hotel was being priced above a local three star property sometimes! Using my old logic, that was not normal but then Pace sells! In the end, it’s selling the rooms and demand that matters! So now my whole approach has changed - I used to check STR every week but now I do just once a month. This is totally the opposite to what the other vendors are up to - they are so focused on compsets that, in fact, it seems that is all that matters to their algorithms.”
“Pace has full analytics and native business intelligence so I was able to quickly start building my own reports. I can build any report I want in seconds. Pickup this year vs last year. ADR. RevPAR. I like to see a nice split of my channels. Or compare ADR per channel. Average length of stay. Lead time. With Pace I can build whatever I want…
I now have automated pickup reports being generated daily which all helps to save hours of time every week that would normally have been wasted doing things manually every day. We’ve got well over a dozen reports and dashboards that we’ve built and many of those are scheduled daily.
And compare that to the legacy players where everything is so manual! All reports have to be manually generated and sent on to Excel. We were doing this every day! And it’s often not even possible to report as a group of properties. It’s one by one…and always too complex!”