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PRICING
I- Establishing Room Rates:
The front office manager shall assign to each room category a rack rate. In accordance, front office employees are expected to sell rooms at rack unless a guest qualifies for an alternative room rate (ex: corporate or commercial rate, group rate, promotional rate, incentive rate, family rate, day rate, package plan rate, complementary rate…).
While pricing rooms, the hotel shall keep in mind that rate should be between a minimum (determined by cost structure) and a maximum (determined by competition structure) boundary as depicted below:
Minimum (Hurdle Rate) < Room Rate < Maximum (Rack Rate)
Cost Structure < Room Rate < Competition Structure
While establishing room rates, management shall be careful about its operating costs, inflationary factors, and competition. Generally, there are three popular approaches to pricing rooms:
Cost Approach
Market Condition Approach
Rule-of-thumb Approach
Hubbart formula Approach
1. Cost Approach:
This Approach’s starting Point is on finding the Per Room occupied daily Direct and Indirect Expenses.
Consider the Following Example:
Jamel Hotel has estimated the Following Indirect Expenses (i.e. Undistributed Expenses and Fixed Charges) for the upcoming Year:
Expense Type |
Amount |
Allocation to Rooms Division |
Rooms Division Expense |
Administrative & General Expenses |
$ 500,000 |
30 % |
$ 150,000 |
Utility Expenses |
$ 260,000 |
70 % |
$ 182,000 |
Debt Expenses |
$ 300,000 |
70 % |
$ 210,000 |
Depreciation Expenses |
$ 350,000 |
60 % |
$ 210,000 |
Rent Expenses |
$ 100,000 |
70 % |
$ 70,000 |
Marketing Expenses |
$ 65,000 |
80 % |
$ 52,000 |
Maintenance Expenses |
$ 140,000 |
70 % |
$ 98,000 |
Insurance Expenses |
$ 100,000 |
70 % |
$ 70,000 |
TOTAL |
$ 1,815,000 |
N/A |
$ 1,042,000 |
Furthermore, suppose that Jamel Hotel has 150 Rooms (90 of them are single and the remaining are double) and that the Forecasted Single Room Occupancy Rate is 80 % and the Double Room Occupancy Rate is 85 %.
Answer:
Total Number of Expected Single Rooms Sold per Year = 90 * 0.80 * 365 = 26,280 Rooms.
Total Number of Expected Double Rooms Sold per Year = 60 * 0.85 * 365 = 18,615 Rooms
Daily per Room Indirect Expenses = $ 1,042,000 / (26,280 + 18,615) = $ 23.21.
Moreover, suppose that Jamel Hotel estimated the following daily per room Operating Expenses (i.e. Direct Expenses):
Frills Expenses (Single): $ 7.5
Frills Expenses (Double): $ 8.25
Staff Expenses (Single): $ 8
Staff Expenses (Double): $ 9
Laundry Expenses (Single): $ 6.5
Laundry Expenses (Double): $ 7.25
Total Single Daily per room Direct Expense = $ 7.5 + $ 8 + $ 6.5 = $ 22
Total Double Daily per Room Direct Expense = $ 8.25 + $ 9 + $ 7.25 = $ 24.5
Total Daily Single Room Expense = $ 23.21 + $ 22 = $ 45.21 (Hurdle Rate)
Total Daily Double Room Expense = $ 23.21 + $ 24.5 = $ 47.71 (Hurdle Rate)
Determining Rack Rate:
The answer found above is the minimum price of Single and Double rooms as to have no loss or profit from our operations! This condition is refereed to as the Break-Even price!
In order to find the rack rate (i.e. the maximum price potential guests can be charged), the hotel shall apply some of the above-mentioned methods:
Multiplier Method:
Under this very method, hotels shall try to set a Multiplier, by which the Room Cost shall be multiplied, in order to come up with the hotel Room Rack Rate (for each room type):
Multiplier = 1 / (Desired Room Cost Percentage)
Desired Room Cost Percentage = (Forecasted Total Room Cost) / (Forecasted Total Room Revenue)
Suppose that Jamel Hotel’s Management decided, prior to a certain price demand analysis, to have a Desired Room Single Cost Percentage of 75 % and a Desired Double Cost Percentage of 60 %.
Single Multiplier = 1 / 0.75 = 1.33
Double Multiplier = 1 / 0.60 = 1.67
Single Rack Rate = $ 45.21 * 1.33 = $ 60.28
Double Rack Rate = $ 47.71 * 1.67 = $ 79.52
Mark-up Method
Under this very method, an addition (or add-on) to the Cost of a Product will be applied to come up with the Single and Double Rack Rates.
Suppose Jamel Hotel decided to have a 25 % Mark-up on Room Costs for both Single and Double Rooms.
Single Rack Rate = $ 45.21 * (1 + 0.25) = $ 45.21 * 1.25= $ 56.51
Double Rack Rate = $ 47.71 * 1.25 = $ 59.64
Later, the hotel might adjust this figure to a whole number and communicate it as its List Price (for guest and accounting convenience!)
The most important handicap of the Cost Approach pricing is that it does not take into consideration how much Customers are actually willing to pay for the Hotel Services, and how other Hotels are actually charging for their Rooms.
2. Market condition approach:
Under this very approach, management shall look at comparable hotels in the geographical market, see what they are charging for the same product, and “charge only what the market will accept”.
Some drawbacks of this approach are that it does not take into consideration the value of the property, and what a strong sales effort may accomplish. Last but not least, there is always subjectivity in coming up with sets of criteria against which hotel rooms can be compared and measured for similarity.
3. Rule of thumb approach:
In this very approach, the rate of a room shall be $ 1 for each $ 1,000 of construction and furnishing cost per room, assuming a 70% occupancy rate.
To illustrate suppose a 150-room hotel has costed $ 9,500,000 of Construction and Furnishing Costs. Therfeore, the cost per room is $ 63,333.33 which would mean that the price per room shall be $ 63.33.
This approach, however, fails to take into consideration the inflation term, the contribution of other facilities and services towards the hotel’s desired profitablity, and assumes a ceratin level of occupancy rate.
4. Hubbart formula approach:
This very approach considers operating costs, desired profits, and expected number of rooms sold (i.e. demand). The procedure of calculating a room rate is as follows:
Calculate the hotel’s desired profit by multiplying the desired rate of return (ROI) by the owner’s investment.
Calculate pre-tax profits by dividing the desired profit by 1 minus hotel’s tax rate.
Calculate fixed charges and management fees. This calculation includes estimating depreciation, interest expense, preperty taxes, insurance, amortization, building mortgage, land, rent, and management fees.
Calculate undistributed operating expenses. This includes estimating administrative and general expenses, data processing expenses, human resourecs expenses, transportation expenses, marketing expenses, property operation and maintenance expenses, and energy costs.
Estimate non-room operating department income or loss, that is, F&B department income or loss, telephone department income or loss …
Calculate the required room department income which is the sum of pre-tax profits, fıxed charges and management fees, undistributed operating expenses, and other operating department losses less other department incomes.
Determine the rooms department revenue which is the required room department income, plus other room department direct expenses of payroll and related expenses, plus other direct operating expenses.
Calculate the average room rate by dividing rooms department revenue by the expected number of rooms to be sold.
Doubles sold daily = double occupancy rate * total number of rooms * occupancy %
Singles sold daily = rooms sold daily – number of double rooms sold daily
Singles sold daily * x + doubles sold daily * (x + y) = (average room rate) * (total number of rooms sold daily)
Where: x = price of singles; y = price differential between singles and doubles; x + y = price of doubles.
II- Discounting:
In all Computations done so far, the Room Price that we have found is what is called the Room Rack Rate (i.e. The Maximum Rate a Hotel can charge a Guest). Yet, most often, only Walk-ins (i.e. Guests without a Reservation) are charged a Rack Rate, which would mean that a big proportion of guests actually pay a Discount on the Rack Rate.
Discounting is a method used by Management to make their Products and Services attractive to Customers. This very method may differ according to seasonality, type of Customer, Market Segment, and Type of Product…
There is an important relation between Occupancy and Discount Percentage:
Equivalent Occupancy = (Current Occupancy) * ((Rack Rate - Marginal Cost) / (Rack Rate* (1-Discount Percentage) - Marginal Cost))
To illustrate, suppose that an Occupied Single Room has a daily variable cost of $ 10 and that management are right now selling at Single Rack Rate $ 50 and managing to have Single Occupancy of 70 %. Suppose, furthermore that management decided to discuss the effect of a 10 % discount on Single Rack Rate on the eventual demand! And hence, whether to discount or not!
Answer:
In order not to be economically affected by the discount, the minimum Occupancy at that discounted price (i.e. at $ 45), shall be:
Equivalent Occupancy = 70 % * (($ 50 - $ 10) / ($ 50 * (1 – 10 %) - $ 10)) = 70 % * (40 / 35) = 80 %
Management, shall at this very stage, conduct a feasibility study on the effect of that pre-determined Discount on Demand and if the effect proves to yield an occupancy which is more than 80 %, discounting can be applied. If, not than the discounting idea shall be discarded!
III- Other Pricing Techniques:
1. Market-skimming Pricing:
Setting a High Price for a new Product to skim maximum Revenues layer by layer from the Segments that are willing to pay the High Price
2. Market-penetration Pricing:
Setting a Low Price for a New Product in order to attract a Large Number of Customers and a Large Market Share.
3. Optional Product Pricing:
Pricing Optional or accessory Products that are being sold along with a Main Product.
4. Captive Product Pricing:
Setting a Price for Products that must be used along with a Main Product (ex. Frills no more free of Charge but Charged a Price to Customers)
5. Product Bundle Pricing:
Combining Several Products and Offering the Bundle at a Reduced Price (i.e. Packaging & Discounting)
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