Case Study: “From Artist to Revenue Manager Expert”

April 22, 2021 | Andrew Kitchell

A conversation with John J. deRoulet, Revenue Management Expert
Interviewer: Eric Mason, Vacation Rental Enthusiast & Advisor
I had the privilege of talking with John, a Studio Art Professional turned Revenue Manager, to understand his journey that positioned him as one of the industry’s leading revenue managers and data wizards. When I asked John how art led to being interested in Revenue Management, he said, “With art as with revenue management, you use creativity, innovation, and a certain discipline to reach a great outcome. Further, I used my art discipline and creativity to find ways to understand data that then allowed us to set pricing that resulted in better use of inventory that delivered incremental revenue.”
John, who started working with Stay Alfred just after college, noted that this was a time before automated solutions were available to understand rapidly changing data, business conditions, and how a company, a unit, or an owner was doing. He remarked, “I remember we used to have an intern who took pictures of our tape charts then circled new reservations so we could see what was new and how much more revenue we put on the books; it also helped us understand booking velocity. We didn’t have a way to see our business and how it was doing.”
I asked John why he felt leveraging revenue management, yield management, inventory management, pick your term, was crucial in this industry; John said, “Quite frankly, if you’re exerting energy and investment into something, why wouldn’t you want the very best outcome. We live in an environment that has finite resources. If we miss an opportunity or we don’t fully leverage the product, we miss out, remember you can’t rent tonight’s unit tomorrow.”
When I asked John why he thinks some in the industry haven’t been willing to “give it a try,” he said that some have a fear of the unknown, some do not have the resources or time to do it, and then some feel that they may lose control or make a damaging mistake. John remarked, “Fortunately, Wheelhouse provides ’safety curbs,’ so to speak, to protect a user from making devastating mistakes. They offer the ability to set floor and ceiling thresholds in the system to help protect against making mistakes. It’s like they provide a highway and tools for you to operate; there are enough lanes on that highway to navigate in a general manner an operator wishes but also offer the curbs to keep them on the highway.”

While at StayAlfred, John started in sales and reservations which allowed him to develop a sense of the importance of data; they at the time captured 85% of their bookings through their in-bound reservations function. Later, John took on a role in sales and business development. By being involved in Sales, he began to understand how formatting data in an understandable way allowed them to learn how decisions impacted the money they made.

John has leveraged his expertise to take his learnings to other property managers, owners, and hosts and has started leveraging Wheelhouse as his go-to solution to optimize his client’s outcome. He said that being familiar with most, if not all, of the solutions out there, Wheelhouse has developed a complete solution that applies to all inventory types and regions, a solution that his clients take ownership of once they learn the principles of revenue management. Competitive set pricing hasn’t always been the best example of pricing, primarily because if you use outdated hotel data, they have heavy group block bookings that aren’t usually seen by traditional scraping or pricing tools. Vacation Rental inventory also has group booking dynamics that don’t reflect the fundamental nature of booking conditions. Take a family reunion as an example; just because you booked 6 of your 10 units in Phoenix in July doesn’t mean the real market will behave that way. So, you end up with apples and mangos from a comparative perspective. Understanding these potential challenges with just comp set pricing, a user needs to ensure they’re using a superior tool that demonstrates usable and current data to avoid possible pitfalls of this technique. Wheelhouse does that through their advanced pricing model which John has validated against his knowledge from managing multiple markets and has come to trust

John’s advice for vacation rental operators: “Operators should develop a mindset or hypothesis of where they should be and then measure data and results to operate by. When facts surface, you can then drive specific actions.”
To learn more about revenue management best practices from John, you can watch some of his videos here
Or, reach us to him directly, at john.deroulet@usewheelhouse.com
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