IDeaS (Integrated Decisions and Systems), a SAS company, is a global technology company that pioneered analytical pricing and revenue management solutions for the hospitality and travel industries. The company is responsible for pricing over 1.6 million hotel rooms, across approximately 10,000 independent properties, daily. IDeaS takes these decisions based on its proprietary analytics engine and delivers them to clients and their channels using cutting-edge cloud-based solutions. IDeaS has also extended its expertise in revenue optimization to make pricing decisions for long-term car parks.
Predictive analytical tools enable users to understand the impact of changing their strategy. Advanced pricing and inventory controls maximise revenue opportunities, handling expanded data sources such as reputation, competitive performance and rate shopping. IDeaS’ analytical solutions provide intangible benefits to hotels. They enhance forecasting capabilities with a dynamic selection of hundreds of forecasting algorithms and models for the best possible results. The company provides granular data and decisions for multiple departments, segments, room types, day parts and rate codes.
The Foundation that Paved the Way for IDeaS
The company co-founders, Dr. Ravi Mehrotra and Sanjay Nagalia, started IDeaS in Minneapolis, United States, in 1989. In the initial days, IDeaS focused on developing client-server-based revenue management systems for the airline industry. Ravi and Sanjay soon discovered another market that could greatly benefit from automated revenue management systems: hotels. Hotel businesses at that time were used to managing revenue in a very manual and subjective way, and much education was required in terms of how automated revenue management technology could benefit them. Very soon, IDeaS evolved from being a company of “crazy scientists” to a company whose technology helped revenue managers and hotels perform better by providing real-time pricing decisions for booking the right guest at the right price. Ravi, in his 27-year journey, has seen IDeaS grow into an industry pioneer and leader in revenue management technology providing solutions to more than 10,000 hotels globally.
Before co-founding IDeaS, Ravi was credited with designing solutions for real-time scheduling and transportation problems at Texas Instruments and Andersen Consulting.
Ravi began his academic career as an assistant professor at the North Carolina State University. During his tenure, he invented new models for parallel computing, designed and analysed asynchronous and randomised algorithms for distributed processing, and reviewed many proposals for key government scientific agencies. He graduated from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur and earned his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.
Ravi has a dozen patents to his name. He is also accomplished in the field of predictive analytics, forecasting, and dynamic price optimisation. Ravi developed the bid price approach, commonly referred to as the Last Room Value – LRV, in the company’s revenue solutions. It allows hotels to manage their inventory effectively and enables them to establish the optimal price for their unqualified and flexible qualified business with its close relationship to price elasticity and demand.
Ravi was honored with the Vanguard Award for Lifetime Achievement in Revenue Management by the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) for his endless dedication to developing bid price, innovative revenue solutions, and pioneering the revenue management discipline.
A Veteran Leader
K.S. Prashant is the Managing Director, India, responsible for the IDeaS regional offices and its operations within the country. Prashant brings more than 20 years of experience in strategic business development, service delivery and global leadership to the executive team.
Prior to joining IDeaS, Prashant held senior-level management positions with KPIT Technologies and Parametric Technology Corporation and was co-founder of Auric System Integrators. Prashant received a Bachelor of Engineering degree from the College of Engineering in Pune, followed by a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Utah.
Driving Innovation in The Hospitality Industry
IDeaS started applying revenue management techniques for the hospitality and travel sectors more than 30 years ago. Since then, the company has led the market with several ‘industry firsts’ including the introduction of cloud/software-as-a-service, group pricing, function space revenue management, and reputation scoring. The IDeaS team believes that being a part of the industry ecosystem is critical for the company. IDeaS partners with several established technology companies as well as innovative start-ups to improve decision-making within the hospitality industry.
Moreover, the company’s employees go beyond their regular roles and expand the boundaries of revenue and pricing. “At IDeaS, we have employees that come from hospitality, technology, data science and client support backgrounds, who work under one roof and deliver solutions to customers globally. We have created a ‘hyperspace’, based on Daniel Pink’s autonomy, mastery and purpose philosophy to enable our employees to come together and cross-pollinate their ideas in a global platform called “ShipIT”. It gives our employees an opportunity to identify a problem, demonstrate solutions and have it included in the product roadmap to benefit our clients”, said Prashant.
Business Excellence and Awards
IDeaS’ revenue optimisation solution has transformed the hospitality industry globally. It has brought a positive change in the operations of hotels, resulting in increased growth and competitiveness. The company has achieved a client retention rate of 95 percent and received recognitions from its clients worldwide. In February 2018, the Hotel Tech Report named IDeaS among the top-rated revenue management software companies. One of the examples in relevance to the Indian audience is Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces, which has hotel chains across the world, stated that implementing IDeaS solutions helped them to re-think their entire business strategy.
IDeaS has also been recognised at national and international fora. Recently, the company was conferred with the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) Europe’s Best Tech Innovator of the Year awards, which recognised IDeaS for its Smart Space solutions. Smart Space maximises revenue from meetings and events (M&E) spaces for hotels.
Furthermore, the company educates revenue managers with customised training modules. IDeaS’ learning function was honoured with the Gold at the 2017 Brandon Hall Group Excellence Award for its advanced learning technology.
IDeaS also offers the IDeaS Cornell Revenue Management Scholarship Program, in membership with the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. It is a first-of-its-kind program that provides recipients with convenient access to online certifications and professional development opportunities — all tuition paid.
Converting Challenges into Opportunities
The company started its business by developing client-server-based revenue management systems and then moved on to establish a full-fledged scientific revenue management culture. This transition was itself a challenge.
Another challenge that IDeaS face is tackling the influx of new data sources. The company is helping hotels address it with their analytics tools that deliver optimal revenues. “Often it is important to understand the context and the structure of the problem before examining the data. Data tells us a story, but it is also impacted by good and bad business practices of the past. We rely on scientific ways to interpret and cleanse this data by removing distortions”, Prashant said.
“For example, without insights on demand in a hotel, it is impossible to interpret why and how decisions were taken around pricing and distribution.”
Bridging the Gap Between Data and Insights
Prashant believes data plays a huge role in the technology-driven world. Every system is dependent on data. Today, hoteliers have access to information anytime and anywhere, which helps them to predict and analyse consumer behaviour, eventually simplifying decision-making and improving customer engagement.
However, in the context of the hospitality industry, the challenge lies in accessing the right data at the right moment. “While incorporating more data points into revenue management, it is important to analyse whether the cost of acquiring the extra data point will significantly improve decision-making. Organizations are using artificial intelligence, adaptive intelligence, and intelligent chatbots, to help customers get the best results. We saw a hotel achieve as much as a 40% increase in sales with the installation of our revenue management system”, Prashant added.
Future Industry Perspectives
On the future of disruptive technologies Prashant feels big data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning will fundamentally change the way businesses operate. Whoever has the most relevant data and analytics know-how will have the edge.
From hotels’ perspective, guests will be able to leverage AI-powered technology to get information via their smartphones and use voice-activated chat apps or messaging apps to order breakfast, book spa services, or a taxi. Additionally, they can have real-time conversations with staff about their problems or requests. It will enable personalisation and a seamless experience for both the hoteliers and customers.