Luxury Skytop Lodge Increases Revenue with Focus on Groups, Packages

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Package Strategy Helps Drive 48% Reservation Conversion Rate.

Operationally, we focused on revenue per guest, which has increased through our package program. We have found that building value is crucial to sales.

The outlook is bright for Skytop Lodge, a historic luxury resort on 5,500 acres in the Poconos, northwest of New York City. Bookings are up four percent over last year and rack rate is common. The upscale 193-room luxury golf resort is clearly doing something right. Refocusing marketing efforts to attract valuable group convention business and implementing a new hotel software package-pricing strategy are only half the story.

“Four years ago we decided to rethink our operation,” said Dan Harris, Skytop’s lodge operations manager. “We analyzed our guest mix and hotel management software, and we took an objective look at other resorts in our market. Research indicated we could attract much more group business by adding a first-class executive conference center.

“It was also clear we needed to upgrade our technology platform,” added Harris, “so we could integrate our group convention operation and support a new package pricing strategy.” After considerable research, Skytop installed the Maestro Enterprise Property Management Suite with integrated Front Office and Sales and Catering from NORTHWIND. Then in early 2005, the resort unveiled its new executive conference center, complete with the latest meeting technology and amenities, and began implementing a package sales strategy.

Skytop’s emphasis on selling packages has also paid off in the past year. Nearly 80 percent of all Skytop’s guests – both group convention and leisure – are on package rates. “We market to specific guest types, and we focus on packages that are all-inclusive,” said Harris. “We use Maestro pms technology at every point in the reservations process to drive sales. Our reservations team promotes amenities during a guest call, and the system displays all our package options with length of stay, room, tax, meals and activities. Having one price to quote with all the backup to answer questions makes it easier to explain and close the sale. Most of our groups use our corporate meeting packages as well.”

Prior to opening its conference center and upgrading its technology, Skytop ran two separate systems, one for the front office and a standalone sales and catering application. “With our old technology we had to generate banquet event orders and contracts on our sales system, then manually enter the numbers into our front office system for billing. The systems were never current,” said Harris. “With Maestro’s single database Front Office and Sales and Catering systems, we can look at a group’s account anytime and see where billing and folios stand for payment.” Harris also noted that Skytop’s accounts receivable is minimal now because group leaders can get an up-to-date accounting at checkout and pay their bill immediately, rather than waiting for a mailed invoice.

“NORTHWIND is an excellent technology partner,” Harris said. “They have created special reports that focus on our needs; they regularly audit our team to ensure we are using as much functionality as possible, and provide customized training. NORTHWIND is constantly upgrading the Maestro system to make it better and that benefits our operation.” Harris noted that NORTHWIND was the only technology provider that offered all the modules they needed, including point-of-sale and sales and catering, to allow the hotel to implement a single-database strategy. An added benefit of the integrated system is that Skytop can process all credit card charges from one system at one time, providing the group a lower processing rate.

Historically, Skytop’s dominant segment was leisure guests, primarily from New York City and other eastern urban centers. But the conference center has given Skytop a big jump in its corporate business. “Our group convention component has increased to about 47percent of our guest mix this year,” said Harris. “We are now attracting large corporate groups, many of them international, including a group of UN diplomats that stayed with us recently.”

Harris explained that Skytop’s packages allow guests to use the entire property facilities for one price. This gives them value and allows guests to budget their vacations with more accuracy. The resort’s package strategy also promotes experience and memories that build loyalty. “Operationally, we focused on revenue per guest, which has increased through our package program. We have found that building value is crucial to sales.”

Skytop has its own call center and professionally trained reservation agents’ who’s booking conversions are tracked by the Maestro front office system. Even with an increase in rack-rated room sales and number of packages offered, Skytop’s reservations team is converting an incredible 48 percent of all calls.

Skytop Lodge, with its championship golf course and extensive forested acreage, offers guests a variety of activities including fly fishing, shooting, tennis, hiking, biking, down hill skiing, cross country skiing and skating. The property opened in the 1920s as a private club and only converted to public hotel operations in the 1980s. With that much history, the independent resort does a respectable family reunion business and often hosts three generations of repeat guests. “At one time summer guests came mostly from New York City because it is cooler here; now we operate a four-season resort,” said Harris. “We are seeing a change in the way reservations are being booked. Many of our leisure guests are reserving rooms a year or more in the future, and surprisingly, many groups are booking with a shorter lead time.” Skytop Lodge is recommended by Conde Nast Traveller, on the National Register of Historic Hotels and is a member of Historic Hotels of America.    

“Older properties, in particular, need a good technology consultant before shopping for systems,” said Harris. “We discovered a lot we did not know about system compatibility, hardware options and installation timing from our consultant that we might have learned the hard way. Now we are moving into the 21st Century with a focus on spyware, data encryption and preventing guest identity theft.”

NORTHWIND will be exhibiting at HITEC 2006 in Minneapolis, MN., June 19-22. Please visit booth 433 to receive a complete Maestro demonstration.

About Skytop Lodge

Skytop Lodge, in the Pocono Mountains, offers a selection of resort lodging that is as unique as the needs of guests. Visitors to the Poconos can choose from the grand historic Skytop Lodge, the serene privacy of deluxe cottages, and for those who love golf, The Inn offers luxury hotel accommodations right on the golf course. For more information go to http://www.skytop.com or call 800.617.2389.

Maestro Property Management Suite

To create the most productive working environment, the Maestro Property Management Suite combines a full-function Front Office System in use by hotels from 3,500 to 25 rooms with a family of robust modules that includes Maestro GDS+ -- an online, real-time reservation engine with integrated Yield Management to maximize ADR for virtually all e-Reservation channels; Maestro Owner Management – fully integrated ownership accounting functionality for asset performance reporting; and Maestro Sales & Catering, which manages group-convention sales and function rooms, whether at one property or a portfolio of hotels

Maestro Enterprise also includes the ResEze Web Booking Engine that enables independent and multi-property hotels to take advantage of the growing online revenue opportunity by providing tools for guests, groups and T/As to book their own reservations from an operator’s website; Maestro Yield – a revenue manager that makes sophisticated strategies easy for multiple booking channels at one or more properties; Maestro Analytics – a complete business intelligence software suite that lets end-users interactively analyze critical business information; and Maestro CRM and GEM (Guest Experience Management), which give managers the performance information to make the best marketing decisions for booking new business.

Further, Maestro’s Retail POS module integrates all retail sales outlets on one system; and Maestro Spa & Activities Management enables resorts, hotels and clubs to schedule facilities and activities with real-time integration to all other modules. Additionally, Maestro CRS supports a two-way interface to corporate sales offices; and Maestro Multi-Property maintains any number of properties on a single server with a single database, or each property can rely on its own server and have data exchanged with the central corporate offices. All Maestro systems feature three-level password security, credit card masking and property-configurable Data Encryption to assist in the prevention of identity theft and comply with pending identity theft protection legislation.

About NORTHWIND

NORTHWIND, known in the hospitality industry for its service and state-of-the-art technology, is widely respected for providing hotels, private organizations and corporate management companies with flexible software solutions.

Based in Markham, Ontario, Canada, with a network of dealers and offices worldwide, NORTHWIND is a leading supplier of software for all types of hospitality operations, including hotels, resorts, timeshares, condominiums, seminaries, state parks and clubs. Maestro applications are engineered for operators who need to manage their enterprise in a real-time environment for the utmost operational control and profitability. Designed to maximize the

efficiency of any size single hotel or multi-property enterprise, NORTHWIND's Maestro solution offers the most productive working environment and includes the following suite of products: PMS, Sales & Catering, Spa & Activities Management, CRM, Corporate Reservations Office, Multi-Property Management, Condo/Timeshare Owner Management, Yield Management, F&B POS, Online Table Res, Retail POS, GDS Connectivity and ResEze Internet Reservations. This comprehensive multi-platform (Windows 2000/XP, Unix/Linux, Terminal Server & Web Enabled) suite is recognized as the solution of choice for progressive and demanding organizations. NORTHWIND is a total solution provider that offers leading-edge technologies and unparalleled training and support.

Contact:

Audrey MacRae – Director, Sales & Marketing

NORTHWIND

60 Renfrew Drive, Suite #235

Markham, ON L3R 0E1

Phone: (905) 940-1923 ext - 246

1-888-NORTH88 (667-8488)

Fax: (905) 940-1925

http://www.maestropms.com

Media Contact

Julie Squires

Softscribe Inc.

Phone: 404-256-5512    

http://www.softscribeinc.com

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