“Most importantly, technology should drive hotels forward – it can’t be over complicated and hold them back…” – Ira Vouk, Senior Product Strategist at Cloudbeds

At AHT Inc. we commemorate the leading-edge achievements of professionals who have dedicated their careers to innovate hospitality. Our recent 2020 countdown celebrated 17 hospitality leaders who are leading the evolution of technology in the industry.

Ira Vouk is one of our most honored innovators, a professional with over 20 years of hospitality technology experience. She has also been recognized as the top 5 revenue managers in the USA by the HSMAI (Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International) in 2013, and currently serves as the
Senior Product Strategist at Cloudbeds.

Ms. Vouk also assists hospitality companies and professionals through her inventive revenue management consulting & coaching solutions at Ira Vouk Revenue Management Services. Ira is also an author, with her book “Revenue Management Made Easy” a best seller. In addition, she is a revenue management career coach and speaks at several seminars & webinars throughout the year.

We are privileged to have had the opportunity to engage Ms. Vouk for an exclusive interview. Ira discusses with us some brilliant insights on hospitality technology, revenue management, the future of the industry, her personal journey as an influencer of the industry, and a bit from the heart.

Advanced Hospitality: Ira, currently you are a successful revenue management consultant and coach.

When did you first think of starting your own company “Ira Vouk Revenue Management Services”? What challenges did you face initially as you began your journey?

Ira: I started my Revenue Management consulting company over a decade ago. I saw a real need in professional Revenue Management (RM) services among midscale and limited-service hotels. I started practicing some simple revenue management techniques and was amazed by how effective they were in terms of revenue generation.

I realized that the majority of hotels in the world lacked any understanding or knowledge required to implement even the simplest RM strategies. So, I started helping some hotels grow their revenue and profit using my knowledge and experience. At that time I understood that there were many more hotels in need of help than I could personally oversee. So, I started teaching Revenue Management – through seminars, webinars, and educational publications.

Then, when I understood that the need was still much greater than I could handle, I wrote the book “Revenue Management made easy”  in an attempt to spread awareness about the Revenue Management discipline.

I want to believe that my efforts throughout these years have helped the industry become slightly more efficient and successful.

Advanced Hospitality: Ira, You wrote the book “REVENUE MANAGEMENT MADE EASY, for Midscale and Limited-Service Hotels: The 6 Strategic Steps for Becoming the Most Valuable Person at Your Property” for hoteliers who want to learn how to efficiently and effectively manage revenue at their properties.

What made you write this book? What response did you get after publishing it?

Ira: A few books have been written on Revenue Management in the past, they provide valuable insights into the concepts of the discipline but don’t explain how to actually implement it at your property on a daily basis.

What made me write “Revenue Management Made Easy” is that after some research I had realized that there were very few publications that contained real practical advice. 

So I created an actual guide, which you can read on day 1, start using those practices on day 2, and reap the rewards on day 3. It is really that simple. 

I’ve been getting amazing feedback from my readers. The book has all 5-star reviews on Amazon, and hospitality professionals from all over the world have been reaching out to me via LinkedIn or email with their feedback and questions.

I sell many copies every month to hospitality operators in different countries. I had no idea “Revenue Management made easy” would become so popular. My intention was just to share that valuable knowledge that I had accumulated through my practice, and I’m very happy to see that the industry has embraced it.

Advanced Hospitality: You are the Senior Product Strategist at Cloudbeds. What is your opinion on the importance of technology for hotels? Tell us a bit about your services and how you help hotels to grow their revenue?

Ira: I have been a huge promoter of technology in hospitality, ever since I founded iRates RMS, and later continued this path at Cloudbeds.

There is no way hoteliers can run their operations efficiently without automation.  Technology is critical for all hospitality operators. Most importantly, technology should drive hotels forward – it can’t be over complicated and hold them back. It has to be easy-to-use and has to be connected so hoteliers aren’t doing double work.

At Cloudbeds, we have an all-in-one suite that includes a seamlessly integrated PMS (rated #1 for ease of use), Channel Manager, Booking Engine, Pricing Intelligence Engine, Marketplace and more.

Cloudbeds’ customers make more money by staying ahead of the competition with smarter pricing, driving more direct bookings with a modern booking engine and rate checker, and distributing their inventory and rates to 300+ channels. 

Advanced Hospitality: What are the common queries from hoteliers have you been going through in your daily routine?

Ira: Hoteliers want simple things: to spend less time on routine tasks, to make their operations more efficient, and to generate more revenue. That is exactly what technology is aimed to help them with. All-in-one Hospitality Management Suites, like Cloudbeds, address all of those needs.

Advanced Hospitality: Famous American author  said: “Every problem is a gift—without problems, we would not grow.”As a ‘Product Strategist’, what’s your view on this quote?

Ira: The main purpose of a Product specialist is to develop tools that solve problems for their customers. It’s no secret that hospitality operators face a ton of challenges on a daily basis – from pricing to guest experience.

At Cloudbeds, we help them address those pain points efficiently and optimally so they can focus on their guests, rather than dealing with routine tasks that we can automate for them. Our technology is built to deliver a better guest experience so hoteliers can exceed guest expectations.

Advanced Hospitality: HITEC and HFTP are two of the biggest events in the Hospitality calendar. What is the significance of these events for the Hospitality Industry?

Ira: I try to attend both, they’re definitely significant, though there are also other valuable events throughout the year. As any significant event, they help build a professional network, communicate with partners and customers, understand the competitive landscape, stay up to speed on the changes in the industry.

As a Software Product specialist and a Revenue Management professional, it’s important for me to attend major hospitality events and stay connected to the industry.

Advanced Hospitality: What technology gaps do you still see in Hospitality technology and its implementation in the industry?

Ira: Many. Hospitality industry has been conservative in adopting new technologies. Mostly due to conservatism of the operators themselves and limitations of legacy systems that have narrow capabilities and at the same time don’t allow open third party connections.

New forward-looking cloud-based hospitality technology companies (like Cloudbeds) are more adaptive in terms of targeting the real needs of their customers (hotel operators), a whole spectrum of their needs. At the same time, they embrace integrations with third-party providers that complement their suite of products and thus add value for the customers.

Unfortunately, a large majority of hotels still use outdated systems and are reluctant to upgrade. This especially pertains to larger hotel chains and hotel groups. The larger the company, the less flexibility it normally has in adopting innovative solutions.

Advanced Hospitality: What’s your suggestion for Hotel owners looking to make their hotels more guest-friendly through technology assistance? 

Ira: First of all, invest in a good Hospitality Management Suite that would include Property Management System, Booking Engine, Channel Manager and a Revenue Management component. All those aspects are essential for successful and efficient operations. Automate as much as you can, so you are able to devote more time to your guests rather than excel spreadsheets.

Advanced Hospitality: What’s your advice for hotel owners who want to increase and manage their revenue?

Ira: Read “Revenue Management Made Easy” and implement the 6 main strategies. It’s really not that hard. And sign up for an automated Revenue Management Solution.

Advanced Hospitality: Let’s put technology and hospitality aside and discuss your personal interests. What are your hobbies? How do you enjoy your spare time?

Ira: First and foremost, I’m a mother of 2 amazing individuals. That keeps me quite busy. When I do get some free time, I travel. I took about 5 or 6 international trips within the last 12 months. 

My kids, work, and travel – my main passions in life.

Advanced Hospitality: We all have some influencers who inspire us to push ourselves in our daily lives. Can you name some of the people who have motivated you throughout your journey?

Ira: My kids of course. They push me… or rather, they push my limits, every day… 🙂

There is one person who has been my biggest influencer since the beginning of my hospitality career, my mentor and my best friend. His name is Dana Blasi, president of a local San Diego hotel management company, a hotel owner who has been contributing to the industry for decades.

He inspired me to publish my book and was behind many great ideas that I generated throughout my career. I’m very grateful for the contribution he has made to my success as a hospitality professional. And I hope he will read this blog.