Since debuting in 2020, FuturePace has become a powerful tool for destination marketing organizations (DMOs) seeking to improve their pace reporting and make better-informed decisions based on accurate forecasting data.
With FuturePace, DMOs can identify and address problems before they arise, providing them with a comprehensive view of their performance by quickly identifying what's already on the books, what's left to book, and what's tentatively scheduled. FuturePace delivers a trifecta of pace reporting capabilities — including access to Simpleview's business intelligence team, full dynamic integration with the user's CRM data, and support from the 2Synergize team for troubleshooting and data interpretation.
We asked Nathan Hermiston, senior vice president of sales and services for Visit KC, to share what benefits FuturePace has brought to the DMO and its hotel community.
Senior Vice President of Sales and Services, Visit KC
Tell me about your DMOs history with FuturePace. What prompted you to become a FuturePace subscriber?
We have been members of FuturePace for a little over two years now. In having discussions internally here at Visit KC and externally with our peers, the need for a more dynamic pacing tool was needed, and when FuturePace was rolled out, it was clear that the dynamic ability to produce timely and relevant pacing reports was superior to anything else on the market. We get near real-time pacing that we can now utilize and share with our partners to make decision-making a much more efficient process.
What are some ways you’re integrating the hotel community into FuturePace, and what has been the reaction from your hotel community to the reports and information?
When we signed up for FuturePace, the first thing I did was had Christine (Shimo) Shimasaki attend our monthly GM/DOS meeting to walk them through the tool and its features. It was clear right away that this tool was much more aligned with the way hotels look at pace reports and the way we could adjust and be dynamic with the way we looked at the data that was available. That created the buy-in and the realization that this was a tool that could be significantly more useful to them and their stakeholders.
Since then, I have been very transparent in sharing our reporting with our hotel community at our monthly meetings. Each month we review the STLY report along with the Visit KC observations that opens up conversation. Then we roll into the Citywide Pace Report Heat Map (as I call it) and our OTB vs. Pace Target by year graphs, and we wrap with the LTB versus Current Tentative Funnel, which shows how much more work needs to be done. Doing this monthly allows us the ability to show trends we are seeing and be candid about where we are struggling in real-time. Lastly, we do show the Comp Set Data, or as I have called it during the pandemic — the “misery loves company” slides which provided some levity to the room in that it wasn’t just us going through these booking and pace concerns.
Attending FuturePace’s quarterly members' meetings provides DMOs with the opportunity to learn from and interact with peers and access valuable reporting from Tourism Economics. What value do you get from these meetings?
I enjoy these meetings, and it is always interesting to hear of the pressing issues in our respective peer markets. It never ceases to surprise me that even though we all do similar work with similar objectives, the path to get there and the stakeholders engaged vary so greatly between destinations. During the pandemic, when there were such discrepancies going on with demand, the range of issues various destinations had was eye-opening. Staffing was an issue for everyone, but in different ways, and the way we were dealing with the changing landscape of demand varied so greatly from destination to destination based on your geography, your hospitality infrastructure, and, yes — the political environment.
What are you looking at in your comp set? How are you using it?
I am still getting my arms around the comp set data. During the pandemic, we looked at the comp set data, but as I had mentioned, the market-by-market landscape had altered so much that it was hard to make real tactical decisions based upon what the comp set data said. The fact is/was — we were all behind pace, so there wasn’t much to glean.
That said, from a macro-level, what it did show, especially after about a year or so into the pandemic, was that the destinations that had been aggressive and thoughtful in putting big group business on the books further in advance were in a better position than others who had maybe shifted to a more short-term/yield maximizing strategy.
Specifically in Kansas City, we had the fortune of having a very strong Q1/Q2 2023 on the books before the pandemic hit, and as we started to see recovery begin to materially take place, it was comforting to see those efforts providing a soft landing to our hotel community while we looked ahead in 2022 to 2023. Conversely, 2024 has been a need year for quite some time, and the pandemic only exasperated that issue. We have used the contrast of 2023 (good) and 2024 (bad) as we have looked at other large group opportunities now in the future to show that putting good group business on the books further in advance is an investment in ourselves and the comp set data has been able to articulate that more for our hotel community.
What actions do you take when you may be behind pace in certain timeframes?
I am transparent to a fault, and I will not sugarcoat a bad pace report. In our monthly hotel meetings and in our weekly calls with our full-service hotels, we will highlight the strengths where we can maximize opportunities, but more so highlight where we are down, explain why we are down, analyze decisions we made or groups we lost that put us in that spot so that we can sharpen our pencil even more the next time.
I have found that repetition is the key, and I can with high confidence tell you that if you were to randomly survey anyone of our hotels, they would be able to tell you what our need years and months are as a destination, so when we uncover those opportunities to impact those need years, the hotel community understands what we are saying, and our proposals and efforts can be much more effective.
While we do look at offering destination incentives to impact need years, the true impact of those is negligible. Every piece of business is different in terms of what they need and what is going to move the needle or hit their hot buttons. So our sales team, with our hotel and convention center community, based upon the understanding of our pace reports, are able to craft customized and competitive proposals that speak directly to the customer and are competitively tied to what our need, or not-need, timeframes are.
What advice do you have for other DMOs considering becoming a FuturePace member?
As a large market DMO with a limited budget, it is an investment well spent. We do not have the time to customize the pace reports that FuturePace is able to do, that speaks directly to our hotel and convention center community, that I am able to turn around and ultimately strategize with our partners to better position the destination from a group perspective.
Further, they are always taking feedback from partners and integrating it into their reporting, whether it be tweaks or edits in the way the data is presented or reimagining a report to make it more relevant to us and/or our hospitality partners, there is always continuous improvement, which again is something we did not have before, nor do I have the resources to invest in. It is the best tool out there for us for pacing report purposes.
Developed in partnership with George Fenich, the creator of the TAP report, FuturePace boasts improved data processing for greater accuracy in calculating pace targets. FuturePace features include 24/7 access to dynamic data, 3-year average, and custom goal setting, hotel-style pace reporting, data analysis by industry experts, enhanced visual reporting, and detailed charts with yearly, quarterly, and monthly data, as well as filterable comparisons by room nights, events, and attendees.
For more articles about FuturePace, see “FuturePace comp sets: the value of analyzing your pace against your DMO competitive sets.”
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