I looked forward to meeting Chris Scicluna, Director of Revenue Systems Support at Corinthia Hotel Limited (CHL). CHL is the management arm of the Corinthia group. I wished to be introduced to this area of work. Chris must have seen this because he poured out information with incredible generosity. The problem was not how to start but how to stop.
His initial work in the field was Revenue Management, which basically includes the management of income and its source. In a hotel, this would comprise analytics and performance data, which help predict customers’ behaviour and thus assist in deciding pricing and distribution strategies. “In other words, data collation and operations research are combined with a strategy to understand customer behaviour and then work jointly with the sales force.” The aim of all this is to increase revenue and hence profitability. So this information is essential to build a direct booking system and decides what different segment customers would be willing to pay, keeping in mind also the demand and supply factors in relation to that particular hotel. It, therefore, leads to maximum occupancy and establishing a room rate at specific times, hence securing maximum revenue. “In straightforward terms: selling the right room for the right guests for the right price to achieve the right income.”
It is a fascinating world that operates behind the public scene but assists guests and the hotel in maximising their respective experiences and interests.
“All these complex operations require a computerised system which shares, distributes and informs the public at large, what a hotel is offering in real-time, and what offers are in vogue at the moment, together with all the visual aids which entice prospective clients to choose according to their liking and depth of their pockets. These systems support what could be likened to a window shop for the passing customer who can just pop in and buy, so the information must be the latest for that specific period. I am responsible for seeing that this revenue system is always working efficiently across the Corinthia hotels. It is a compellingly precise task and sees me work hand in hand with other departments, like IT, marketing, sales, finance and others, who each input their part of the information, visuals and proper literature to maximise the direct information to inform and enable prospective customers to decide on the spot.”
Chris has been with Corinthia for 21 years. “They have been exciting years where I saw Corinthia grow and can still experience this expansion. I feel proud to be a part of this expanding scenario. I do not just look back with satisfaction but also look forward with great confidence to an energising future. My mind goes back to when I started on Management Revenue, establishing rates, studying competitor prices, working with travel agents, and then transforming to online service. The Global Distribution System (GDS) was first applied solely to acquire airline tickets but now includes hotels. The travel agent can thus book your airline ticket and your hotel. But nowadays, an individual can enter this platform alone and decide on his choices.”
The choices offered to the public change very dramatically during the day. “Information is distributed amongst the Global Distribution System (GDS) or our own website, or online travel agents (OTA) such as Expedia. We continuously provide all these with real-time information; hence, the data is reviewed and updated often, even several times during the day.
“When I started, I was serving five hotels in 2002. This number has boomed. When in 2009 we acquired Corinthia London, we decided to build our own distribution, so we standardised everything. All Corinthia had to speak the same language to avoid discrepancies and present one face to the public. We also created a brand chain, which we named IA Code (the letters being the last two in the name Corinthia). So we could stand alone working online as Corinthia. We became our own masters.
“In 2015, we joined Discovery Programme, which made us important partners of a group of hotels (38 brands with 800 properties) so we could share our members’ profile amongst a much wider audience with specific loyalty programmes.
“Corinthia’s new hotels in the pipeline will also challenge me to integrate them into one revenue system. A tough but energising work!”
Chris’s experience is quite unique in Malta. Before he joined Corinthia, he worked for established hotels such as Hilton, Weston and Crown Plaza. Did he have an understudy who would take over when it was time? “Yes, he is in London and is growing into all the facets of the job.”
Indeed, there are aspects of his work which he prefers to others. “I am essentially a problem solver, so I love the challenging part of my job most. I love the new pastures I have to experience, so I find routine work boring and uninteresting.”
But all this needs a break at the end of the day. “I relax in manual work, woodwork, electrical…no electronics, however! I have a large garage in my basement where I lose myself. I used to spend all the weekend there. I had built all our home furniture, but I confess I no longer do this and simply buy new ones when needed.
“I am married to Catherine, who used to work for Malta Experience years ago but then stopped to dedicate herself to being a mother and wife. We have two children: Luke, who is 29 and works with a financial company, and Ethan, 21, who works in cryptocurrency.
“My life was much more hectic in the past. I sometimes travelled three times within a month. So, poor Catherine bore all the brunt of family rearing and discipline. So, nowadays, when I return home, I try my best to be a father.
“I love cooking at the weekend. I’m quite good for pastries and pasta …my timpana is excellent…that’s what I would like to believe!
“When I retire in the coming years, I want to cultivate a small field I own nearby to grow fruit trees and establish a small kitchen garden. I look forward to just walking with my wife and children and enjoying ourselves even over a cup of coffee.”
Nostalgia? “No, the process of growing needs some dreams of a future to look forward to.”