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Introduction to Simulation
and Its Application to
Yield Management
For this portion of the session, the learning objectives are:
Receive an introduction to the technique of Simulation.
Learn the meaning of Yield Management.
Illustrate how simulation can be applied to Yield Management in general and the
Airplane Overbooking Problem in specific.
Learn how to simulate using a Table of Random Numbers.
Receive an introduction to simulation using Crystal Ball, an add-in to Excel.


A simulation is an experiment in which we attempt to understand how
something will behave in reality by imitating its behavior in an artificial
environment that approximates reality as closely as possible. (In this course,
the artificial environment will be an Excel spreadsheet within a computer.)
Within this artificial environment, a simulation conducts an experiment that
would be too costly and too time-consuming to conduct in reality. A simulation
uses funny money and just a few minutes (or seconds) of time.
Because a simulation is based on random numbers, any value obtained from a
simulation is only an estimate, that is, only an approximation of the true value.
Because a simulation is based on random numbers, obtaining accurate
estimates requires a simulation with a very large number of trials (or runs or
Because a simulation requires a very large number of trials, a simulation is best
conducted on a computer.

Yield Management is used by many businesses, such as:

Rental Cars
Yield Management encompasses a wide variety of techniques, such as
maximizing profit by determining how to adjust the prices of seats as it gets
closer and closer to the date/time when customers will use the seats. In this
course, we will not consider this technique.
A technique of Yield Management that we will consider is optimizing the number of
reservations to confirm for a limited number of seats, where there are two types
of penalties:
1. A penalty for having customers who have confirmed reservations but who are
unable to occupy a seat, and
2. A penalty for having empty seats because of customers who are no shows.
A common practice in Yield Management is overbooking, that is, confirming
more reservations than the number of seats available.
To illustrate how simulation can be applied to Yield Management, we will use an
example of airplane overbooking.

To illustrate both simulation and the airplane overbooking problem, we will
consider the example below.

NOTE: As indicated in Cell A13, we will temporarily assume that the maximum
allowable number of confirmed reservations is 127.

Below is a complete summary of our examples given data:


Random Numbers Corresponding to Demand

Demand for Confirmed Reservations

As examples,
If RN = 07, then Demand =
If RN = 68, then Demand =
If RN = 83, then Demand =

The Binomial Probability Distribution

To model the scenario where customers with confirmed reservations are no shows, we
will use the Binomial Probability Distribution.
Suppose there will be n independent trials of an event that has two possible outcomes:
Outcome 1, with probability p
Outcome 2, with probability 1-p
Then, the number of the n trials that end in Outcome 1 has a Binomial Probability
Distribution with parameters n and p. (Alternatively, the number of the n trials that
end in Outcome 2 has a Binomial Probability Distribution with parameters n and 1-p.)
Example 1: The number of heads that results when you flip a coin 10 times has a
Binomial Probability Distribution with parameters n=10 and p=0.50.
Example 2: If there is a 10% chance that a potential airplane passenger with a
confirmed reservation is a no show, then the number of no shows that results when
there are 120 confirmed reservations has a Binomial Probability Distribution with
parameters n=120 and p=0.10.
For a Binomial Probability Distribution with parameters n and p, the mean is np and the
variance is np(1-p).
The next slide displays the probability distributions for the Binomial Probability
Distributions in Example 1 and Example 2 above.

Example 1: Flipping a Coin

Example 2: No Shows


For simplicity, assume
There 15 confirmed reservations.
0.1 is the probability that a person with a confirmed reservation is a No Show.

As examples,

# of No Shows =
# of No Shows =
# of No Shows =



The following pages provide a summary of how to use

Crystal Ball to analyze the Airplane Overbooking Problem.



After launching Crystal Ball, you will see the following menu and toolbars, where the three
menu selections and the lower toolbar have been added-in to Excel. Crystal Ball permits three
types of cells:
Assumption Cells: Each Assumption Cell contains a value about which you are uncertain.
(Think of the Assumption Cells as the decision problems independent variables or inputs.)
Forecast Cells: Each Forecast Cell is one of the spreadsheets bottom lines and contains
a formula that refers directly or indirectly to at least one of the Assumption Cells. (Think of the
Forecast Cells as the decision problems dependent variables or outputs.)
Decision Cells: Each Decision Cell is under control of the decision maker and contains a
value from of a set of alternative values.
Copy Data


Paste Data

Run Preferences

Start Simulation
Stop Simulation
Reset Simulation

New Menu Selections

Forecast Charts

Create Report

Single Step


Defining Assumption Cell A18: the Demand for Confirmed Reservations

The demand for confirmed reservations is a so-called Custom Probability
It would be too time-consuming to manually enter the Custom Probability
Distribution displayed in the Cell Range R11:S60.
Fortunately, Crystal Ball provides a way to read in the 50 values and the
associated probabilities.
To do so, we proceed as summarized on the next slide.


First click on Cell A18, next click the Define

Assumption icon, then click Custom, and
finally click OK. After doing so, the dialog
box to the right appears. In this dialog box,
first enter the Assumption Cells name as
Demand, and then click Load Data.

After doing so, the dialog box to the right

appears. In this dialog box, enter the Cell
Range R11:S60, and then click OK.

After doing so, the dialog box

to the right appears, in which
the Custom Probability
Distribution has been read
in. Click OK to return to the


Defining Assumption Cell A20: the Number of No Show Reservations

To define Assumption Cell A20,
1. Click on Cell A20.
2. Click Binomial.
3. Click OK.
4. In the resulting dialog box,
A. Enter the name as Number
Who No-Show.
B. Enter Probability as the
cell reference =A9, and
enter Trials as cell
reference =A19.
C. Click Enter.
D. Click OK.

After temporarily assuming that the maximum allowable of confirmed reservations is

set to 127, after defining the two Assumption Cells in Cells A18 and A20, and after
defining the Forecast Cell in Cell A27, we obtain the following spreadsheet:

Our goal is to determine what value in Cell A13 will maximize the mean of Cell A27.


This slide and the following three slides display spreadsheets resulting from
debugging the model by repeatedly clicking on the Single Step icon until four
distinct types of scenarios are obtained.
Scenario 1: Demand > Supply & Bumping Occurs


Scenario 2: Demand > Supply & No Bumping Occurs


Scenario 3: Demand < Supply & Bumping Occurs


Scenario 4: Demand < Supply & No Bumping Occurs


Now that we are confident that the spreadsheet has been properly
constructed, we are ready to run the simulation.
Recall that our goal is to determine the optimal value for the Maximum
Number of Reservation to Confirm, that is the value for Cell A13 that
maximizes the mean of the total contribution (to overhead and profit)
Although time-consuming, one way to do this would be to run the
simulation 35 times, first with Cell A13 =115, then with Cell A13 =116, ,
and finally with Cell A13 =149. After doing so, we could then choose the
value that maximized the mean of the total contribution.
Wouldnt it be nice if Crystal Ball could automate this process for us?
In fact, Crystal Ball can do so through its Decision Table Tool.
The next slide illustrates how to use the Decision Table Tool.


Using Crystal Balls Decision Table Tool

Step 1. To define the Decision Cell, first click cell and then
click the Define Decision icon. The dialog box below will pop
up. Within this box, enter a descriptive name for the decision
and enter its lower & upper limits; then click on the radio
button for Discrete and enter the Step. Finally click on OK.

Step 2. Choose the Run, Tools, Decision Table menu

selection. The dialog box below (#1 of 3) will pop up.
Within this box, highlight one of the Forecast Cells to be
the Target Cell (i.e., the Forecast Cell whose mean value
you want to optimize). Then click Next.

Step 3. In the resulting dialog box (#2 of 3), move the

Decision Variable from Available to Chosen (i.e., from left
to right) by first highlighting the decision variable and then
clicking >>. Finally, click Next.

Step 4. In the resulting dialog box (#3 of 3), first enter the
number of trials for each simulation and then click Start.


Crystal Balls Decision Table Tool yields Rows 1-3 in the spreadsheet below. By
clicking in Cell A1 on Forecast Charts, you can view any of the 35 Forecast Charts,
including the one corresponding to the maximum Total Contribution, which can then
be pasted into the spreadsheet.