Problem definition: We consider network revenue management problems with flexible products. We have a network of resources with limited capacities. To each customer arriving into the system, we offer an assortment of products. The customer chooses a product within the offered assortment or decides to leave without a purchase. The products are flexible in the sense that there are multiple possible combinations of resources that we can use to serve a customer with a purchase for a particular product. We refer to each such combination of resources as a route. The service provider chooses the route to serve a customer with a purchase for a particular product. Such flexible products occur, for example, when customers book athome cleaning services but leave the timing of service to the company that provides the service. Our goal is to find a policy to decide which assortment of products to offer to each customer to maximize the total expected revenue, making sure that there are always feasible route assignments for the customers with purchased products. Methodology/results: We start by considering the case in which we make the route assignments at the end of the selling horizon. The dynamic programming formulation of the problem is significantly different from its analogue without flexible products as the state variable keeps track of the number of purchases for each product rather than the remaining capacity of each resource. Letting L be the maximum number of resources in a route, we give a policy that obtains at least [Formula: see text] fraction of the optimal total expected revenue. We extend our policy to the case in which we make the route assignments periodically over the selling horizon. Managerial implications: To our knowledge, the policy that we develop is the first with a performance guarantee under flexible products. Thus, our work constructs policies that can be implemented in practice under flexible products, also providing performance guarantees. Funding: The work of H. Topaloglu was partly funded by the National Science Foundation [Grant CMMI1825406]. Supplemental Material: The online appendix is available at https://doi.org/10.1287/msom.2022.0583 .
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An Approximation Algorithm for Network Revenue Management Under Nonstationary Arrivals
We provide an approximation algorithm for network revenue management problems. In our approximation algorithm, we construct an approximate policy using value function approximations that are expressed as linear combinations of basis functions. We use a backward recursion to compute the coefficients of the basis functions in the linear combinations. If each product uses at most L resources, then the total expected revenue obtained by our approximate policy is at least [Formula: see text] of the optimal total expected revenue. In many network revenue management settings, although the number of resources and products can become large, the number of resources used by a product remains bounded. In this case, our approximate policy provides a constantfactor performance guarantee. Our approximate policy can handle nonstationarities in the customer arrival process. To our knowledge, our approximate policy is the first approximation algorithm for network revenue management problems under nonstationary arrivals. Our approach can incorporate the customer choice behavior among the products, and allows the products to use multiple units of a resource, while still maintaining the performance guarantee. In our computational experiments, we demonstrate that our approximate policy performs quite well, providing total expected revenues that are substantially better than its theoretical performance guarantee.
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 NSFPAR ID:
 10172518
 Date Published:
 Journal Name:
 Operations Research
 Volume:
 68
 Issue:
 3
 ISSN:
 0030364X
 Page Range / eLocation ID:
 834 to 855
 Format(s):
 Medium: X
 Sponsoring Org:
 National Science Foundation
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