People-First Perspective: Growing and Shaping Revenue Leaders

It’s always important to know what to look for when hiring new revenue managers. But in today’s tight job market, it’s even more valuable to find ways to embrace revenue managers within an organization and help nurture their professional growth. This may mean confronting the ways in which the revenue management position has changed over the past business cycle, as well as what must be done to adapt to the industry as it continues to evolve. This type of change requires effort from the top down and at every hotel so that operators will be able to better retain the talent they train for the long term.

In fact, retention should be the primary goal of every hotel operator today. With fewer hands on deck comes more responsibility for everyone who is available. Revenue managers alone have just overcome a two-year test where the pandemic disrupted key performance indicators, and the challenges they faced multiplied each day. These employees need to know they are valued and that hotel leadership is taking their potential growth into consideration.

One of the best ways to do so is by further defining the role of revenue management within an organization. Currently, hospitality as an industry is suffering because many of the roles necessary for running a hotel have been forever altered by the pandemic. Revenue management may not walk the floor each day, but the position has changed in other ways, and these must be recognized by hotel operators.

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Building Leaders

Revenue managers will continue to encounter professional roadblocks until their roles are clearly defined. Prior to the pandemic, their roles were epitomized by master analysts who worked toward becoming experts in their hotel’s local market, segment, or niche. Today, revenue managers must be more involved in the direction a hotel takes with not only its revenue strategy but its operations as well. To do so, revenue managers must be able to visualize and contextualize their findings in a way that hotel leadership can understand and act on.

These skills separate a revenue analyst from a revenue leader, and many of them cannot be taught. However, this is not a new challenge for the hospitality industry. Just as hotel operators look for front-of-house workers who have the qualities that make up a hospitality mindset, so too can hotel leaders scan their revenue management teams for those who are willing to take their role within the hotel to the next level.

Hotels should look out for current revenue managers who are curious and willing to challenge the status quo. These minds can do what is necessary to fully understand the drivers and implications behind shifts in customer behavior, business mix and distribution, and how to position your hotel to benefit from them. They must be able to tell a story using data, argue their position, and ask questions that will help hotel operators make better decisions. Though they may be at odds with what was typical in revenue management, finding someone with these attributes and a background in data analytics will be a major component of a hotel’s future success.

Long-Term Value

Growing talent internally can sometimes be painful for a business. Often, it means disruptions or openings for mistakes as new leaders grow into their roles. Fortunately, revenue managers are among the most flexible members of the hotel ecosystem, as evidenced by the frequent shifts their roles have endured over the years. Since hospitality is no longer in the business of yield management, there is no more value in cultivating yield managers. This calls for a change in tactics.

While some employees need nurturing and others need to be pushed to grow professionally, every person benefits from clarity regarding what is expected of them as the industry—and their position—evolves. This is an important step to take to bring revenue managers into more meetings and have them be a part of the decision-making process. And it all starts with understanding whom they report to.

Depending on the organization, revenue managers can be property-level personnel or occupy a seat at the executive table. Some organizations prefer revenue managers to report to the director of marketing, the general manager, or other leaders on the commercial side of the business. Zeroing in on a location and reporting structure for revenue managers within an organization is a big step toward creating greater accountability and responsibility for the hotel’s success. Without this direction, hotels risk creating further confusion and pushing talented revenue managers into other industries capable of providing further clarity.

Where We Are Going

When revenue management was first introduced to the industry years ago, the question of where the role was evolving soon followed. Was it to become a regional position, or would it be better served as a corporate overseer? This question has yet to be answered, but the time to do so is now.

Hospitality needs more leaders today than it did prior to the pandemic, and revenue managers’ ultimate goal is to become a part of the hotel’s broader strategy. This may require breaking down a hotel’s traditional organizational structure to find a place where revenue management is most effective. Hotels that do so will benefit from a larger pool of talented revenue leaders capable of steering a hotel’s commercial strategy.

The rate of change the industry has experienced over the past two years is nothing short of astonishing. And while it has slowed in the short term, there is no sign of stability in the near future. Adapting to such an environment will require a different mindset from what worked in the last business cycle. Hotels should be prepared to do what is necessary to avoid training personas that are misaligned with the requirements of tomorrow’s hotel industry.

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Digna M. Kolar is director of industry consulting at IDeaS. Digna boasts a strong global background in hotel operations, revenue management, consulting, and strategic pricing. As director of industry consulting at IDeaS, Digna leads a global team of professionals assisting hospitality companies of all sizes to build and enhance their total performance and price optimization capabilities.

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