Skip to content


Revenue Rockstar: Diego Fernández

Diego Fernández Pérez De Ponga is the Corporate Director of Revenue at Palladium Hotel Group, a Spanish hotel chain with hotels in Spain, Italy, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Brazil. 

Diego was recently named by the International Hospitality Institute as one of the 25 most inspiring and important executives in our industry.

Today we spoke with him to get to know him better and find out how he ended up in the hospitality industry.

In this interview, Diego reveals where his attraction to hospitality comes from, how he ended up working in revenue management, what has been the best hotel experience he has had as a guest and shares with us the advice he usually gives to his team and his students.

Diego, tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? 

I'm from León, a small city in the north of Spain where the winter is very harsh and the summer is very hot. Although I've been living here in Ibiza with my family for the last 12 years.

What do you like most about living in a place as special as Ibiza?

Ibiza has a special soul, you feel it when you arrive at the airport and the warm air hits your face, you immediately relax. It doesn't seem like it, but when you live here you take things differently.

In my case, we have a very quiet life, because Ibiza is not only the party of the summer, there is also a quieter, more family-oriented Ibiza.

What attracted you to the hotel industry & what was your first role?

I'm the first person in my family to work in tourism. The rest are government employees, both my parents, my brother, and my grandparents. 

My passion for the industry started when I was a child and I played at having a restaurant. In fact, I remember always helping in the kitchen. For Christmas dinner, there I was, at the age of 14 or 15, giving my mother a hand. That was the breeding ground. What might surprise you is that I started to study industrial engineering in León, but it didn't work out, it didn't fill me up. So I said, "why not try something related to cooking, because I really like cooking?". So I studied catering.

My first job as such was as a waiter in a cafeteria. Being behind the bar chatting and in constant contact with people got me hooked and I decided to study hotel management in Santiago de Compostela.

What is the dish you delight your family & friends with?

You will laugh, but it is lasagna. I make a finger-licking lasagna, one of those four-layer ones, with two kilos of minced meat... You’ll remember the lasagna all week long.

That and my grandmother's cookie cake, which I also do quite well. But if I have to name one dish that I feel comfortable with, it's lasagna. 

How did you get into revenue management?

I never thought I was going to end up in sales or revenue management because, as I said, I liked cooking and that's why I studied catering. In fact, when I was studying, my dream was to be the director of a company's food and beverage department.  

It was an internal opportunity at Palladium that made me change course. I was offered to go to the Ibiza headquarters, to the systems department, and I said yes.

There I was in charge of the training area and I went to the hotels to set up the POS, the PMS and to see if the computers were working properly.

That's how I started and then I was lucky enough to change the company's PMS and I was in charge of that project as Project Manager.

Later, by chance, the reservations department in Europe needed a person who, above all, had a technical profile and who knew the system from top to bottom, because it had just been implemented. And there I was, I knew the system and that's how I started as Director of Central Reservations Europe.

Then I set up the Palladium revenue team from scratch because there was no Revenue Manager. That was the company's bet.

Now everyone sees clearly that there has to be a Revenue Manager in each hotel and that there has to be a structure, but ten years ago, in the leisure market here in the Mediterranean, those positions were only held by the American chains, or the likes of Meliá, or NH.

The next step was to replicate what I did in Europe in the Caribbean and that's where I took on the corporate role.

What was your biggest challenge during this period? 

The first few months as Director of Central Reservations Europe were really tough, because I didn't come from the marketing, sales, or revenue side. I came from the systems side. 

I didn't have extensive knowledge of reservations or revenue, so during the first months I had to train myself, get to know the project, the team... it was hard. I remember that first year and a half as a real challenge.

What are you most proud of?

It may seem silly, but I feel very proud to be able to leave Palladium tomorrow and know that no one will notice. Knowing that I have created a structure, that I have created a department and a way of working that will last over time.

People come and go, companies come and go, but what remains is the DNA that we now have in the company: revenue-oriented, focused on improving profitability, with processes and a solid team. A project of almost ten years of work.

For me, that is my greatest success. In addition to seeing how the people who have accompanied me along the way have also evolved and grown. In fact, the person who started with me was an intern and now is one of my right hands in Palladium's revenue department. Seeing that growth also makes me feel very proud.

But if I had to emphasize something it would be that today Diego is not essential.

If you didn't work in hotels what other industry would you like to work in?

If I had to switch to an industry it would be retail. The whole part of online selling, how to help improve department stores with dynamic pricing, with revenue strategies.

What can we expect from Diego in 2022?

For 2022, in addition to continuing to give my best at Palladium and being with my family, I want to continue providing training. I like it and I firmly believe it is necessary.

In 2020 and 2021 I started giving training because I love teaching and, above all, to be able to do my bit to help the industry to become more professional and for the revenue management that we love so much to expand. I hope that the culture that we have implemented at Palladium will spread to the rest of the chains.

Well, I also have a small project in the form of a document, which I am still working on, and which I hope will come out in 2022. It is a very big surprise. I can't give you any more details, but it's going to be spectacular.

How did you find out about the IHI accolade?

I got a notification from LinkedIn saying that someone had tagged me giving me congratulations, so I logged in and saw it. It was exciting to feel the recognition outside of Spain and to see that my company, Palladium, is on the lips of people abroad. For me, it is an enormous privilege.

The truth is that in this list there could be many people from Palladium, colleagues who do extraordinary work, and who are truly inspiring leaders within the company.

What one piece of advice do you give to your team members & students? 

I only give one and that is to be happy. 

The other day we were in a video conference with the whole team that I lead in Europe and I shared with them the need to be happy, because in reality, work is a means and if you are not happy it is of absolutely no use to you.

The pandemic has been very hard for tourism and you have to get back on your feet. I always tell them this: you have to be happy and try to help others. 


Back to Library

Speak to an expert

Contact us