Revenue strategy is probably the newest profession in the hotel industry and one more important than ever. At the dawn of the discipline, the GM or director of marketing at a hotel would pluck a member of the staff who was good with numbers, understood spreadsheets and had a rudimentary knowledge of hotel marketing and make them the property’s revenue manager.
We’ve come a long way since then. Today, hospitality schools are teaching the craft, the AH&LA offers certification and most people in the industry understand the importance of hiring top-notch revenue strategy professionals. It’s not a stretch to say selecting the right revenue team for your hotel or organization can be the difference between everyday success and competition-killing success. Here are the most important traits found in great revenue managers:
1. Analytical skills are tops
Of course, revenue management is about the numbers. So-called “quant jocks” make really good revenue managers because they’re good at corralling data, extrapolating it and making key decisions based on the numbers. The best RMs also have strong grounding in all areas of the hotel—especially those that produce revenues and profits. Working in operations, accounting, sales, marketing or other departments before getting involved in revenue strategy is one way to do it, but it’s not the only way. Revenue pros need to take the time to meet with as many other managers and associates in the hotel as possible to get to know their frustrations, challenges and opportunities. Other than the GM, the revenue manager should have the deepest knowledge of what’s happening in the hotel or company.
2. It takes guts
The best revenue managers are also risk-takers. It doesn’t mean they’re risky for risk’s sake or to get a thrill; rather, they have a creative side that’s able to review trends and see patterns that might not be obvious to others. They’re also able to hold on to these ambiguities while seeing them through in their theories. Sometimes risks don’t work out, but RMs must not be afraid to fail, or as someone told me, they should be able to “fall down seven times and get up eight.”
3. Be able to manage up
Analyzing data and trends to develop sometimes-risky strategies only counts if the revenue manager can sell his or her story. This ability to manage up requires verbal and written skills. Most of all, revenue managers need to be politicians to button-hole, cajole and arm-twist peers and superiors to understand and implement their points of view. Other times, skilled negotiation is required to work with other department heads to implement new ideas and strategies. It’s often at meetings where the power of persuasion is most crucial. In making presentations, RMs must be able to help other, less-numbers-oriented managers understand the data and why it relates to their functions and success. It’s sometimes a tough task to make data come alive, but revenue managers must be able to do so every day.
4. Pride and humility
Revenue management can be a thankless job. When your projections and conclusions are on the mark, it’s easy for someone else to take the credit. On the other hand, blame for failure in the form of reduced revenues, or losing business to competitors often comes back to revenue management. It’s important, then, to let others in the organization know of your successes without crowing too loudly. Speak up for your successes but also place them in the context of the teamwork required by all departments and personnel. It’s important to be able to quantify successes in metrics that are simple for all to understand but which clearly demonstrate the results, while also highlighting your role.
5. Think like an entrepreneur
Revenue managers carry a lot of responsibility for the financial success of a hotel or company. They need to always think like an owner: What impact will this decision have today, next month and in the long term? Every decision made by an RM can affect the financial outcome of a hotel. Even the most well thought out strategies at times need to be corrected mid-course. If an RM has his or her finger on the pulse of the operation, on-the-fly course corrections are possible. Again, risk taking is important but a revenue manager should consider the risk in a broader context. They should say to themselves, “If I owned this hotel, would I take this risk?” If the answer is yes, quick action should follow.
Thanks to Duetto’s global customer success and solution engineer teams for sharing their knowledge on this topic—especially Liberty Wright, Philip Niemann, Vincent Cusma, Nevin Reed and Howard Copen for offering the wisdom and expertise that comes from their more than 30 years of on-property experience and numerous hospitality degrees and revenue management training programs.
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