What is a revenue manager?
First used by the airline industry, the revenue management expertise was introduced in the Hotel Industry by Marriott in late 1980. Since then, the position did not stop to evolve to adapt to growing expectations. The multitude of technologies available to customers and businesses and the increase of online distribution channels, do not limit any more the revenue manager role to open and close availability and rates. The evolution from fix to dynamic pricing strategies, from tactical to strategic expertise, coupled with customer behaviour changes, urged revenue managers to develop multifunctional skills.
First known as a reservation manager and then yield manager, the position changed of title over time, to be called revenue manager or revenue strategist. The revenue manager’s career path sees new horizons as ownership, asset management and real estate investment companies start to recruit revenue professionals, as well as other sectors such as the financial or medical industry. Hiring a revenue management consulting firm presents new advantages for business to benefit from their expertise and partial perspective, and better control their staffing costs.
On top of being responsible for setting prices to maximize hotel’s profitability, the revenue manager must have the ability to instruct hotel’s management team on business optimization and to convince them of the reliability of his strategy. The growing complexity of the role reflects the increasing demand of hotel operators to rely on revenue management expertise. Even though on-property revenue managers easily exchange with the hotel’s department and corporate revenue managers mainly deal with calls and emails to be updated, both are required to communicate directly with owner and assets managers. Today, expectations on revenue manager are to be a real leader, influencer and communicator.
Skills that will be required by any hotel revenue manager in the future
The revenue manager stands out from all the existing roles thanks to his understanding of the costs of running a business, and its up-to-date knowledge of the different distribution channels and segment’s needs. The revenue manager is somehow a central interlocutor with online travel agencies, sales team, marketing team, operational departments and management board. That is why a performing revenue manager would show the following attributes:
Eye and hears for details
A good observer and listener to be able to see what is hidden, read the story behind the figures, understand environments and the cause and effects relations.
With strong verbal and visual communication and his authority, the revenue manager knows how to convince his audience to accept his rate recommendations. Thanks to his speech structure and forecasting ability he can only gather more support to reach his goals. Revenue managers need to ensure that a revenue culture is growing at any level of the organization.
Problem-solver and agile even in an unknown environment, ready to adapt quickly to business changes, restrictions and expectations.
Understand to what extent technology can help to optimize revenue and how works the configuration elements set in the most system such as CRS, PMS and RMS. Be aware of technology’s weaknesses to know when to take over.
Interacting at a different level across the hotel requires the ability to gain trust and to know how to build relationships. As a result, the revenue manager succeeds to use communicative and motivation techniques to create a common goal at each associate level.
The aptitude to identify data or strategy with the quickest and highest contribution to the goal’s achievement. With a more and more complex role, it is important for revenue managers to be organized and to have a big picture thinking.
Being competitive is important for revenue managers to always be willing to get better and not take any achievements for granted. With an industry which changes very rapidly, revenue managers must constantly worry about their competitive position to maintain their lead.
In a very competitive field, creativity is key. Revenue management expertise is still under development and will not stop to grow while revenue managers keep on using their gut instinct and open-mindedness.
How to know if you are doing right
As a technology ally, revenue managers know how much they can rely on technology to effectively track and identify successful measures. Only what is measurable can be manageable and help any organizations to have an understanding of their day-to-day performance and to identify opportunities for improvements. It is important to remind that each company can have its own set of performance indicators within their environment.
Assessing only financial outcomes can lead revenue managers to misunderstand the hotel ecosystem and prevent them from ensuring consistency in the long term. A good performance system, called as well ‘Balanced Scorecard’, should focus on both financial and non-financial measures and present a balance between the results from past efforts, and the results that drive performance. The drivers encompass:
Internal Process perspective
Revenue management team can not only rely on their expertise but as well on the help of advanced systems. But are they reliable? Do they answer to the organization’s needs? Is there a big accuracy gap when forecasting? Longer lead times and stable patterns are easier to forecast, but is the use of last-minute bookings optimized?
Learning and Growth
What about the turnover in the team? Is there a common goal for all teams of the hotel? Is a revenue culture promoted in the organization?
This approach relates to customer and market’s objectives: those targets translate the revenue management ability to understand segment’s needs and expectations to capture more of the market demand and willingness to pay. Compared to the competitive set, performance metrics can include brand awareness (social media interactions) or market share index. Even more important Guest Satisfaction and excellent customer service should remain at the centre of all attention.
Both ADR and occupancy contribute to revenue optimization but don’t fairly assess the hotel financial performance if they are considered individually. RevPAR is a valuable indicator and best used when comparing performance over time in a well-defined competitive set as well as:
- Net RevPAR: Revenue per available room after deduction of all acquisition costs (commissions and sales and marketing). Is the distribution channel strategy profitable?
- TRevPAR: Total revenue per available room: Does the strategy encompass all revenue centres of the hotel?
- RevPAG: Revenue per available Guest: Is the asset utilization/Investment strategy contributing to capture the most of customer’s willingness to pay?
2021: New year, new trends
The year 2020 ends on a bitter note as the Covid-19 pandemic turned the hospitality industry upside down. In times of crisis, human beings turn back to their primary fighting instinct to reimagine themselves and let a more prepared world to the next generation. Also, this is the opportunity for revenue managers to revisit their past strategies.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, business travels dramatically dropped while the domestic leisure demand appears as the central point of hope for hoteliers. The new demand landscape requires revenue managers to be more focus on current and forward-looking data, rather than historical. Those appear less reliable than before as customers’ behaviours specifically changed in the response of the pandemic crisis.
The challenge is therefore to analyse the existing and new demand patterns to determine how to create new revenue streams. This was the case of Accor, which launched the Accor Day Stays Concept for remote workers to book a room for a single day or five-day package, from 9 am to 9 pm. Close collaboration with the sales team would be more needed to identify the long-term demand rise.
Finally, technology and smart-automation would continue to strive within the revenue management field and support revenue managers in establishing long-term prescriptive strategy.
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