While more media highlight women’s ability to drive a successful business, this article focuses on women leaders in the hospitality sector and specifically women in revenue management. Indeed, the evolution of the revenue manager role encouraged the industry to look for multitasking and proactive leaders.
Women in Revenue Management and in the Hospitality Sector
Diversity is a priority and an induced necessity for the hospitality sector, given its operations and human interactions’ complexity at all business levels. Some claim that diversity is the proper ADN of the industry. That is why many players are working towards more diversity, such as the Intercontinental Hotel Group who launched at the occasion of the International Women’s Day the RISE program, to inspire more female leaders to become General Manager (IHG, 2017) or Marriott with their Marriott’s Women Leadership Development Initiative launched in 2010 focusing on increasing the presence of women at the highest level of management and in other decision-making positions (Marriott, 2020). In 2020, the hotel sub-sector accounted for 25.5% of female senior executives and is pushing to increase female representation in the coming years. The hospitality Industry set the goal to have 33% of its senior positions held by women and is expected to reach it by the end of 2021 (PwC; The MBS Group, 2020).
Gender diversity creates an innovative workforce and contribute to business success. According to McKinsey & Company, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above respective national industry medians. The Castell Project attests to those tendencies by pointing out that companies with female CEOs and CFOs generate superior stock price compared to the market average, and that firms with higher gender diversity at their board of directors are more profitable and larger than firms with low gender diversity” (Castell Project, 2020). The expectations on women’s shoulders do not stop growing, and their determination did not finish surprising us.
How the Role of Revenue Manager Elevates Women
While several studies aim to evaluate how women evolve within upper levels of the hotel industry, it has been shown that women are more likely to get leadership roles in revenue management or asset management. Indeed, in 2019, the Castell Project found that women were holding at least half of managerial and executive positions in this field despite its relatively recent emergence, as well as in human resources, sales and marketing (Castell Project, 2019).
Thanks to its understanding of business costs structure, distribution channel management and day-to-day operations, the revenue manager made herself essential to optimize hotel profitability. Yet, revenue managers are challenged in regard to both their influencing and communicating skills, to provide solutions to the growing complexity of their role.
Why to Look For a Female Revenue Manager?
Most of the time, the preconceived idea we have from a job shapes the opinion we have of who would best fit the role. Analysing how different people handle the same responsibilities can outline what are the job essential skills. Similarly, job expectations are evolving according to the persons in charge of them.
Female and male traits differences gave the role of revenue manager a whole new dimension. Their respective abilities to communicate and reach objectives show to what extent they both fit for this role. Women revenue managers are notably noticed for the following skills:
The Hay Group showed that women outperform men in 11 of 12 main emotional intelligence competencies, including self-awareness, empathy, adaptability, coaching & mentoring and conflict management (Korn Ferry, 2016). Soft skills provide key advantages for female revenue managers when looking for consensus. Indeed, revenue managers are somehow central interlocutors with the hotel departments.
They must sometimes instruct the hotel’s management team or convince them of their strategy’s reliability. While empathy does not rhyme with weakness, it can become a strength when negotiating or leading teams. Hence, women are more likely to reach their goals by gaining the trust of their audience.
Women are especially known for their perseverance and persistence to reach their goals. Their natural tenacity is a strength particularly looked after in a competitive environment. Similarly, their determination allows them to master in negotiation, such as with travel agencies, and in finding competitive revenue streams. Women skills can be beneficial in lots of more areas in the long term, such as in forecasting or last-minute pricing. Also, not taking achievements for granted push them to go beyond their expectations and drive team results. In a nutshell, women defy the odds.
This is not the last time that we will hear about ‘agility’. According to KPMG, 82% of women see agility as the new currency for a successful business and as a response to adapt to the changing business environment (KPMG, 2019). Indeed, while agility has always been a necessity for revenue managers, the Covid-19 crisis increased its need for limiting expenses while retaining customers.
In this context, women know how to meticulously handle crises and become real opportunity experts. Their sense of prioritization and communication help them to quickly identify profitable strategies. And as we say, agile leaders create agile organizations. According to McKinsey & Company, agile companies are organizations that can renew themselves, adapt, change, and succeed in a rapidly changing, ambiguous, turbulent environment” (McKinsey & Company, 2015). It is obvious that women’s agility can help to adapt last-minute rates, review segmentation or leverage the use of technologies, necessary skills to be a successful revenue manager in today’s environment.
Leaders of Tomorrow
The increasing number of women on the international stage testifies of women emancipation. As a result, young women are encouraged to stand out from the crowd and to follow the path of their role model. It encourages institutions and employers to develop, promote and retain women in our Industry. Along with this desire, the number of women in Hospitality Business Schools is rising. As an example, three of the most recognized Hospitality Universities show to have a majority of female students enrolled:
- University of Essex, Hospitality Management: 62% women (Hospitality Management, s.d.)
- Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne: 58% women (EHL, 2019)
- Cornell University: 52% women (College Factual, s.d.)
According to a four-year analysis, females represent the majority of the students attending hotel investment conferences (Castell Project, 2020). These findings point out the willingness of women to get on stage and to showcase their abilities as leaders.
In addition, conferences are a great opportunity to gain visibility and strengthen social networks, that is why the increasing participation of women says a lot about their determination to be more present in panel discussions, network events and be out there to shape the industry we are all so enthusiastic about.
- Castell Project. (2019). Women In Hospitality Industry Leadership. Retrieved from https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5c886e36c2ff61063923506b/t/5c8c770f7817f7739360cbef/1552709394938/WIHL_2018ReportFull_1_16-Pages.pdf
- Castell Project. (2020). Women in Hospitality Industry Leadership 2020. Castell Project. Retrieved from https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5c886e36c2ff61063923506b/t/5e38483d4bfa0a28031252aa/1580746816751/2020+Women+in+Hospitality+Industry+Leadership+by+Castell.pdf
- College Factual. (n.d.). Cornell Student Population Stats. Retrieved from College Factual: https://www.collegefactual.com/colleges/cornell-university/student-life/diversity/
- EHL. (2019). EHL by the numbers. Retrieved from EHL: https://www.ehlgroup.com/en/about-ehl/ehl-by-numbers
- Hospitality Management. (n.d.). Retrieved from The Uni Guide: https://www.theuniguide.co.uk/university-of-essex-e70/courses/hospitality-management-fda-2021-0179a7756ecf
- IHG. (2017, 03 08). IHG unveils RISE initiative to inspire and mentor female leaders. Retrieved from IHG Hotels and Resorts: https://www.ihgplc.com/en/news-and-media/news-releases/2017/ihg-unveils-rise-initiative-to-inspire-and-mentor-female-leaders
- Korn Ferry. (2016, 03 16). Korn Ferry. Retrieved from NEW RESEARCH SHOWS WOMEN ARE BETTER AT USING SOFT SKILLS CRUCIAL FOR EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP AND SUPERIOR BUSINESS PERFORMANCE, FINDS KORN FERRY: https://www.kornferry.com/about-us/press/new-research-shows-women-are-better-at-using-soft-skills-crucial-for-effective-leadership
- KPMG. (2019). New Market New Power: Global Female Leaders Outlook 2019. Management Circle.
- McKinsey & Company. (2015, 12). The keys to organizational agility. Retrieved from McKinsey & Company: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/the-keys-to-organizational-agility
- PwC; The MBS Group. (2020). From Intention to Action: Diversity in Hospitaity, Travel and Leisure The 2020 WiHTL Annual Report. The MBS Group.
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