What to look for in a hotel revenue manager

By Digna Kolar  

Following the events of the past two years, it’s easy to see that hospitality is transitioning into a new era. Guest preferences are changing, and technology is giving operators more room to run hotels their way. With so much shifting around in hospitality, it’s time for established revenue leaders and fresh-faced revenue managers alike to research and fully understand the necessary competence, qualifications and certifications required for success in today’s marketplace.

Today’s most adept revenue optimizers see this new era as an opportunity to hone their skills and find new ways to enhance revenue and profitability, and those looking to grow within the field have a clearer path to career highs than ever before. But what should hoteliers really look for in selecting their next revenue manager? And what sort of experience and expertise should the revenue management class of 2022 and beyond seek out?

Staffing in a competitive market
In today’s upended labor market, it is invaluable to have the right people driving profitability at your properties. Employers don’t have the time for lengthy onboarding and training periods for new workers, and hiring managers are looking for green flags signifying skilled revenue professionals. Proven experience is a hot commodity. Certifications can also help with this process by narrowing the field of applicants to focus on those who can show their credentials.

What revenue management system (RMS) are your applicants trained to use? How much experience do they have using this system in a business environment? Does their operations experience come from working with a single hotel or a cluster of properties? All these factors will help operators identify the best person for the job.

The optimal revenue strategy today changes shape depending on a variety of circumstances, from the hotel’s positioning to the number of other owned properties in the same portfolio. The most important element hoteliers should consider when pursuing revenue managers is whether or not they understand where they play a part in growing profits and driving commercial strategy. This can differ between systems, segments and fields. As a result, hoteliers will be relying on certifications and relevant career milestones to make hiring decisions in the coming year.

On the ground
As hoteliers like to say, you can teach skills, but you can’t teach passion. Revenue leaders must have an appetite for experimentation and a willingness to test against their expectations in search of new, valuable insights. Sometimes this means looking beyond their current setting for new ways to gain skills and validate this expertise throughout the industry.

One thing revenue managers can do today to make themselves stand out in the labor market is improve their ability to deliver the message behind their findings. Revenue management in 2022 and beyond will require a proactive approach in order to combat rising competition and uncertainty. New COVID variants continue to occur, while at the same time international travel prepares to resume. Finding new ways to look at data impacting specific segments will be vital going forward, and revenue managers should be able to easily explain the data at work behind the scenes to hotel executives and stakeholders.

Who represents your hotel’s most valuable guests? What drives their bookings locally? How are other hotels in your area impacting your ability to drive rates for these guests? What is bottlenecking your rates?

Even if revenue managers can answer these questions and strategize around their conclusions, executing on these strategies is difficult if operators don’t understand the context behind them. Learning to become a better storyteller with your data is a key part of affecting change and improving revenue.

In the classroom
If the next wave of hotel revenue managers is looking for ways to draw attention to themselves in a crowded labor market, one of the best ways is to become well-versed in the revenue technology available and the variety of revenue processes and team structures that exist across all hotel types and sizes. Students should also research the different types of revenue management approaches, from clustered oversight to single-system configurations, and understand the expectations of each.

Speak with current revenue managers and hotel operators to understand the company’s culture, challenges and drivers behind hotel revenue today, particularly beyond bookings. These interactions can help build a concrete base for future goals once on property and can help highlight the gaps in a hotel’s pricing strategy.

Empower yourself and your team
As is often true in hospitality, curiosity, enthusiasm and a drive for more are the most important attributes to look for in new revenue managers. This is becoming even truer as technology progresses to the point where researching, clarifying and displaying new information has become second nature.

Revenue managers have more tools at their disposal than ever before, but that is only part of the job. A desire for innovation, natural inquisitiveness and an openness to collaboration are all vital attributes for the revenue manager of tomorrow.

Digna Kolar is director industry consulting, IDeaS.

This is a contributed piece to Hotel Business, authored by an industry professional. The thoughts expressed are the perspective of the bylined individual.