Five Experiences that Build the Revenue Manager Résumé
The traditional career path for most Revenue Managers is to start in Reservations or the Front Office and then jump into an RM role. While this may be the most efficient process for sourcing RMs, it is not necessarily the most effective.
NB: This is an article from Origin World Labs
Many hotel companies are beginning to realize that great Revenue Management is more about creating value and wealth than it is about uploading rates and creating pace reports. For the latter you just need to learn some technical skills, but for the former you need to be exposed to experiences that are not available to the typical Reservations or the Front Office employee. The best Revenue Managers I have ever met have work experiences that have instilled in them the “business maturity” that is so crucial to the RM profession. Here are the five experiences, in my opinion, that the best RMs share.
#1: Running your own business.
Creating a product or service that increases the size of a bank account is a life altering experience. Whether you succeed or fail, running your own business changes your view of the world and helps you become a person that can quickly separate what’s business from what’s busy-ness. I find that many RMs lose the perspective that the point of their profession is to put more money in the hotel’s bank account. RM is not about systems, reports or websites. It’s about depositing more money in the bank than could have otherwise been deposited if the RM department did not exist. It’s never surprising to me that RMs that have a family business background or have a side business are more practical in their decision making style.
#2: Working at the other extreme of the hotel classes.
In the hotel industry RMs are often pigeonholed into a certain class of property. For example, luxury hotel RMs rarely move into Economy and vice versa. Yet, I have met a few RMs who have worked both ends of the value spectrum and they all have a knowledge base of pricing and promotional tactics that is impressive. They also tend to have a certain “wisdom” about the tactics that work and those that are a waste of time. That’s rarely true for RMs that have only worked within one company or one hotel class.
#3: Working in Finance/Accounting.
Again, the whole point of any activity in a hotel is to increase profit and no where do you get to see how the process of making money happens better than in Finance and Accounting. In my experience, Revenue Managers with a Finance background have more of a “full P&L” perspective than their counterparts who came directly from Operations. It is obvious that making decisions while keeping the Gross Profit in mind is a lot more effective than only thinking about top-line results.
#4: Working in any other industry.
More than most other industries, the hotel business is run by “lifers”. That is, they studied hospitality and then only worked in hospitality. While I appreciate the passion, I have noticed that many hotel managers often lack the ability to “think outside the proverbial box” because they don’t have much to draw on for creative inspiration. Bringing ideas, concepts, and innovations from other industries is critical for the development of any industry. This is specially true for the Revenue Management function which is not only still a developing profession but also sits at the crossroads of many different functions.
Most Revenue Mangers are given a pass when it comes to communications skills because the common perception is that they tell stories through data and charts. Unfortunately, people read their own bias into any analysis, if they can read the analysis at all, therefore it falls on the Revenue Manager to be the Great Explainer. In fact, the best Revenue Managers have almost a “trainer-like” ability to explain and ensure that their explanations are being understood. That goes beyond having good communication skills, it is more like being a great teacher. RMs with teaching or trainer experience are typically curious about how people process information and thus they try to fit their communication style to their audience.
The most effective Revenue Managers have a breadth and depth that goes beyond their profession. That quality is usually the result of having purposefully or accidentally acquired know-how that falls outside of the traditional RM skill set. However, for future RMs to be more effective at creating wealth for their companies, an intentional effort will have to be made to expose them to more business rather than function focused experiences. What’s more, hospitality schools as well as hiring mangers should become more aware of the actual need of the RM profession so that they can also adjust their approach to developing tomorrow’s RM talent.