cogs with a lighbulb in the middle reflecting the need to reinvent how hotels do revenue management

There has never been a better opportunity to take a chance and create the ideal revenue optimization structure with minimum challenges for the team and maximize potential returns for an organization.  How do we do that?

NB: This is an article from Strategic Solution Partners

Approach this as a full-on project, with a detailed critical road map with specific timelines and target dates.  This approach can be used up and down any level of the organization, including corporate, regional, ownership, and/or property level.

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Before beginning, think through what is missing now in your organization.  What focus has been given to each revenue stream?  How is each one performing? Are the different revenue generating disciplines working with each other, or is each division or department working in silos?  Are there areas where underperformance is rearing its ugly head.

Brainstorm these questions at the leadership level, reviewing each revenue stream and creating a few broad categories of focus.  Some areas that spring to mind are rooms (of course), food and beverage (including restaurants, banquets, & catering, in-room dining, and meeting space), wellness (spa, fitness centers, fitness and meditation classes, in-room fitness equipment, etc.), leisure activities (golf, watersports, pool cabanas, and retail sales) to name a few examples.  There are plenty areas of opportunity…

By going through the above exercise, you will realize how siloed our organizations are, especially when driving revenues. There is a strategy, or at least you would hope there is one, for rooms, another one for catering, another one for spa, and so on. The tried-and-true method is to harness the driving of revenues in the same way we organized the oversight of expenses long ago with the Director of Finance, and all its title variations.  We must, however, change our focus on revenues to more than just pricing if we truly want to optimize every opportunity.

Great, Now We Have Our Needs, What Next?

As we all know, there has been a massive exodus of talented professionals from the hospitality industry, particularly in the revenue management discipline, to other industries, such as the medical industry. This makes complete sense, because while our industry was going through the worse crisis ever, the medical related fields were flourishing because of the impact that COVID 19 has had on healthcare overall.

As we all know, the key to restructuring the revenue processes and leadership, requires qualified talent, which leads us to the quandary of how we build the new organization model we are talking about since part of our talent, has left the industry.

Noting the above, a few things to consider.  The extremely qualified leaders are now few and far between.  A quick review of the DORM roles available on LinkedIn® and Indeed® show that good talent is hard to find, not to mention the numerous articles published over the past few months lamenting the same.  With that in mind, the Revenue Organization needs to solidify its standing in oversight of ALL REVENUE STREAMS, not just rooms. Just as the financial leader of an organization controls the administrative keys to all expense related fields of the P&L, having one thought leader for all revenue streams will create a unified revenue generating direction for the entire organization.

To showcase what I describe in this article, I will use a large, independent, full-service resort with significant meeting space as an example of an executive committee organization chart.  However, it can be easily modified to all business units, i.e., corporate level, brand, region, or even smaller, less comprehensive revenue generating properties.

Now we have our leader role, let’s define the role’s responsibilities. Inhale and exhale, the list is extensive:

  1. Broad scope, participate at senior leadership level to deliver strategies and define goals on business development, distribution channels, 3rd party partnerships, sales, marketing, food and beverage, valet parking and all other ancillary departments.
  2. Optimize RevPAR (revenue per available room), ARPAR (adjusted revenue per available room) and TRevPar (total revenue per available room) by demand analysis and forecasting.
  3. Set sales strategies, continual review of optimal market mix by season through each revenue stream and across all segments within those streams.
  4. Ownership of all the systems that compile and analyze the data and strategies and provide pertinent updated reporting.

A key to this role will also be creating an organizational structure, so that we’re developing an internal pool of revenue generating talent. The revenue leader will grow into the role because of their inherent nature to analyze and strategize, positioning the revenue optimization discipline to lead this newfound path of organizational revenue focus.

The great news about combining different revenue generating departments into this one leader is that strategizing, and forecasting look similar across all disciplines.   All departments have competitors to monitor for services, promotions, pricing, availability, and market positioning.  Additionally, each division has a set of similar KPI’s.  RevPAR becomes RevPASH (per available seat hour) in restaurants, meeting space becomes RevPAS/M (per available square foot/meter), and RevPATH (per available treatment room) for the wellness facilities.

Is this beginning to feel profound?  Are any of the Executive Committee leaders getting nervous?  Maybe, but that’s OK. It’s clear that with the above definition, the organizational structure will change, but all roles are still invaluable. Each leader is a subject matter expert and will assist in the driving revenues, with just a slight change in mind set.  Since we have involved the leadership team in the thought process this far, we hopefully, have removed the surprise element from the change process.

An article published by Kelsey Miller, “5 Critical Steps in the Change Management Process, ” at the Harvard Business School Online, on March 19, 2020 states that once we’ve identified the need for the organization to fine tune, step 3 in change management is  to implement the changes. After the plan has been created, all that remains is to follow the steps outlined within it to implement the required change. Whether that involves changes to the company’s structure, strategy, systems, processes, employee behaviors, or other aspects will depend on the specifics of the initiative.

Ongoing and clear communication of the organization’s vision is critical throughout the implementation process to remind team members why change is being pursued. Also during the implementation process, change managers must be focused on empowering their employees to take the necessary steps to achieve the goals of the initiative. They should also do their best to anticipate roadblocks and prevent, remove, or mitigate them once identified.

Our Plan is Beginning to Take Shape

Now that we have defined our leadership role, it’s almost time to begin the project rollout and to review what a revenue-centric organizational chart may look like.  Changing the process of reviewing operating departments may prove to be more challenging than the revenue generating fields of sales, marketing, and revenue management.  Moving to more of an operating approach and taking the pricing and positioning out of the hands of food and beverage, wellness and other departments isn’t practical.  Of course not!  The implied suggestion here is that the revenue leader is now the go to position for analytics and understanding of the market trends.

Relying on each disciplines subject matter experts, the Chef, the Restaurant Manager, the Spa Director, the Director of Sales, etc. is crucial, as each of these disciplines hold the key to the deeper understandings of the individual departments’ potentials.  In the model below, the revenue optimization leader role takes on oversight of revenue generation, just as the financial leader takes on the expense control oversight, and the general manager has oversight on the overall organization.

With the revenue leader at the helm of generating all top line revenues, as well as high probability forecasting and budgeting of those revenues as well, just how will that org chart flow?  Below is a simple sample.  In this chart, the revenue and financial roles are reflected in the hierarchy so that it is noted that each has responsibility for all departments, Finance for expense control and Revenue for, well, revenue.  

You’re not suggesting that the sales leader report into the revenue discipline.  That seems to be the mainstream thought of a revenue driving organization.  Why is yours different?

Yes, this model does vary from the mainstream thoughts about deploying a Chief Commercial Officer.  While I’m not opposed, especially at a corporate level, I do think regional and property teams benefit from the revenue discipline staying extremely revenue focused.  Let’s examine the sales process in more detail.

There are many layers to the sales leader’s role as it stands today.  Developing the team, helping to achieve sales & catering goals, attending tradeshows, client events, and many times marketing efforts, to name just a few.  With a full plate, the leader sometimes relegates pace, need dates, booking windows, and forecasting to an afterthought.  And well they should.  The best use of a great sales leader is to ensure the team is supported, and time spent with the customers.  By placing the revenue analytics and decisions squarely in the revenue camp, we free up the sales department to do what it does best.  Sell!

The same rings true for the operations departments.  If the revenue leader assists and guides all our departmental revenue strategies, each of these departments are left with more time to manage the operations.  Imagine how guest satisfaction would increase, if   the leader didn’t have to be in the office, bogged down analytics, but out with their teams and customers.  A win-win, in my book.

The other anomaly to notice is the marketing leader, (or corporate entity) now works directly with the revenue leader in this proposed chart.  The purpose behind the change is so that the marketing efforts are strategized and timed based on the needs of the business and the market, instead of placed in the sales team, where we lean towards marketing around events and holidays, but rarely think about a normal weekday or weekend.

Additionally, the marketing leader provides many analytics that if used correctly will provide valuable intelligence.  Positioning this role under the revenue leader also makes sense from a system and deployment perspective, as both positions are highly in tune with the digital impact and potential in hospitality.

Let’s Not Forget Business Intelligence

As we are all acutely aware, having great Business Intelligence isn’t a strength on our hospitality industry SWOT analysis. The revenue leader, as well as the department heads, to be successful, must have insight into ALL DATA POINTS to perform the in-depth analysis needed.  Not an easy task since we’re working with multiple systems, property management system, revenue management system, distribution systems, reservations system, point of sale for food and beverage, points of sale for golf, wellness, and ancillary facilities.  And of course, the financial system where all the recording is stored for the profit and loss statement.

Ultimately, having the right BI tool will produce an extraordinary amount of revenue by providing insight to the larger picture.  In my opinion, this one automation of conglomerated information could easily provide more ROI than several other more common automations combined.  Luckily for our industry, there is a lot of talent in the newly graduated workforce that can assist us in the development of a integrative business intelligence arm of the business. 

Final Thoughts…

One of the great things about this structure is that when a revenue leader is communicating with each discipline regarding revenue trends, processes, and strategic ideas with tactical deployment, the effect is teaching all disciplines about the intricacies of managing revenue.  In turn, this will provide us the ability of identifying those who have a panache for strategy and analysis, providing future revenue leaders from all disciplines.  Not to mention the improved revenue results, and as any Director of Finance will tell you, every extra dollar flows to the bottom line.

In summary, once there is agreement that the time is now to push forward with the revenue agenda, educating the team, and finding the right individuals to lead, the generation efforts will fall into place.  Ensure your focus is on the new revenue leader role’s job description and be mindful of the impact this restructure and elevated revenue role will have on your organization as you move forward into this brave new world.

Read more articles from Strategic Solution Partners

NB: This was re-produced with permission from HotelExecutive