What Hotel Owners Want at Your Revenue Budget Presentation
Dr. J.M. Perkins interpreted by Bette Midler in the cult Mel Gibson’s movie of year 2000 said
“If you know what women want, you can rule!”.
Being a woman myself, I know what that means…but I also know that besides clichés and commonplaces about women, the phrase hides a universally valid truth.
NB: This is an article from Revenue Acrobats
Budget reviews are epic moments for Revenue Managers: at first there are countless hours spent in team reviews and budget preparation meetings to discuss revenue projections, ADR, volumes, segments, channels and every possible tiny detail to the nitty gritty of the revenue strategic plan.
Then comes the moment to present to the owners the revenue projections with assumptions, statistics, detailed analysis and marketplace considerations.
The Budget presentation ends, the Revenue Manager sits proudly at the other side of the table where the owner is sitting, that says “Thank you, but…”
The epilogue of the perfect revenue budget plan after a year of daily work and experience ends with a but and a senseless stretch in the revenue target that you know already will be impossible to reach.
Managing the owners’ expectations and leading an effective Budget review requires strong communication skills together with empathy and prediction. Dear Revenue Manager put on your magic hat: if you know what owners want, you can rule. And when I say “want” I do not mean to give them what they expect in terms of revenue target, but what they expect to hear and see when you will be presenting.
Here are my tips for a badass Revenue Manager’s Budget presentation:
- Start positively: Provide a brief overview of the current year, highlight the revenue achievements and success stories. Bring evidence on how you exceeded (or you are addressing) any challenges or market downturns. Always show proactiveness and awareness of what is happening in your market.
- Big picture and key highlights: The common error in business reviews is to get lost in detail when not asked for. Once you provided the overview and big picture of your economic performance, concentrate on the key main drivers. Owners will ask you about the details anyway, so let them do that at the appropriate time without feeding them with too many unnecessary (or not interesting for them at that stage) details.
- Lead the presentation: One thing to avoid is having your colleagues jump in while you are presenting. Revenue management is a cross functional discipline but make sure that you and your teammates respect each other’s. Give yourselves a nod or a polite “I will pass the question to…” before answering anything that is not pertinent to your role. Talking over one another’s or worse, unintentionally contradicting each other can have bad consequences as your owners will have selected listening (!) and will hear only what is convenient for them.
- Translate complex things into understandable concepts: Revenue Managers have the power of data and analytics but don’t assume that any person sitting at the table should be entitled to have the same. Complex concepts or too much detailed information will lose the listener’s attention. You might miss the opportunity to deliver a key information that should not be oversighted.
- Conclusions and commitment: End your Budget presentation with shared commitment – revenue management is not a one man show and spending a few words highlighting that your goals have been shared and agreed with the whole team together is important. Avoid being overoptimistic or too concerned, if you set those objectives that means that you know you can achieve them. Not less, not more. Emphasize it, however be proactive on the fact that should the conditions change, you will do your best to exceed the goals – just not as per current outlook (hope is not a strategy )
Finally, questions from owners will come and you must be prepared for anything. I was taught to read my revenue plan putting myself in the shoes of a dummy reader: ask yourself all possible questions, doubts, whys …even what looks like a very silly or irrelevant question – as no question is silly, remember that.
If you are prepared and provide an immediate answer, you deliver confidence.
If you do not know the answer straight away, don’t panic and don’t get nervous. Just ask for a little more time to get back on that.
If you get contradicted, never show defensiveness or irritation: that would only have your counterpart to leverage your weakness. Answer with facts and figures, numbers speak.
Now you gave your owners what they wanted:
awareness + confidence= trust.
What did we say about the perfect Revenue manager? Excel nerd? Analytical? Tech savvy?
If you miss on the Effective communication and Leadership skills, you will miss on your Budget goals. Guaranteed.