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The Future of a Revenue Manager 2.0 - Part Human, Part Computer, All Profits


By Jean Francois Mourier 
January 25, 2012

What will the Revenue Manager of the future look like?

That seems to be a question on everyone’s mind recently. And while the debate rages on, one thing is undeniable: tomorrow’s Revenue Managers will be the decision makers who skillfully balance the power of technology (analytics and rate optimization) with a return to human intuition, and manage the data influx in the process.

A recent article in the Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management cites a survey of 487 professionals and found the future is going to be much more strategic in nature and will be more strongly driven by technology – a point that I’ve been making all along. The article’s data pointed out that as technology evolves, analytical pricing models and social networking/mobile technology are going to have a major impact on the future.

Experts in the hospitality industry agree with me that consumers are increasingly, tech-savvy shoppers. Already schooled in the way in which mobile has radically altered the air travel booking and in-flight entertainment experience, hotels guests are using everything from social media to online travel agents, (OTAs) to seek out and locate the best value. With the continued emergence of e-commerce, social media, and travel review sites, RM’s have even more to consider than just occupancy and profitability. They have to think about what motivates these traveling consumers, both by industry factors and by media influence.

Does this sound a bit basic? Surprisingly it’s not. The role of the Revenue Manager has changed remarkably since the 1970s as RMs, were once thought of as nothing more than “number crunchers” or a collection of professionals whose favorite word as it related to budgets was “no.”  The role of the RM has come a very long way since then and going forward in 2012, here’s what I would like to see succinctly in Revenue Manager 2.0:

  • Technological skills and knowledge: RMs of tomorrow must be adeptly skilled at culling numerous data across a number of new systems. Moreover, behavioral knowledge and an understanding of the web and mobile-based hotel booker are essential.
  • An acceptance that the “new normal” for global market conditions is one of rapidly changing dynamics: past data is only one part of today’s – and tomorrow’s – revenue equation. What’s more, the shrinking booking window, thanks to these above-mentioned technological changes, is likely to continue putting pressure on RMs to calculate the ideal room rate.
  • Being cost effective is not only about revenue, but profit: This includes revenue from other departments, variable costs versus fixed costs, and the importance of overall package deals and incentives. This includes heightened internal communications among leaders within a hotel’s management structure. For instance, RMs should be fully aware of what plans and seasonal traveler engagement initiatives are scheduled in the months ahead.
  • Revenue 2.0: Related to the above bullet, next generation RMs must always be on the lookout for new revenue streams. Mobile bookings were garnering much attention in 2011. Social media, while important for conversation generation, has yet to be fully monetized. How will that medium evolve in the next 12 months and what else is on the horizon? What’s the cost-benefit analysis of launching a mobile-enabled web page versus an app and is having both redundant? Admittedly, there’s no single answer to these questions and no one size fits all so the sooner RMs and hotel executives begin this conversation, the better.
Heightened communication skills, adaptability and a synthesis of both human intuition and data management skills can be boiled down to one word:  leadership. Revenue managers must be leaders, plain and simple. This data-driven approach transition is three-pronged: It’s part human, part computer, and – to as much as can be expected – all profits.  A channel-mix for your property is also the RM’s chief responsibility now and in the future:  their market intelligence is vital to determine the optimal market yield.  Using rate-optimization and automated software will provide guidance well beyond their human experience.

While 2011 has largely ended on a revenue and occupancy positive note, (occupancy continues to nudge back toward 60 percent) travel dollars for business and pleasure remain tight. What’s more, regional or local travel by car in some cases has supplanted air travel. Thus, everything from business conferences to family getaways have grown more modest and local, and more value is being sought. App-driven flash sales or daily deals may improve occupancy rates in the short term, but do little to place a hotel in the budgetary black.
 
In the end, a revenue manager’s job is never done. Whether it’s uncertain economic headwinds, or some other challenge just off in the distance, effective pricing strategies must always be more than putting heads in beds. Simply stated, technology can only benefit your hotel if you have the right Revenue Manager at the helm.
 
With that said, I am very optimistic about the future of the profession of revenue managers and believe that the next decade will offer exciting opportunities for those entering or already in the field.  And if you are an RM reading this article, I would love to get your feedback on the challenges and opportunities facing your profession as we kick off 2012.  Feel free to email me jfmourier@revparguru.com.


Jean Francois Mourier is CEO and Founder of REVPAR GURU, a company that provides automated revenue and rate optimization solutions. REVPAR GURU’s real-time pricing solution combined with automated online distribution helps hotels maximize occupancy and increase their profits. The company’s Dynamic Pricing Engine, an integrated revenue optimization and pricing solution, adds unprecedented power and real-time adaptability to the pricing process, leaving revenue managers more time to run their hotels, make better decisions and do what they do more efficiently. You can reach Jean Francois through www.revparguru.com or by calling 1.786.478.3500.
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Contact: 

REVPAR GURU INC. 
786-478- 3500 
www.revparguru.com

 

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Also See: A New Year's Resolution? Automate Pricing Strategies to Embrace the Changing Face of the Booking Process / Jean Francois Mourier / December 2011

Big Booking Rates Brimming With Holiday Cheer: What the Good News Means For the Hotel Industry / Jean Francois Mourier / December 2011

Demystifying the Magical Pricing Potion / Jean Francois Mourier / November 2011

Getting Into Bed With The Enemy: Like Any Relationship, It Pays To Know Your Partner / Jean Francois Mourier / October 2011

Hotel Revenues on the Rise for 2011 Holiday Season / Jean Francois Mourier / October 2011

Shifting From Manual to Automatic in Revenue Management / Jean Francois Mourier / July 2011

Going with GOPPAR? Not so fast, RevPAR is still the best metric for revenue managers / Jean Francois Mourier / June 2011

Protecting Your Brand from Discounts; The Real Economic Impact of Losing Rate Discipline / Jean Francois Mourier / June 2011

A Tale of Two Strategies; Contrasting boutique and chain hotel revenue management approaches / Jean Francois Mourier / May 2011

The Great Debate: Humans vs. Automated RMS: Their strengths, weaknesses and what responsibilities are best suited for each / Jean Francois Mourier / April 2011

When Every Second Counts: Secrets for making the most out of the new last-minute booking trend / Jean Francois Mourier / April 2011

Rev Up your RevPAR In 4 Different Ways / Jean Francois Mourier / March 2011

Pricing Beyond the Comp Set And other new pricing strategies that really work / Jean Francois Mourier / March 2011

Schooled By Wall Street; Using stock market principles for optimum hotel revenue management / Jean Francois Mourier / February 2011

System Underload; Inefficiencies in RMS Systems are Costing the Industry Dearly / Jean Francois Mourier / February 2011

Revenue Management: Back to Basics: The Importance of Revenue Management Principles / Jean Francois Mourier / January 2011

Revenue Management: Profiting from the Industry’s Growth in 2011 / Jean Francois Mourier / January 2011

Home For the Holidays: Tending to Hotel Operations When Your Revenue Manager is on Vacation / Jean Francois Mourier / December 2010

The World of Revenue Management: Past, Present & Future; Looking back on hotel revenue management in 2010 and what the industry is expecting for 2011 / Jean Francois Mourier / December 2010

All Science, No Guesswork: The Benefits of Algorithms in Hotel Revenue Management / Jean Francois Mourier / November 2010

The Great Debate: Humans vs. Automated RMS: Their strengths, weaknesses and what responsibilities are best suited for each / Jean Francois Mourier / October 2010

Rate Parity vs. Rate Integrity—What is Rate Integrity? / Jean Francois Mourier / October 2010

A New Day For Timeshares; Using automated RM systems for running your timeshare company / Jean Francois Mourier / October 2010

Best Practices in Revenue Management, Part 3; Automation, Channel Management and Decision Making / Jean Francois Mourier / September 2010

Best Practices in Revenue Management, Part 2; Rate discipline, the leveraging of real-time information, and price prediction / Jean Francois Mourier / August 2010

Best Practices in Revenue Management, Part 1; General revenue management and strategic pricing / Jean Francois Mourier / July 2010

The Irresistibility of the Obvious; How a new trend in revenue management and metrics is missing the point / Jean Francois Mourier / July 2010

Pricing Beyond the Compset - And other new pricing strategies that really work / Jean Francois Mourier / June 2010

A Tale of Two Strategies; Contrasting boutique and chain hotel revenue management approaches / Jean Francois Mourier / June 2010

Historical Pricing Is History, Well, Not Exactly; Examining the Role Historical Pricing Should Be Playing in Hotels’ Pricing Strategies / Jean Francois Mourier / May 2010

Tipping Your Cap (Rate) - Why hotel owners need to pay attention to RevPAR / Jean Francois Mourier / April 2010
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