Building the Bench: Developing the Next Generation of Revenue Leaders

By Harry Carr Corporate Director of Revenue Management, Pivot Hotels & Resorts | October 07, 2018

At the HSMAI Revenue Optimization Conference this year, there was a "great debate" over the future of Revenue Management. Will hotels in the future rely on Directors of Revenue Management (DORM) to implement the strategy, or will machines rule the world as revenue management systems such as Ideas, Duetto, and One Yield become more and more sophisticated?

I was firmly in the camp that believes that DORM's are here to stay, but there is no doubt that advanced algorithms using the enormous volume of data now available will make decisions more quickly and accurately than the human mind. Fortunately for those of us in the discipline, we are not merely number crunchers; the skills needed for success have evolved along with the technology.

The changing landscape of hotel revenue management requires a new approach to training and development in which the next generation of revenue leaders cannot be chosen solely based on their knowledge of the property management system (PMS) and central reservations system (CRS). Reservations Supervisors or Managers and Revenue Analysts will continue to be a pipeline for talent, with the most critical skills including communication to all stakeholders, driving hotel revenue and generating profits for owners, willingness to take risks, and the ability to lead integrated marketing efforts. The hospitality industry has always valued the training and development of the Sales team, but it is now time to expand that focus to the DORM's.


One of the traditional weaknesses of revenue leaders is translating highly technical revenue strategies to those that may not share the love of data, such as the Director of Sales and Marketing who doesn't want to stare at 15 spreadsheets. Asset Managers need to understand how market conditions, pace, and business mix are impacting their pocketbook or stock price, often in meetings that are limited to an hour a week. General Managers need to understand how occupancy percentage will determine staffing levels and how distribution costs will impact flow through.

The first step to improving communication is to open the weekly revenue meetings, profit and loss reviews, and ownership meetings to a broader audience. Exposing less seasoned managers to the entire process pulls back the curtain, revealing the mystery of pricing and positioning while adding diverse voices to the conversation. The sharing of skills is also an essential part of developing well-rounded team members, and at Pivot Hotels & Resorts we have paired Revenue Managers of varied yet overlapping backgrounds that communicate on an informal and regular basis. From a practical standpoint, the buddy system helps cover vacations and provides backup, but we have also found the exchange of ideas offers a perspective from outside the individual hotels.

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Coming up in January 2019...

Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.