How to elevate the people behind your revenue

Revenue optimization has long been a property-defining role for hotel organizations, yet revenue professionals can often feel distant from the hotels they work with. Recognizing and elevating the people behind your hotel’s revenue performance is as vital as it is challenging. Only when revenue professionals feel a strong connection to the success of their hotel or organization can they realize their full potential.

Over the past 40 years, hotel revenue optimization and the skillsets of the individuals practicing it have continued to evolve. Today’s hotel operators must seek revenue professionals who demonstrate critical thinking and embrace change while exhibiting curiosity and determination to challenge the status quo. Additional attributes to watch for—and nourish—in revenue leaders include a natural propensity to realize the power of incrementality, the ability to communicate effectively and the desire to collaborate holistically to achieve growth.

Many of these attributes aren’t always part of a “standard” revenue professional’s skillset. True revenue leaders must expand their focus beyond analytics and become compelling storytellers to help other leaders within their organization adapt to the trends they see.

When operators identify these traits early in a revenue professional’s development, they should provide leadership opportunities and developmental training for continued growth. Consider offering them exposure across departments, speaking engagements and critical project ownership. Analytical thinkers enjoy working toward short- and long-term goals, an attribute operators should strive to foster by mapping out a clear and targeted career development plan. Given the wide-ranging impact of revenue optimization on hotels, there’s clear value in ensuring these professionals have a well-rounded skillset and understanding of perspectives within an organization.

Set Your Sights

Setting goals is a crucial aspect of revenue optimization, but hotel companies often need help setting clear goals for positions throughout their organizational structure. Besides setting position-centric goals, ensuring that those align with the objectives of the organizations and with the goals of other commercial group members is vital, particularly between their sales and revenue optimization teams.

For example, the sales department may be more concerned with increasing a hotel’s occupancy levels or growing total revenue rather than improving the quality of its revenue sources. At the same time, revenue optimization focuses on growing revenue per available room or, better yet, overall profitability. When both departments are aligned on increasing the quality and quantity of business through clear expectations or measurable goals, it is much easier to form effective strategies based on shared incentives.

A meaningful incentive structure is essential for cluster revenue professionals to determine rewards. Whereas standalone properties should have defined tangible key performance indicators, clusters of properties may be evaluated in aggregate. In any case, a fair and proportionate assessment of revenue professionals’ achievements based on their realm of influence is warranted.

Additionally, a spot bonus system designed to reward individuals who tangibly contribute to significant incremental revenue or profit growth outside their respective incentive plans or departments can have a significant impact. It allows hotels to promote an entrepreneurial mindset throughout the organization while improving their financial performance. This is how hotel leaders continue establishing cohesive commercial organizations among their ranks.

The Next Evolution

Hoteliers can help revenue professionals attain higher levels of performance and efficiency by fostering closer relationships among departmental leaders. Doing so can create a positive impact across multiple departments, such as between revenue professionals and finance. Both departments are concerned with improving each property's financial health and competitive standing under their purview, and hotels should promote the concept of profit maximization between them.

When in alignment, finance and revenue strategy teams can more effectively educate their colleagues and leaders in other departments about how their decision-making impacts profitability and how everyone plays a role in the financial success of their organization.

By following the natural evolution of the revenue optimization role, hotels can continue to disseminate the lessons learned by revenue professionals to other departments. As revenue optimization responsibilities continue evolving, we will see technology and AI absorbing most tactical tasks through automation, allowing revenue professionals to fully transition to strategic roles focused on profit optimization. Consequently, they can wield greater influence to elevate profitability across all departments.

In summary, hotel leaders should publicly acknowledge the contribution of revenue professionals to their organization’s financial success. Revenue leaders must be given clear, measurable KPIs that align with the company’s stated and broader commercial team’s objectives. Ongoing development and career pathing to hone revenue professionals’ skills will allow these individuals to perform at the top of their game. Most importantly, revenue professionals must take responsibility for how they are perceived by their colleagues within the organization.

With the right support structure in place, revenue professionals can continue to assert themselves as essential members of the hotel hierarchy through effective communication and collaboration. Mutual trust, respect and credibility through these means are the basis of the revenue professionals' continued success.

Christian Boerger is principal industry consultant at IDeaS.