Meeting Internal Challenges For Revenue Management
By Helena Rowe, Account Manager at Net Affinity
It's challenging being a Revenue Manager! Whether you're in a large city-centre hotel, or a small countryside hotel, Revenue Managers face similar challenges & stresses. Too much to do, too little time, being number one! Many of these challenges come from client demands, but in this piece, we're discussing the internal challenges faced by Revenue Manager, or the member of staff with responsibility for Revenue Management. These are generally a little easier to fix than external factors and can have a big impact on a Revenue Managers efficacy and efficiency.
Firstly, we need to look from the top down, as this is where most of the work culture in business organisations come from – General Managers, we're looking at you! It's imperative that the Revenue Manager has the support of the GM in the hotel for them to do their job effectively and efficiently. The GM needs to instill the culture throughout the entire hotel that everybody has a role to play and responsibility for room sales in supporting the RM.
Communication between Departments
It's important that all HODs, as well as their teams, understand the Revenue Strategy and what the GM & RM are looking to achieve this month and this year. Especially important is the communication between the sales team and RM as they should be working together for the same goals, but equally for the Front Desk & Reservations team to know why rates have increased or dropped, why an incentive is being offered to encourage guests to book on your own site or over the phone and to encourage OTA guests to book direct next time.
Ensure that the most current forecast is shared with all departments – this has a symbiotic function – to help all teams drive sales, but also help other departments with forecasting their sales and staffing.
Food & Beverage allocations can be a thorn in a RMs side, so open dialogue as to why these need to be decreased or increased needs to take place – especially if the hotel is looking to offer an incentive such as Free Breakfast if the guest books direct.
Another specific example of communication issues are over-bookings – Night Managers are often terrified of this word! Again, communication is the key, the RM should collate stats on No-show rates, prove what is achievable through overbooking and work with the Front Desk team to have a plan in place for the team if things go wrong and they need to book out a guest.
Team members need to be aware of how their interactions with guests have an impact on room sales. Reviews are often discussed when we speak with clients, especially in highly competitive markets. It's a lot easier for a Revenue Manager to increase rates for a hotel with a 4.5-star rating on TripAdvisor than it is a 3.5-star rating. All departments in the hotel play a role in this, as you know from reading TripAdvisor reviews, they can be about any element of the guest's stay – cleanliness of the corridors, to the quality of the food, to the temperature of the jacuzzi in the Leisure Centre.
This is not just on TripAdvisor however, it impacts reviews left on OTAs, on your own site and just as importantly, word of mouth. All online reviews should be audited daily and management as a whole take responsibility for improving and maintaining high scores. Issues within departments can then be highlighted to the HOD, to ensure that they are resolved and avoided in future.
Training and Upskilling
Revenue Management is a relatively new field in Irish Hospitality – there is still a talent gap that needs to be addressed. The RM needs to be allowed both the time & resources to attend conferences, keep up to date with industry newsletters & advice.
In addition to this, the rest of the hotel team need to understand the role of the revenue manager. The Revenue Team could hold regular RM workshops with other Heads of Departments & Front Desk staff to ensure that they are trained in the basics of Revenue Management and understand what they can do to assist the RM and bring these techniques into their own roles. This should be done on a 6-monthly or annual basis to allow for staff turnover and refresh the skills of staff.
Too often, when speaking with hotels, we are told that the RM is the only person who knows how to use the booking engine or channel manager meaning that when they are not at work, no dates can be closed out, rates can't be optimised and opportunities are missed out on. It's important to ensure that at all times at the hotel, there is someone trained on the systems employed by the hotel and empowered to make decisions on these matters. This will also allow the RM to be able to go offsite for conferences & workshops or run them internally without having to worry about the daily running of the hotel.
Technology / Equipment
If a chef needed an extra mixer in the kitchen to ensure there was enough bread for the day, we suspect the GM would see little issue with making the investment into this equipment. However, it can be a different story for the RM, who may not have the correct tools in place to do their job effectively, and just as importantly, efficiently. The role of an RM is made a lot simpler with the most up-to-date and correct type of software – an up-to-date Property Management System with a solid reporting system, an easy to manage Channel Manager and most importantly, in our eyes, a responsive website with a great user experience with a strong Booking Engine. If the Revenue Manager must spend hours pulling reports before getting to the analysis or update rates on several channels individually, it will mean that they won't have time to delve into other revenue opportunities or even do it at all.
As well as ensuring they have the correct software, don't forget about the hardware – a good PC that isn't slow and invest in a second monitor for your PC – it makes the job a lot easier!
Workload & a Quiet Office
Especially with small properties, it may be difficult to find the time for a RM to focus on the role specifically or have the physical space to give a Revenue Manager their own office. While it is important that they have good communication with the Front Office & Reservations team and understand and supervise their work, it's impossible to concentrate on a good analysis or work on forecasting when you need to regularly drop what you are doing to answer the phone or emails or are sitting at the front desk. The RM needs to have the time to dedicate to Revenue Management as well as somewhere for them to retreat to for these tasks without having to worry about the phones or check-ins, even if it's just a morning scheduled once or twice a week in the GMs office with no interruptions.
Once these challenges can be addresses in the hotel, it can make a huge difference in top line sales achieved and also allow the RM to concentrate on channel strategies, impacting the bottom line stats – the profit made per room sale.
Helena is an Account Manager at Net Affinity. A graduate of Shannon College of Hotel Management, Helena has international experience in Reservations and Revenue. Helena has worked in multiple hotel chains as well as independent brands across a variety of hotel types. She has a keen interest in Revenue Management and Data Analysis.More from Helena Rowe
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