Industry Update
Opinion Article26 May 2021

The Yoga Of Change In Hotel Revenue Optimization

By Suzanne Swafford, Associate Partner, Revenue Optimization at SSP

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We have all been watching and waiting (however impatiently) for the trends to turn upward. Even though we are still experiencing softer booking trends, finally, STR data's moving average indicates that the weeks since January 23rd moved upwards and have leveled off since spring break has ended. Airline net bookings have also continued to grow stronger over the first few months of 2021.

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What does this now mean for our industry? I would say, change and lots of it.

True, we have worked through ongoing change for a year now, but it is time we truly test our skills again. Over the past year, we have seen staff and service levels drop to new lows.

Change in the Hotel Revenue Optimization Field

Now that we are experiencing guests returning to our hotels, what is changing within the Revenue Optimization field?

  • Revenue professionals have left the industry at alarming rates.
  • Graduating college students are unprepared to step into revenue leadership roles.
  • Our ability to predict and plan for trends has again, completely changed.

As in yoga, make change work in our favor. A year of tremendous change can make a person re-evaluate every aspect of life, or in this case, strategy. Each day, we show up, roll out our mats and step into our practice. Yogis know that the practice is changing. Sometimes we crave the change, other times change is met with dread. As our practice (and careers evolve), re-evaluation, adjustments, and moving through the change is what keeps us and our revenue growth.Embracing the change in revenue optimization takes bravery, but that is how we grow. Some of the ways I achieve this in my yoga practice are:

Let Go of What Was

Trends have always changed, albeit not quite this much!

In yoga, we call this Aparigraha (non-attachment).

This time last year we were adjusting to our situation and scaling back to preserve as much profit as we could. Segments shifted astoundingly, leaving us almost paralyzed. Entire revenue teams were furloughed or laid off. We lamented, whined, and begged the universe to make it stop.

Eventually, we accepted what was. Once we stopped clinging to the past, we noticed that we were able to breathe, plan, and execute the plan. The revenue teams who accepted the reality first were the ones that captured the lion's share of the little revenue that was booked.

Now is the time to let go again.

Accept Impermanence

Embrace change as the constant.

  • Throw out historical pace reports (again).
  • Review week over week and month over month trends for relevance.
  • Watch your competitors closely (and stay one step ahead of them).
  • Understand in-depth which hotel distribution channels and which programs are booking.
  • Strategize well into the future to stay ahead of the curve!

Separate Feelings from Fact

Here are a few examples of ways to modify our thinking and choose our heads over our hearts.

Example 1:

  • Fact-Finding a good Revenue Director will not be as easy as you think.
  • Feeling – Continuing our scaled back process is fine for now.

Example 2:

  • Fact – Predicting bookings is challenging at best.
  • Feeling – Since there is no pattern anyway, we can probably save money, and delay filling the revenue position for a while longer.

Think Before you Respond

Sometimes, we feel the urge to act just so we can say we did something. We need to again breathe and plan before we step to execute.

  • A great response is to start your search now to rebuild your revenue leadership and team if you have not already. With so many revenue professionals leaving for roles in the medical and senior living industries, the good leaders will be hired the most quickly.
  • Making the mistake of saving payroll dollars at the expense of bookings will prove a costly reaction. Leisure travelers are the bread and butter of revenue for the short- and medium-term occupancy. Employing a save money strategy will deprive you in the long run by losing those coveted room nights to the competitor who opted to bring back the revenue professional earlier. A good revenue leader will find the subtle trend nuances and turn those into bottom-line profits!
  • Training in response to lack of revenue leadership availability is a great way to move forward. Working with a 3rd party revenue management task force company like Strategic Solution Partners can bring in unique training, needed skills, and resetting of strategies at this critical time.

Find the Wisdom in the Situation

On my mat, I often find that the easiest flow yesterday is the hardest today, and vice versa. Each day, I must examine what is, let go of what was, and adapt my asanas (poses) to the reality of now. As the hospitality industry moves again into the less than comfortable not-yet-known, look inside your building and your team without fear, and boldly move forward.

~Namaste

Suzanne Swafford

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