The importance of attracting and retaining high quality talent is fundamental to the successful operation of any hotel. The effect of losing a senior member of a property’s revenue management team can have a prolonged and significant negative impact on the financial performance of a hotel. Maintaining stability in the revenue management division should be an industry-wide concern, especially given that a 2015 Deloitte Hospitality Report indicated that hospitality turnover rates are “nearly twice the average rate for all other sectors.”
While leading hoteliers certainly understand the need to source and grow the best available talent for their organisation, many properties find the process of attracting and retaining staff difficult – to the detriment of their business. This is particularly an issue for highly-skilled, specialised operational staff members such as revenue managers who play a vital role in the overall performance of a hotel, its occupancy and its revenue outcomes.
The ability to find and retain revenue managers is a rising issue for regional hoteliers as recent growth in hotel developments has created a very real revenue management talent shortage. STR Global’s April 2016 report indicates there are 2,528 regional projects currently under contract today alone and The Ascott Group Limited’s Melinda Yeoh recently commented that “the key challenge faced in APAC stems from a shortfall in the supply of revenue management talent. An issue exacerbated by the fact that the hotel industry here has grown at an unprecedented rate in the recent years.”
With increased competition for finding and hiring experienced revenue mangers, many property owners and senior managers may be asking themselves what they can do to stand out from the crowd. How can they best secure revenue management talent available today?
What a Revenue Manager is looking for in an employer
Hoteliers looking to employ an experienced revenue manager during a time of a regional talent shortage should be aware of what makes their workplace attractive to potential employees. It’s an employee’s market right now and talented revenue leaders are highly selective when considering a potential role change.
As a base requirement, revenue managers want to ensure that their future workplace has automated technology platforms such as RMS, CRM and CRS systems. A further incentive for prospective revenue managers are hotels with data analysts that will enable them to function in their role successfully and spend more time on business strategy rather than data entry. Revenue managers also commonly seek out workplaces that encourage innovation and the undertaking of creative and sophisticated strategy execution, with full support from the hotel’s executive leadership team. They look for environments in which revenue management is culturally embraced and extends beyond the rooms department.
In addition to an attractive base salary, revenue managers may also seek out a performance-based incentive plan that is aligned with revenue goals and driving optimal overall revenue – not just making a RevPAR index number. Increasingly, flexible working conditions – including the option to occasionally work from home – are largely appealing to revenue managers.
Love the one you’re with
The process of hiring a new senior manager is generally neither a short, nor easy, process. Therefore, for many established hotels, the easiest way to avoid recruitment challenges in a time of a talent shortage is through the nurturing and retaining of its own staff. For a hotel to retain high performing revenue management personnel, it is critical that strategies are in place to provide staff with ongoing guidance and support to help meet their own personal and team sales goals, as well as the opportunity to review and influence the selection of tools that enable them to do so.
A report in the Harvard Business Review recently highlighted how Starwood Hotels and Resorts approaches the complex issue of ensuring their organisation’s most talented staff members are being constantly engaged. Starwood seeks out talented staff members and gives them projects and access to top management in order to “test people with live ammunition.” This means that the parent company of hotel chains such as Westin, W and the Sheraton lets innovators build and manage cross-functional teams to develop their projects and present full-fledged sales and marketing plans to the company’s top executives.
Technologies that support hotels in times of turnover
For hotels finding themselves struggling to secure an experienced revenue manager, there are advanced technology solutions available, such as virtual revenue management services or “revenue management for hire,” that can offer support in the long or short term. Virtual revenue management services often use a desktop sharing program to access hotel and market data through a variety of advanced tools, process and technology that is often otherwise unavailable to the hotel. This approach can provide more control and understanding of key revenue levers to senior managers and owners as they make decisions on what strategies are implemented; and more generally, the service delivers the essential pricing decision support to hotels operating without an experienced in-house resource.
Advanced revenue management systems today also facilitate the on-boarding of staff into revenue management roles. Automated hospitality technologies have evolved well past the point of providing handouts with screenshots and procedural steps – or the dreaded, outdated and cumbersome printed manual. These new technologies are able to push information to workers at the moment they need to perform an unfamiliar task. Sophisticated learning platforms incorporate gamification, serve employees with real situations to work through and give the ability to practice problem solving via the system. This modern and integrated approach to learning technologies is founded on forward-thinking, educational-based philosophies, which ensure that employees are efficiently trained and familiarised with a hotel’s operational systems with minimal down time and impact on the business.
Attract and retain the best for your business
With APAC’s high turn-over rate and a market demand for increasing numbers of talented staff, it is critical that hoteliers focus not only on attracting, but also retaining experienced revenue managers through an appealing workplace with a positive culture. After all, the ongoing financial viability of a hotel can often be decided by how pricing decisions are implemented and embraced by key staff members. In a fiercely competitive operating environment, hoteliers functioning without experienced in-house revenue manager do so at their own risk.
About the author
Rachel Grier is the Managing Director, Asia Pacific for IDeaS – A SAS COMPANY, responsible for growing IDeaS Asia business and enhancing the company’s leading brand reputation in the dynamic Asian hospitality sector.
Rachel possesses a unique combination of successful leadership experiences in enterprise software and hospitality sales and marketing. With more than two decades of experience, she has a record of growing businesses in the regional hospitality and travel sectors across a range of established and emerging markets in Asia, Pacific and the Middle East.
She developed her travel industry sales and marketing skills across a range of travel technology and hospitality industry brands. Most recently she was senior vice president sales, Asia Pacific and the Middle East for hotel central reservations leader Pegasus Solutions.
Rachel previously worked as the area director of sales and marketing for the InterContinental Hotel Group in Japan where she oversaw a major restructure and was responsible for the sales, marketing and revenue results and has held senior leadership roles within organisations such as Per Aquum Resorts, Spas, and Residences, Rendezvous Hotels International and FCm Travel Solutions ( Flight Centre).