Question for Our Revenue Management Expert Panel:

What top skills and characteristics should hotels look for when recruiting in Revenue Management leadership?

Industry Expert Panel

Our Industry Expert Panel exists out of professionals within the hospitality & travel Industry. They have comprehensive and detailed knowledge, experience in practice or management and are forward-thinking. They are answering questions about the state of the industry. They share their insights on topics like revenue management, marketing, operations, technology and discuss the latest trends.

Paulo Aragao
Paulo AragaoRevenue Management Professional

“Hotels should look for leaders that show the best balance between hard and soft skills. Technical skills are important, i.e., the more diverse systems the candidate has worked with, the better. I find it is also very valuable for hotels to look for candidates that are naturally curious about systems. Those frequently learn the ins and outs of a system quickly, and with the least instruction, so, arguably a super-powered capability. It’s not just about the tool, but the holistic and confident knowledge of the tool made possible by a genuine willingness to learn the “why” behind it.

Nevertheless, the bigger challenge lies in soft skills. It is just as important (and hopefully more owners and General Managers are recognizing this) that your Revenue Management leader has sales, communication, and creativity skills. Sales and communication skills have been vastly discussed and explained by experts as top skills needed in business leaders, and with revenue management, it is the same. Creativity, on the other hand, is a key skill. Yes, there is space for creativity in RM. Hotels should hire leaders that can demonstrate they have regularly brought ideas and solutions (even if not at all implemented) to the table.

It is important for RM professionals to often step away from the numbers to foster a growth mindset, enabling ways for creativity in strategy. Hotels also need to create an environment for revenue managers where they can express their ideas even if they are unconventional or not at all related to their areas. Mistakes cannot be a reason for punishment in that environment; there needs to be acceptance of different disciplines, strategies, and ideas used. Finally, leaders should match the chosen ideas with the original proposition to hopefully generate solutions, which is not always the end goal in this case.”

Chaya Kowal
Chaya KowalDirector of Revenue Management, Potato Head Family

“Basic Skills:

  • Technical skills: This is the most basic requirement and the candidate should have a good understanding of how the systems and tools work (e.g., PMS, Booking Engine, etc.) as well as partner extranets, distribution channels, channel management, Revenue Management software and any other tools for analytics and reporting.
  • It is also important to understand how packages work. Different hotels have different setups; i.e., the creation of rate codes, promos codes and package codes) but it’s important to understand all the components that go towards creating packages and offers.
  • Analytical skills are a must in revenue management; not only analysing and understanding your past data/ future trends but also taking the right decisions in terms of selling, yielding and amending offerings.

Personality / Character:

  • I would say that it goes beyond just being good at numbers & analytics. In Revenue Management, you are a “connector” – you work closely with sales, marketing, reservations and other departments! Therefore, it is crucial to have someone who understands the dynamics of different departments (also from a Total Revenue Vs. only Room Revenue optimization perspective).
  • It’s also important to have someone who understands that operations (packages you create in Revenue / Reservations) are directly linked to other departments, e.g., F&B, Wellness, other activities, transportation, external activities, etc.
  • The person should also understand economic and political insights that help with forecasting and especially budgeting, e.g., elections, currency fluctuations, inflation rates etc. A person who is on top of what is happening in the destination (trends, customer behaviour, competition, events etc.) and has a competitive mindset is important. Being a proactive team player is also a must!
  • Resilient & Tenacious – Someone who does not give up easily; someone who finds solutions when faced with obstacles. There are many challenging moments, e.g., a decline in Revenue has to be answered by Revenue Leadership.
  • Competitive nature – someone who enjoys competition and is always ready to try new things, explore new options and take risks; someone who can motivating teams (e.g., sales, reservations) to be competitive as well as exceed targets.
  • Good communication skills and the ability to negotiate/persuade: It is important to be able to present and support your actions and forecast to GMs, Corporate Offices and Owners where applicable. Communicating with sales/ marketing, reservations teams and the operations team is also crucial. Someone who can say “No” to sales and GMs when needed is also important.
  • Relationship Management: Someone who can maintain a good relationship & communication with both internal and external stakeholders.

To recap, you would look for someone who has all the technical and analytical skills required for Revenue Management but I believe it is also important to have someone who maintains relationships with both internal and external stakeholders and who is on top of what is happening around them.”

Patrick Wimble
Patrick WimbleManaging Director, Lightbulb Consulting

“Historically, revenue managers have been their own worst enemies when it comes to selling themselves and the value they provide. By creating the aura that they are the smartest person in the room, it allows others to marginalise them. To counteract this, I would suggest top revenue leadership needs the following skills:

  • The ability to embrace change. If nothing else, this pandemic has taught us that change is inevitable. A revenue leader who demonstrates that they are constantly looking for opportunities to refine the way they’re doing things across the hotel will stand out from the crowd.
  • Using data to inspire others AND drive customer-centric decisions. Revenue “geeks” love playing with data. Revenue “geeks who speak” look to use data to convince others that their decisions and strategies follow the right approach. But a revenue leader who can do this and demonstrates that their strategy has the customer at the centre of it will be most successful. This could be as simple as truly understanding a customer’s nervousness about returning to travel and designing rate products with the most appropriate fences, to being at the centre of a segment strategy to encourage new markets to use the hotel.
  • Daring to try something different. A revenue leader who can demonstrate a broad understanding of all the commercial levers, not just revenue management, and the bravery to put the planning to place and see it through, even if it fails, demonstrates a creativity that will be sorely needed in the future.”

Theresa Prins
Theresa PrinsFounder, Revenue Resolutions

“Revenue Management is an analytical role within the company, yet so many times it is mistaken as a ‘step up’ from Reservations. Knowledge of Reservations is needed, but the role of reservations is more sales orientated. The most common traits a Revenue Manager should have are to be analytical, systems savvy and both data and results-driven. But 4 skills that make a revenue manager excellent are:

  • Business Minded. A strong revenue manager needs to be able to make decisions for the business as if it is their own business. Decisions cannot be a blanket, everything-fits-all approach. Profitability should always be considered in every scenario. Consider the different decisions being made, just between pre-COVID where we had to drive profit Vs in COVID where we must drive cash flow.
  • Strategist. A great revenue manager needs to think strategically and be able to plan – whether it’s in a scenario of system implementations, pricing in distressed demand (and the impact on your long-term revenue), or in a situation where you need to implement to optimise revenue but that must unfold over a period.
  • Good Communicator. In many cases revenue managers are not very social, but nonetheless, they must be good communicators. Someone that can articulate a strategy both at the executive level, as well as with the employees. The revenue manager does not only have to engage stakeholders with their vision, but they also need to cultivate a revenue culture in the organisation.
  • Problem Solver. Revenue Managers needs to solve problems. In many scenarios, revenue management is caught between the clients’ needs and/or sales and what the data shows. Revenue Managers must be able to solve the problem by thinking outside the box / the norm, to find a win/win solution. This is particularly important in a time where we all need to be guest-centric in our approach to gain demand.”

Heiko Rieder
Heiko RiederVice President Revenue Management and Reservations, Penta Hotels

“Aside from the expected analytical hard skills, a Revenue Manager also requires a good technical understanding to comprehend the capabilities of reservations, revenue management, BI software & applications and how to make the data travel amongst those. This will help them to work more efficiently and spend less time on administration.

Often, we see the importance of interpersonal skills is underestimated for Revenue Managers in leadership roles. Not only do these skills help the candidate in upward communication but also in dialogues with partners, peers and team members. As Head of Department or in corporate roles with team leaders, the candidate needs to be well organized and be able to prioritize. A strategic mindset is needed to steer the commercial direction based on the analytical facts.”

Pablo Torres
Pablo TorresHotel Consultant, TSA Solutions

“The Revenue Manager leader must understand who the guests are and how they behave (Front Office & Reservations experience ), how they are attracted (Sales & Marketing experience), and the reasoning behind the pricing (Yield/Revenue experience). With this acquired knowledge, together with a useful tech stack, the Revenue Manager can lead a positive strategy.

However, in many cases, Revenue Managers have followed a career in Reservations and then Revenue, without real direct contact with guests face-to-face, or any Sales experience. To be able to walk the talk, it’s necessary to have experienced first-hand the challenges that both guests and the market present.”

Edyta Walczak
Edyta WalczakCluster Revenue Manager, Arora Hotels

“Revenue Managers tend to have a more diverse skill set than their name would suggest. The skillset starts with strong analytical abilities that are key to analyzing data to make an informed decision. Besides being analytical, being able to drive commercial awareness across all departments of the hotel is also important.

Revenue Managers must be communicative, develop strong internal and external relationships and be influential, as they lead all the relevant stakeholders to follow the strategy. They must be able to convince management to act based on data. Revenue Managers should be technically savvy, showing strong technical skills with a good understanding of systems configuration, functions and opportunities which often come with adequate utilization of the PMS. For example, each property has a PMS which holds valuable data on guest preferences – if used correctly, this information can present a great upselling opportunity and therefore contribute towards the ADR.”

Thibault Catala
Thibault CatalaFounder, Catala Consulting

“I believe there are 10 very important traits of a strong revenue manager:

  1. A team player. Collaborative and works effectively as a member of teams.
  2. Have strong verbal and visual communication. The ability to articulate revenue strategies and deployment to achieve strategies is key.
  3. Technical knowledge and technically savvy. They need to understand, to a detailed degree, how technology can increase the revenue optimization function. Remain open to new technology systems and learn how they operate.
  4. Be competitive. Determined and committed with a strong drive to achieve the goals.
  5. Be priority and laser-focused. They need to be able to identify and prioritize a focus on the highest revenue or profit-generating needs compared to time-consuming tasks with low-yield impact.
  6. Remain agile. Adapt quickly and efficiently according to business changes and needs; thrive in a constantly evolving environment. Creative and doesn’t hesitate to experiment.
  7. Have strong leadership skills. Earn trust and directly / indirectly lead teams at all levels throughout the organization.
  8. Have strong influencing skills. They need to influence decisions at all levels of the organization and be able to convince others to act based on data and information.
  9. Be a critical observer. A good listener with strong observational skills, able to read situations, identify changes needed, understand environments, and respond accordingly.
  10. Have strong interpersonal skills. The ability to develop and maintain relationships with colleagues and third-party partners.”

Karin van Rhee
Karin van RheeLecturer, Hotel Management School Maastricht

“The role of a Revenue Manager is changing a lot. Technology has taken away the focus from revenue tactics like pricing, forecasting and inventory management, as algorithms and AI now outsmart humans on these elements. Therefore the role of a Revenue Manager becomes more strategic, multi-departmental and with a strong focus on distribution.

Considering all the data that’s available to help revenue managers make