Hotel Revenue Management – Where are all the top talent?


Hotel Revenue Management – where are all the top talent?

The demand for skilled revenue management talent is on the rise, however, positions are hard to fill in the hospitality industry. While this is a good problem for talented professionals looking for work, the big question is, “what happened to so much of the talent in our industry?” Guest writer and industry expert Melissa Kalan shares her thoughts.

In 2014, I wrote about both ends of the spectrum when it came to the revenue management (RM) talent conundrum. On the one hand, at the time, we were beginning to see a dynamic cultural shift from a division of rooms and primarily the reservations function to a recognized and critical business discipline in its own right. At the same time, many properties still lacked a dedicated, trained professional who could analyze and optimize the perishable assets they managed.

Revenue management is an integral business function that applies to all businesses (large or small) that sell a perishable good. This may include accommodation rooms, conference space, catering space, parking, airplane seats, theater seats, stadium seats, golf parties, and cruise ship cabins. Historically, there have been suboptimal internal reporting structures, a lack of understanding of the value the skill set can bring, limited career paths, low investment in training, and compensation issues. Without the appropriate underlying support mechanisms and operating framework for these roles, the talent pool begins to shrink, burnout occurs, and opportunities elsewhere become more attractive.

Fast forward to today, opportunities elsewhere have increased in recent years while others industries become more advanced or have caught up with the integration of an RM culture in their organizations. Many such organizations have sought out existing talent outside of their traditional hiring streams.

Further away, companies such as OTAs have obtained qualified hosting revenue management talents over the years, and opportunities have also multiplied in the holiday park sector, consulting firms, industry technology companies, airlines, transport and storage. More recently, opportunities have also multiplied in asset management companies.

Advancement in technology has also led to the increased availability of remote work opportunities and the ability to work from home. This has been further reinforced during the pandemic.

Discussions in some industry circles also point to the growing trend over the years of consolidating revenue management roles as a possible factor contributing to a tighter talent pool.

Cluster roles, if properly structured, can improve operational efficiency. They can also present challenges for individual ownership who feel they may not be getting their fair share of attention, time and focus. Additionally, cluster roles tend to no longer focus on off-property RM, resulting in on-site staff becoming less exposed to discipline, and who might have developed an interest in this area if RM was more visible to them.

Traditionally, pathways to management positions have been through management positions in the catering and rooms division (front office), often bypassing RM talent altogether. There has been a shift over the years with more RM talent taking on general manager roles, which has been fantastic to watch, and the emergence of broader business roles, group directors and chief income. However, these roles are still very remote and rare across the industry.

Emphasizing RM is not an ideal internal structure in most cases, nor is providing a senior job title such as “RM Director” without embracing the role as part of the leadership team superior, commensurate with other senior leaders. This simply fails to recognize the value that a well-trained RM staff member brings to a property’s financial performance.

Such a state of mind limits the benefits that this discipline can offer both in terms of the quality of candidates and the financial performance of the operator, where the optimization of revenues and profits subsequently suffers. Experienced RM professionals build and hone their skills over time and understand the value they bring to the business.

The impact of the pandemic has further diluted the RM talent pool, with many roles sadly canceled out of necessity, many of which may have been formed and developed as part of the next generation talent pool. This forced exit from the industry has seen some RM talent employed in other industries where their transferable skills have been used in other roles, and who are no longer ready or able to return as our industry emerges from the pandemic.

Continued job security is also a concern, as we don’t yet have certainty on the consistency of the request, and it will likely take some time.

The industry faces many challenges and many things to focus on. Staffing is a critical issue facing many industries, not just RM talent within the hospitality industry, however, losing more and more skilled revenue management talent is not ideal for an industry trying to recover from the pandemic.

If you are struggling to recruit, some tentative suggestions might be to consider offering positions on a contract basis until stability returns with some certainty. Or consider hiring a remote candidate, at least in the short term, to ensure you don’t miss out on opportunities until you find a suitable candidate. Also, look at employment policies and think about what may be a disincentive against other job opportunities and their terms of employment available in the market. This should also include a review of your work from home and/or hybrid working arrangements, if possible.

Also compare the compensation offered and employee benefits with other similar roles in other organizations that may have increased opportunities for career progression and employee accommodation benefits and benefits. This may simply be due to their size and larger portfolio of properties, however, compensation may be the lever that needs to be changed to steer talent in your direction.

Finally, train your employees! The Australian Revenue Management Association has served the industry for over a decade with a focus on developing industry professionals in this essential business discipline and providing quality training pathways for employers.

This article was written by © Melissa Kalan, 2022.

Melissa Kalan

Founding Director of ARMA Melissa Kalan is the founding director of Australian Revenue Management Association (ARMA), offering online Revenue Management (RM) training and development pathways as part of their professional membership framework. ARMA also supports academic institutions with online learning support tools that support their student programs. Its life philosophy is centered on the principle of “always learning”, and with this, it enables organizations to lead a top-down RM culture that influences both profits and staff retention. ARMA programs include the Master of Revenue Management Certificate – Executive Edge, Advanced Certificate of Revenue Management – Ambitious Leader and Certificate of Revenue Management Foundations – Think, Change, Grow. Passionate about MR and still considering herself a “student of the discipline”, Melissa is building a fast-growing global community of MR-trained professionals and MR-focused organizations. Melissa also founded and hosts the annual APAC Revenue Management Summit.


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