The $27,000-a-Year Hotel Revenue Manager

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God bless, the revenue manager. He or she may be the most valuable player in any hotel organization. At any given moment, they've got multiple balls in the air and have multiple masters to please. Their job, of course, is to maximize the revenue stream of a particular hotel or set of properties using all of the distribution channels at their disposal. But that's the problem: Every hotel has a plethora of distribution channels to employ, ranging from brand.com and its own website to transparent and opaque OTAs to the GDS to social media channels and more.

What's more, the revenue manager must take cues from a range of stakeholders, which can include the owner, GM, director of sales & marketing, even brand and/or management company headquarters. Juggling these options and the sometimes-conflicting priorities of management make for a big headache.

And yet, while revenue managers are certainly the linchpins for the success of most hotels, they're often overworked, under-experienced, under-paid and under-appreciated. As someone said to me recently, “Does it really make sense to entrust the fate of a multi-million-dollar investment like a hotel in the hands of a $27,000-a-year revenue manager who's probably a year or two out of hotel school?” Probably not, but that's the case in many hotels. It's no wonder a lot of these people fail or burn out within a couple of years.

Instead, the industry—starting with hotel schools and continuing through the brands and management companies and down to the property level—should elevate the status, compensation, requirements and expectations of the revenue management function. The revenue manager should be part of any hotel's executive committee, perhaps above the director of sales & marketing in influence in the hotel's decision-making. They certainly should have a seat at the table when short-, medium- and long-term financial and performance goals are set.

In years past, the traditional route to become a GM went through food and beverage or the rooms department. The GM of the future may still use those routes but also must have solid grounding in both the strategies and tactics of successful revenue management. Once that's the norm, GMs will give their revenue managers the respect, authority and compensation they deserve.

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