In the ‘new normal’, interdepartmental silos continue to break down
Within the hospitality industry, the pandemic has changed how we recruit and attract new talent as well as what we look for when hiring. The new job description for sales teams is changing rapidly, with agility and the ability to capitalize on short-term changes becoming key skills. When historical data is no longer appropriate or sufficient, teams must abandon what worked and seek out what will work now. This combination of innovative technologies and new challenges has created a need for learning and development that has exceeded the capabilities of many organizations.
According to a Summer 2021 Hospitality Upgrade article written by Jennifer Hill and Cindy Estis Green, organizational structures are changing so that the hotel revenue generation team is one unit, combining revenue analytics and sales, sales deployment and digital marketing spend. This necessitated a change in budgets and performance expectations. Smaller, more agile teams were needed to deal with the impacts of the pandemic. It will take time to determine if this realignment continues. Commercial departments were slowly merging in most hotel organizations; the pandemic has accelerated this.
Dr. Kelly McGuire, CEO of ZS, said in her presentation at HSMAI ROC Americas 2021 that the ability of these teams to achieve maximum market potential would require key changes.
First, it is essential to delegate, automate, reduce and eliminate non-essential work performed by these key players. Second, teams need to be rebuilt to ensure there is a mix of strategic thinkers, relationship builders, communicators and business experts. More critical thinking and less data cleaning and report writing is required if business teams are to be nimble in achieving KPIs.
A recent article by Drs. Peter Ricci and Anil Bilgihan in Hotel Business Review reported on insights from 14 revenue managers. They summed up the challenges this way: “The majority of revenue management models are based largely on historical data; however, by incorporating big data such as political environment, weather, flights, holidays, events, social reputation and online prices/inventory, vaccination rates, daily COVID-19 case counts 19 [and] destination safety in algorithms, can help revenue managers improve the accuracy of their forecasts. Through the effective use of real-time big data, room rates or packages can be tailored to each guest, which in turn will maximize revenue and improve guest satisfaction.
The challenges of technology, remote work, and smaller teams tackling business activity together have also blurred goals. Key performance indicators and appropriate measures of success are changing rapidly, forcing managers to find new ways to monitor and develop their teams.
Bonnie Buckhiester, president of Buckhiester Management, has authored several articles on the leadership roles that revenue managers, together with their marketing and sales counterparts, have had to learn to play, starting with “Only Fish where the fish are. As the pandemic took hold, the convergence of revenue strategy and digital marketing progressed rapidly. Website data from marketing informed pricing decisions as booking windows got shorter. Sophisticated business intelligence tools had to be acquired and learned if these teams were to access real-time data on food markets, travel habits, traveler sentiment, and other non-traditional data sources. Buckhiester argues that the pandemic has accelerated the shift to “fourth-generation revenue strategy directors” who, with their numbers and analytics, are looking for clues to understand and better characterize demand. They are leaders who have learned new skills that allow them to challenge tradition and discover new perspectives to find demand.
Strategic thinking is more essential than ever in business matters. People need to follow trends and markets more closely and with new insights. Technology and year-over-year comparisons are no longer a substitute for a lack of planning and the need to understand new market dynamics and forces.
Additionally, organizational structures are changing such that the hotel’s revenue generation team is a unit responsible for revenue and business analysis, sales rollout, digital marketing spend, and technology rollout. . Budgets and performance measures must change as these structures and functions evolve. Determining the right incentives and metrics was a huge sales topic, especially as the pandemic saw more than two years of hard-earned sales fall off the books. Responsibility and accountability for action and execution are essential determinants of the success of these new teams.
This is an excerpt from the HSMAI Foundation report State of Hotel Sales, Marketing and Revenue Optimization Talent: 2020-2021 special report. To learn more about the HSMAI Foundation and its mission, visit the Foundation website.