Hotel Profit Discovery

What Total Revenue Management is Not

At a recent hotel conference I had the opportunity to speak to Revenue Managers from the entire spectrum.  Some had a lot of experience and some where newbies.  Some came from corporate and some from independent properties.  Yet, all of them seemed to have a different opinion of what Total Revenue Management is.  That’s not surprising given that, as one conference panelist put it, “we’ve been hearing about Total Revenue Management for 10 years and still no one is doing it.”

There is a common misconception that Total Revenue Management is the application of revenue management concepts to revenue streams other than rooms, such as F&B, Spa, Golf, etc that make up the total hotel revenue. Based on this definition you could conceivably have the Revenue Manager set prices and discount tiers for each outlet or service.  Better yet, in larger hotel companies you could have a separate RM for each line of business.  Imagine a Rooms Revenue Manager and an F&B Revenue Manager, like you now have a Rooms Controller and and F&B Controller at many properties.  Each manager would look for opportunities to manipulate pricing in order to find the most profitable balance between demand and capacity utilization (i.e. occupancy).  Each line of business could also have their own Revenue Management System and they could have competitor’s price shopping tools or even their own “STAR” report. Furthermore, instead of having a Rooms Comp Set, you could also have a Restaurant and Spa comp set.  Imagine comparing Revenue Per Available Seat to benchmark your hotel’s main restaurant versus your competition.  Sounds brilliant, except for one thing – that is not Total Revenue Management.

True Total Revenue Management is about unleashing the power of RM on all revenue streams, but it is also about designing pricing strategies that optimize the total performance of the hotel even if that means that some of the revenue streams are not optimized. Let’s take the easiest example to explain – the casino guest. Smart casinos don’t care about any one individual revenue stream. They care about each guests total spend, and thus they regularly comp room nights to hotel guests that spend on gaming and outlets.  These casinos sacrifice rooms profit for total profit.  This is Total Revenue Management, when the interconnected relationships across revenue streams is considered simultaneously in order to create a bundle of prices that optimizes the hotel’s total bottom line.  In other words, Total Revenue Management is not about looking at each line of business individually, but as a collective package of experiences to forecast and optimally price.

This vision of Total Revenue Management  is a lot more challenging to achieve than the first, which is part of the reason why we have not seen it widely deployed yet.  For one thing, most revenue center managers are conditioned to think about the performance of their “silo” rather than think about the entire hotel performance.  You can’t blame them, hotel performance bonuses are based  on the individual performance of each department.  Imagine asking the Spa Director at your property to accept a 10% price decrease on all services because the numbers prove that it would increase total guest profit.  I have been part of those conversations and they are not pretty.  Another challenge, is the math.  Analyzing supply and demand for rooms is considerably less complex than analyzing multiple revenue streams simultaneously. Modelling Total Revenue Management  requires advanced data mining algorithms with a layer of optimization mathematics on top.

Yet the biggest challenge to implementing Total Revenue Management is the shift that hotel managers have to make from Per Available Room measure to Per Available Customer measures.  Only by moving to a customer-centered set of measures, where the overall guest spend is more important than the spend in any single outlet can you begin to embark of the path to Total Revenue Management.  Read more about how to achieve this transformation here.  Therefore, even though we have been discussing it for a decade, it looks like true Total Revenue Management is still only a topic of conversation for corporate level strategists at very large hotel companies.  That means it will take many more years, if not decades, for the concept to trickle down to the property level.  This reality leaves open a tremendous opportunity for forward-looking independents to leap-frog their larger rivals by shifting to a Total Revenue Management mindset.


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Robert Hernandez, Statistical Analysis and Data Mining for Revenue Growth Robert is an expert in the field of mathematical Hotel Optimization and Analytics. He has spent the last 17 years building data-driven forecasting and optimization models for companies in over 20 different industries, from tech to tourism. Robert possesses a very unique skill set including cross-disciplinary experience, advanced mathematical and analytics skills, data transformation, industry-specific knowledge and business-process improvement expertise. Robert began his career at the Walt Disney Company in Revenue Planning. Read More+


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