The Evolution of Revenue Managers in Asia

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By Timothy Tan, Duetto Research

Patrick Bosworth recently wrote about the evolution of revenue management in Asia for WIT and it got me thinking about how revenue managers have changed through the years, too. I remember starting out as a reservations manager almost 20 years ago when the discipline of revenue management was just taking shape in Asia.

Back then, most revenue managers were like me. They started out behind the front desk or in a reservations role and worked their way up to this new position. As the role has become more prominent through the years, revenue managers have far different backgrounds today.

Many are like me, who started in other positions and worked their way up to a revenue management role. They may have gained their revenue management know-how by talking their way into conferences and finding inexpensive ways to further their revenue management education. They are typically very good with the computer and working with Excel worksheets.

In their growing years, they probably went through hard knocks, surviving as whipping boys when hotels failed to perform. They were never asked to provide any strategic input into the business but to produce reports to either justify the poor results or promote visibly when the hotel saw better performances. They’ve probably worked for managers who knew they needed to install revenue management practices but weren’t entirely sure how.

The most successful of these revenue managers is the rare breed who has carved out a niche through years of experience. They continue to educate themselves to this day. Their smarts and gumption have made them indispensable to their organisations. They’ve proven their reports — and input and presence — are invaluable.

And over the past decade, as the discipline has grown exponentially in Asia and is now taught in notable hospitality schools around the world, a new breed of revenue manager has emerged. These hospitality school graduates are brought through the paces in special revenue management programmes, groomed by experienced mentors, and appropriately placed so that their revenue management skills grow in tandem with the responsibilities. They are most likely graduates of notable U.S. or Swiss hospitality institutions, although we are also seeing talents emerge from hotel schools in Asia.

The work environments they find themselves in now are usually well structured and surrounded mostly by senior management, all well equipped to understand the vital role of revenue management in their organisations, which are typically the industry’s bigger brand names.

Even more recently, a new kind of revenue manager has arrived. They are probably not much older than Expedia (which was founded in 1996). Not only are they living in the age of disruption, they are well versed in statistics and analytics and can program in R, all while making a double espresso. They may not love the guests as much as old school hoteliers, but they love the opportunities to exploit data to extract maximum profitability.

Like the discipline itself, the revenue manager in Asia has evolved over the years. With mobile bookings, the growth of OTAs and new intermediaries like Google and Alibaba entering the picture, a wide array of revenue management skills and experiences are vital. This position is more important than ever and companies need to get it right.

There’s no perfect résumé or exact skill set that will identify a great revenue manager. They can and do come from all walks of life. To me, the most important factors are always pushing to learn more and being able to adapt.

With the right people in place, I believe the revenue management revival will come to Asia as it has in the U.S. and Europe.

This article originally appeared on the Duetto website. Representasia is proud to be a sales partner of Duetto Research. To find out more about how Duetto’s GameChanger solution can help boost your property’s revenue, email us on hello@representasia.com

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Founded by two travel and technology professionals with years of experience in Asia, Representasia specialises in sales & marketing representation throughout Southeast Asia for travel/hospitality technology providers and travel-related startups, as well as providing marketing consultancy services for hotels and travel businesses in the region.

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