In response to our Xotels blog articles on hotel revenue management, we get asked one question very often in particular. ‘How do I start a career in revenue management?’. It is posed not only by students nearing the end of their educational program, but also by mid-level managers who have worked in the hospitality industry for a couple of years already. Becoming a hotel revenue manager is their dream job!
The challenge is of course that most hotels prefer someone with a proven track record. It would be like playing Russian roulette with your business putting a rookie in charge of your pricing and distribution strategies.
So no, there is no short cut in this field, as with any other key business development position. Yes you might be extremely bright and a fast learner, but no organization should put itself at risk for the sake of your ambition. And yes, you will have to earn your marks, and work your way up step by step.
Where to start? I would encourage anyone who really aspires to a career in revenue management to rotate through front desk and especially reservations. A profound understanding of the operational process will help you become a more fully developed revenue manager in the long run.
Besides working as an assistant or reservations manager under the guidance of an experienced and knowledgeable revenue manager is a good training school to eventually move up in the ranks. Many revenue managers tend to shift properties every 3 years. So if you are second in command so to speak, and are well trained and have been performing well, especially during the times your boss was on vacation, you stand a good chance to get promoted.
There is also the option to apply for an entry level position within the yield or revenue management department of a hotel group or large hotel. The global international hotel chains generally have a position of revenue analyst in their clusters. A junior position in such a centralized environment is also a good way to gain valuable experience.
You will be working on either availability management, in charge of allocating and restricting rate levels, or on the analytical pricing side of the business. All under the supervision of the revenue manager of course. The cluster structure usually contains several managerial layers allowing for promising talent to work their way up.
I just mentioned the word ‘talent’, yes you will need it. Competition in this field is becoming more and more fierce for candidates as hotel schools and universities have integrated courses in yield, revenue management and distribution as part of their curriculum. Each year more and more graduates hold a degree in revenue management. It is quickly getting to a point where there are more ‘certified’ revenue management applicants than jobs in this highly specialized field.
Hotel companies can select the best from a pool of qualified candidates for not just the senior and executive positions, but also for junior entry level vacancies. Most of which also did one or two related internships during their college time.
So ladies and gentlemen who aspire to a career in revenue management it is upon you to set yourself apart from the pack. Make sure you stand out. Having accomplished your studies with good grades combined with revenue management internships simply will not do the trick anymore.
Hotel businesses are looking for something more. Revenue management is a business development area, which requires people to take initiative and research. You will be judged during a recruitment process on what you have done beyond what has been served to your during education.
Perhaps you should read the book Linchpin by Seth Godin to understand what kind of self starting, and shipping minded people the hotel industry is looking for in its future revenue and yield managers.
But it does not end there if you wish to have a successful career. You have to continuously stay up to date with what is going on in the hotel and travel industry. Reading up on the latest developments on industry news websites is a must. Here some of the sites we follow: Tnooz.com, eHotelier.com, HotelNewNow.com, HospitalityNet.org, HotelMarketing.com, HotelsMag.com and TravelWeekly.com.
And if you have already a few years of work experience in the hotel industry but now would like to switch from operations to revenue management, be prepared to take step back. Same goes for you, you will have to earn your tracks before you can expect to be bumped up.
You should perhaps also take some courses in revenue management and do a fair amount of reading and self study. But in the end it is the years under the belt in hands on revenue management experience that will get your career moving.
No one will take a risk on you just because of your ambition!
Reading back this blog post myself it seems revenue management in the hotel industry is going more and more in the direction of the career path within the financial sector. I think we can conclude the hospitality industry is slowly making a shift toward becoming a more professional business.