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HSMAI | An Exciting New Role at Hotels by Michael Goldrich and Ed Skapinok

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March 17, 2023
Ed Skapinok
Michael Goldrich

Some might say hotels are slow to adapt to change. But over the years, they have actively listened to guests’ needs. Whether it’s getting a first mover advantage or making a change because keeping up with first movers is now a cost of doing business, hotels quickly adapt to their competitors. After all, they’re perfect examples of modern-day microeconomics in action when it comes to supply and demand.

This is apparent when hotels look at their revenue per available room (RevPAR) index as it relates to direct competitors in their compset. While delivering competitive amenities, prices and experiences has been under way for years, there’s a change afoot related to the roles of department team leaders. While staffing shortages aren’t specific to the hotel industry, they have significantly impacted several ways hotels can deliver to both existing and future guests. Hotels need to continue to optimize staffing to deliver the promised brand experience guests expect.

As the way guests shop for travel evolves, the hotel team must meet them where they are in their buyer’s journey. The hotel needs to find a way to make sure it represents itself in the most optimal way to the various segments of leisure travelers, group/meeting planners and businesses. Guest’s seek information about a property such as price, reputation, amenities, and expected on-site experiences. Delivering that information across all channels has always been a struggle, but it’s an ongoing priority across all management teams.


Hotel team roles have been evolving significantly. Years ago, marketers bought ads in newspapers, magazines and radio and posted information on billboards. Now marketing takes place almost exclusively in the digital realm. Marketers use channel benchmarking, marketing technologies and artificial intelligence to identify purchase intent and gain an advantage in converting guests on the hotel’s website.

As guests became more sophisticated and were able to compare hotel prices more easily, the revenue manager’s role evolved to include adjusting room rates for weekdays vs. weekends. Revenue managers began to look at demand and purchase patterns. As a result, they began to adjust prices to take advantage of supply and demand. They installed AI-driven platforms to anticipate the best room price.

As the marketing and revenue teams became more sophisticated, the sales team learned new ways to prospect for business. They began leveraging qualified leads that came through the hotel’s website, and/or partnering with an organization that would aggregate the hotel’s capacity charts and factsheets to capture meeting planner’s requests for proposals (RFPs).

Each of these evolving skills required a different focus. As a result, even though all these teams were part of the hotel's revenue-generating team, they became siloed. They also all had the same ultimate boss, the general manager (GM). While the teams, in theory, must support each other for mutual success, more often than not silos have negative results.

Finger-pointing, for example, represents the ugly side of silos. Typically, it only emerges when the hotel isn’t meeting its goals and the general manager or asset manager wants an explanation during the monthly budget meeting. This meeting can get contentious as each team tries to demonstrate what it did to meet the goal and explain that – while certain economic issues might be at play – it’s possible that another team didn’t do the right thing. And that prevented them from selling rooms, either due to prices being too high (revenue’s fault), not enough bookings on the website (marketing’s fault) or not enough
group business (sales’ fault.)

Though all the different departments that report to the GM have a shared objective to hit the budget, how they strive to do that may not be aligned. Furthermore, the GM is also spending a significant portion of their time with the on-premise guest experience and dealing with day-to-day opportunities and challenges. If the GM has to focus on service delivery, the various revenue-generating teams are left to figure it out.

While the weekly revenue maximization (RevMax) meeting is an opportunity for the various revenue teams to come together and provide input, this meeting is more about what happened last week and what’s coming up. This isn’t true goal alignment per se, as much as a shared reporting experience. People don’t really come together as a single team – it’s more like “This is what I’m doing – what do you need from me?” Moreover, these meetings are more tactical than strategic.

One way to improve team alignment is by evolving the RevMax meeting and giving the different teams shared goals. This is more of a bridge to alignment versus full-scale alignment. The meetings can also become a hybrid – both tactical and strategic. This is hard to do. The best way to achieve this is by making one RevMax a month strategic and the remaining meetings tactical to align with strategies. The reason comes down to human nature and people – accountability and transparency. This can only truly be solved by reporting to a shared individual. But at the hotel level, who is the best person for this role?


The general manager, though they are ultimately accountable for what’s achieved, doesn’t have the expertise or time to truly drive the team to accomplish its revenue-generating goals. At the hotel level, on the revenue-generating team, you have the director of sales and marketing (DOSM). They’re usually more of an expert in sales than in marketing. You have the marketing manager and the sales manager, each of whom reports to the DOSM, and the revenue manager, who typically reports to the GM.

What needs to happen is for the revenue team, sales team and marketing team to report to a single person on the property who isn’t the GM. As indicated, this person needs to have the expertise of all the disciplines to be able to properly manage them and hold their respect. Some hotels have solved this issue at the corporate level by creating a chief commercial officer position.
The revenue generating team reports to this person for the express purpose of alignment. The best way – and really the only way – to successfully implement alignment is through goal alignment. A set of goals for the chief commercial officer cascades down to each of their direct reports, ensuring that the teams are aligned on a shared objective.

One company has already done this. Appellation, a new lifestyle luxury hotel brand, created a new role on the property called director of commerce. This position replaces the leadership of the director of sales, director of marketing and director of revenue on the property.
Some might argue finding an individual with the skills to manage all is like searching for a unicorn. But if you look back into the evolution of hotel teams, it wasn’t that long ago that revenue management didn’t exist as a discipline and the DOSM made all the hotel’s strategic commercial decisions.

Hotels are also investigating new methods of team organization by creating shared service models for marketing, sales and revenue. They need a single point of contact on property who’s an expert in each area – someone who doesn’t just read the reports and react but can be a proactive asset. This will be the perfect role as we emerge from the pandemic into staffing shortages and the need to do more with less.

Creating this role also empowers the corporate team to be more flexible. They can outsource revenue management to area management. They can outsource marketing to be more of a shared service. They can keep sales in-house and partially shared. Requiring the director of commerce to be on-site and to manage the various roles will create significant alignment that allows teams to grow revenue by breaking down silos, creating alignment and improving communication both internally and externally. It provides the GM with a single point of contact as related to commerce to counterbalance the hotel’s operational
This role solves the disconnect that exists between corporate teams and the hotel team. Now the chief commercial officer has a single direct report at the hotel that’s fully accountable. In addition, just as the chief commercial officer’s goals cascade at the corporate level to their direct reports, the director of commerce will also have received cascading goals that will be locked in on a daily, monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis. Hotel team roles will continue to develop to match the guests’ needs.

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