Updated: Jun 14
In the archives of history, technical ability once defined the crème de la crème among revenue management (RM) professionals. However, as technology continues to permeate our lives and the era of artificial intelligence is upon us, it is the soft skills that now take center stage. So, what are the top five indispensable soft skills that empower the modern RM professional to reach new heights:
In the past, we valued technical skills first (sometimes exclusively) while soft skills were an afterthought. Today, with advanced technology and a better understanding of the RM practice, thinking has shifted.
A little over a decade ago, in 2010, I sat in a classroom of bright-eyed revenue managers and was painstakingly taught how lambda and alpha forecasts were calculated. Those days were marked by rigorous Microsoft Excel workshops and challenging classroom assessments, where we basked in our technical ability. In fact, the decision to hire often hinged on the outcomes of the intricate Excel quizzes we subjected prospective team members to. It was an era when the revenue manager with the finest Excel skills typically achieved the most outstanding commercial results.
However, times have changed. We now wield enhanced technology capable of amalgamating datasets from diverse sources and presenting them in visually compelling formats. While technical prowess remains vital, it is no longer the sole determinant of excellence in revenue management. It is the softer, less formally trained skills that truly set the crème de la crème apart from the rest.
In the Global Leadership Forecast study conducted by the esteemed DDI, it was revealed that organizations blessed with high-quality leadership were a staggering 13 times more likely to outperform their competitors. This finding underscores the critical importance of honing the top five soft skills that empower revenue management professionals to achieve the utmost results. Let's take a look at them:
Soft Skill No. 5: Commercial Creativity
In the realm of contemporary revenue professionals, their role extends far beyond the mere manipulation of rates and public prices. They hold the key to unearthing fresh avenues for revenue generation. That could be through imagining ancillary streams like insurance dynamically priced by lead time and value, or by envisioning the latent value in untapped products such as flexibility options or distinctive room attributes.
While their technical mettle is tested as they attempt to validate these innovative concepts, it's the ability to identify and conceptualize creative new revenue streams that are most desirable in a modern revenue leader. Thus, while technical expertise forms the bedrock of their proficiency, it is the infusion of a commercially creative mind that unfurls the realm of infinite possibilities.
Soft Skill No. 4: Decisive Leadership
Decisive RM stands as a cornerstone for attaining unparalleled success and realizing desired outcomes within any hospitality organization. Decisive RM professionals have an unwavering ability to illuminate the path ahead. They swiftly assess the available information, weigh the options at hand, and take resolute action. A decisive level of clarity bestows upon the wider commercial team a unified sense of purpose, cultivating trust and goodwill while minimizing dithering and delays.
Decisive RM professionals also possess the innate capacity to navigate uncharted waters, even when armed with incomplete or uncertain information. With a keen analytical acumen, they evaluate the available data, consult the wisdom of experts, and embrace calculated risks, thereby providing unwavering stability and guidance during tempestuous times. They accept that not every outcome will go their way but they possess the resolve to stop when things aren't working. Confidently decisive RM professionals then have the courage to risk it all over again for the next creative idea not shrinking in the face of an inevitable bad outcome.
Soft Skill No. 3: Epic Collaboration
The true essence of RM lies in cultivating relationships—both within the organization and with external stakeholders. Exceptional RM professionals are adept at building and nurturing connections that transcend transactions. They foster trust, engender loyalty, and cultivate a network of allies who champion their cause.
However, we cannot speak of epic collaboration without addressing the fascinating interplay between RM, Sales, and Marketing. It is within this dynamic relationship, and with operations, that the true essence of commercial magic unfolds, while the absence of collaboration can lead to missed opportunities and diminished outcomes.
The ability to navigate through conflicting objectives, to find common ground amidst diverse perspectives, becomes the defining factor that separates mediocrity from exceptional outcomes. The astute RM professional understands that collaboration is not merely a convenient option but an essential ingredient for surpassing budget expectations and dominating the STR KPI's.
Soft Skill No. 2: Earned Influence
The finest RM professionals are well aware that breathing life into commercially creative ideas and unlocking latent value requires a sacred force known as 'earned influence'. But what is earned influence? It is an influence that transcends titles and positions. It is built upon a foundation of timeless principles that empower RM professionals to sway hearts and ignite inspiration. Influence is a learned skill and crafted asset made up of six core principles, not an inherent gift. The true masters of the craft comprehend these six core principles and dedicate time to sculpting their influence with utmost care and deliberation.
The learned skill of influence is akin to the wings that allow a bird to take flight, embracing its creative flair and reaching new heights of excellence. An RM professional understands that true mastery lies not only in their technical expertise but in the art of earning and wielding influence with grace and finesse.
Soft Skill No. 1: Communication Mastery
Communication is the cornerstone upon which epic collaboration is built and magnetic influence is earned. It is the bridge that connects hearts and minds, transcends barriers, and fosters meaningful connections. The true mastery of communication lies not in the mere exchange of words, but in the ability to convey commercial ideas and RM concepts with clarity, empathy, and resonance. It is through effective communication that RM professionals can articulate their strategies, align diverse and conflicting stakeholders, and inspire collective action toward a shared purpose. It is the language of success.
But communication extends beyond words. It encompasses active listening—the art of truly hearing and understanding the perspectives and needs of others. Effective communication extends from a position of curiosity and not authority - it acknowledges that there could be flaws in our plans and actions (not always easy for an RM professional to accept!). It involves empathy—the ability to step into the shoes of our colleagues, guests, and owners, and to communicate with compassion and authenticity. It embraces non-verbal cues—the subtle nuances of body language, facial expressions, and gestures that enhance our messages and builds deeper connections. And communication is a two-way street. As much as Top Tier RM's convey their thoughts and intentions, they must also create the space for others to express themselves, an art I overlooked far too often in my own RM career.
While technical skills remain a vital foundation for revenue management professionals, there is a greater tapestry of requirements that beckons their attention. The astute RMS providers continue to rise to the occasion, expanding their granularity, facilitating technical needs, and harnessing the advancements of AI to empower the journey of RM professionals. Their service lessens the burden of technical analysis illuminating the black hole of multiple datasets and disconnected platforms.
Today, it is through the fusion of technical expertise and extraordinary soft skills that we truly redefine what it means to be a modern RM professional. The realm of soft skills extends far beyond the boundaries of those mentioned in this blog. However, through mastering these five essential soft skills, RM professionals will find themselves poised for commercial excellence and prepared for the next phase of their career, whether it be the stewardship of a larger portfolio or the ascent to a coveted C-Suite role. Today, it can be said that the modern RM professional must develop charisma and charm, not just pivot tables and charts.
The Elite Revenue Management Group
The Elite Revenue Management Group is a community for modern RM professional to hone their soft skills and expand their careers. The group is administered under the Grind Leadership Academy offering free tutorials, networking opportunities, specialized coaching programs, and career advancement. Elite Revenue Management is now accepting new members.
Grind Academy offers a 3-day intense onsite or 12-week online coaching program to master these skills and more. Visit the Performance Ally page to learn more