Karin Maurer, the new and first ever Revenue Manager at historic Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron, talks to Click. about diplomacy, politics and the little-known aspects of revenue management
I had an interesting path into revenue management: I studied tourism management in Salzburg part-time and worked in events management in Switzerland for five years. I eventually came back to Salzburg to become the reservations and revenue supervisor at Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron in 2014.
I came from a completely different part of the hotel industry – food & beverage and events – but found my passion for revenue management here. After I took a course in Dortmund, Germany, to become a certified revenue manager I convinced my manager and the senior management here to create this position for me.
A typical day should be checking my room rate online, responding to all the conference and events requests and enquiries, adding data to my records and completing the pace report.
But there is no such thing for me right now, as I’m the first person in this role for this hotel.
Eventually, my plan is to put a revenue management strategy together, not only for the rooms but also for conferences and events. This means collecting a lot of historical data, so my job will evolve a great deal in the next six months.
Forecasting and flexibility
Ultimately, the aim of my role is to optimise revenue, which means I have to optimise the occupancy by using several yield and revenue management techniques, and a major part of my job is forecasting.
I take my historical data, look at what we had in the past and I use that to determine what we can expect in the future. For example, if I had many short-stay bookings over the weekends for Christmas, I can assume it will be the same this year.
Of course, there are many aspects that can change this forecast, such as the political situation. When there was a terror attack in Germany, this really affected a number of hotels there as many guests felt it was unsafe to visit. This is something you can never predict, but you have to bear these kinds of things in mind. For example, I have lots of guests from the UK. Will they come after Brexit? Does it affect my bookings since 30% of my guests come from the UK?
The nature of revenue management is quite fast paced, as there are so many factors that can affect the room rate and bookings, but that’s why I love it.
Managing guest expectations through pricing
Another major challenge is guest expectations. They vary massively: it’s not enough that you have a beautiful historic building and 14-acres of land, it’s also about guest experience. If the waiter is unfriendly, the guest might write about this online and this is something that affects the price of our room – the price the guest is willing to pay is based on reviews more than ever before.
Therefore my role is more than just setting rates and getting the right distribution mix. I also have to predict what the consumer wants and what they’re willing to pay for what we offer.
We have so many different kinds of guests – holiday guests, business guests, seminar guests, wedding guests – this makes my job extremely interesting. While a business hotel will focus on the business guest and the holiday resorts focus on the tourists – I have so many perspectives to consider.
It’s all really season related, though. For example, in summer I focus on weddings and the travelling guest. In the winter season – January to March – I focus more on the business guest because it’s more about conferences. Our owner, Salzburg Global Seminar is also our biggest client and runs various seminars throughout the year.
In December, of course, the weekends are more for the holiday guests that come for the Christmas markets, and during the week it’s more business but also Christmas parties.
The most important thing in my job, though, is that I have the right support. I have excellent support from my manager and the senior management, and I have a really enthusiastic sales team in reception.
I spend a lot of time motivating our booking staff. They don’t inherently know what you want to do as a revenue manager and if they’re not on the same page as you it doesn’t work. They’re the ones selling rooms and talking to the guests, so if they don’t understand what it is about and what we need, it wont work.
It’s not possible to be a revenue manager alone – you need the whole team behind you.
Karin Maurer is the first ever Revenue Manager at Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron in SalzburgMore by Karin Maurer
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