The Secret Language of Revenue Managers.
By Jil Larson
Tuesday, 13th July 2010
Over a decade ago when I took my first revenue management position, I was able to dazzle the masses at our Board of Ops meetings with terms like 'RevPAR' and 'yield index.'

To make myself invaluable, I'd then develop Powerpoints explaining these terms and conduct seminars for various departments.  You can imagine their delight.

Once completed, I'd make up new terms and begin the process over again.  Did I say yield index?  I meant RevPAR index.  Did I say market share?  I meant occupancy penetration.  Who cares about RevPAR, what we need to work on is ProPAR!

To further solidify my position as the master of mystery, I began training associates on how to read the STR report.  It was a heartless move, I know, but it provided hours of entertainment for me.  It takes only seconds to play with someone's mind when they're trying to discern whether or not we had a good month.  Sure we were ranked first, but look at our change in ADR vs the comp set!  Sure our RevPAR growth outpaced the competition, but our Monday transient occupancy penetration was a disaster!

Then I made the move to a big corporate-managed hotel and received a healthy dose of my own medicine.  Suddenly I was to maximize TADR because group was pacing ahead on the PSA and the wash was going to leave room for BAR, no need to build in reach.   Ummmm….what?  Every time I talked to a cohort at a sister property I heard five new words that eventually turned out to be synonyms for perfectly good words already in existence.  During the latter half of the 1990's, every revenue manager got to come up with their own terminology and sell it with confidence, no questions asked.

Over the years I got the lingo down pat and I no longer have issues discussing TRE (transient rate efficiency), GCRGRN (group catering revenue per group room night), or ISRN (incidental spend per room night.)  Now the only problem is, I have no one to discuss them with.

Ever attend a meeting with a room full of revenue managers?  Everyone's talking at once and gesticulating wildly; the least excitable individuals imaginable suddenly turn into twelve year old girls at a slumber party.   All because, for a short time, we are surrounded by people who understand us.   Someone can throw out any acronym he likes and even if I haven't heard it, I'll instantly be able to translate it into my own terminology and fire something even more incoherent back at him.  It's geek nirvana.

Revenue managers have a language unto themselves.  I empathize with General Managers who ask me for a cheat sheet of terminology so they can try to understand what's going on in a revenue strategy meeting, but I have yet to provide one.  It would be pointless, given that my lexicon (much of which was invented by me) won't marry up with anyone else's, and will be hopelessly out of date within a few months.  Furthermore, just because revenue people use fancy fabricated words doesn't mean they know what they're doing.  I've found that a lot of them are skimming by on the wow factor of their vocabulary alone, so be cynical.

If you find yourself baffled by nonsensical words being recited by your revenue manager, stop the discussion cold and request an explanation for the word as soon as you hear it.  And not just the definition, but the reason it's of any value to the issue at hand.   Doing that once or twice should immediately reduce the amount of garble by half. 

If you find the term useful, ensure the definition is clear to everyone and mandate that no other word(s) be introduced for the same concept.   That'll clamp down on the creative license we geeks like to take to keep ourselves necessary. 

Translation services shouldn't be a necessary component of the revenue manager's job description.

Service providers at Dynamic RM are proven leaders in the hotel revenue management field with established track records of success in a variety of hotel companies. These individuals are now independent contractors dedicated to the success of their hotels.

Dynamic RM was established by Jil Larson, a 25 year hotel veteran with leadership experience throughout the U.S.A. and Canada in revenue director positions at the property, cluster, regional, and corporate levels. When warranted, Ms. Larson involves partner revenue management leaders, each with particular expertise in specific markets, market segments, or software systems.

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