In our series, ‘Questionnaire for Revenue Managers,’ managers describe what their everyday business looks like and what challenges they regularly face. Today we talk to Maru E. Alemán, who works as revenue manager for Keahotel EHF, chain of hotels in Iceland.
Why exactly did you choose this job?
I think it was more like the job chose me. After being in reservations at a four-star hotel, the biggest hotel in Iceland, I was appointed to take care of the online distribution. It was then when I started attending revenue management workshops, seminars, and other meetings. Having started that, I became really interested and loved it so much that I started educating myself in revenue management, received certification from Cornell University, and haven’t stopped since.
What would make your work easier?
I believe that having the right tools and technology in place helps make some of our tasks easier. From my experience, some hotels still have to drag out reports manually, as well as input data manually. Technology should automate tasks and help us make informed decisions, based on facts and statistics, although I think having good business acumen and knowledge of the market helps, too.
What kinds of challenges does a revenue manager face every day?
Definitely technology is an everyday challenge; we are either talking about our online distribution or our PMS.
Is there anything that you do that could be automated?
A lot! Currently, I do everything manually, including input of rates, inventory, price checks, reservations, payments, etc.
Which of your tasks are the easiest, and which are the most difficult?
I think my job and the position I am in, starting a new department within a chain of hotels, can be challenging. It’s not so much the process itself, but you will always find some people not so open to the concept and philosophy of revenue management. That makes your work, let’s say, less easy. Battling with technology, trying to understand the data, and getting the right information can also be tricky.
I love interacting with all of the people in my departments, including the hotel managers, and keeping a good relationship with them. When it comes to training my team in revenue management practices and creating a revenue culture within the organization, those responsbilities are fairly easy, and I enjoy them. Of course, loading the rates and inventory on the different channels is a quite simple task, but time-consuming, since it is not automated.
Which of your revenue manager tools could you not do without?
My channel manager and Excel spread sheets.
And what would you say is your “secret weapon”? How do you use it?
Ohh well, I am not sure if these are my secret weapons, but I think my perseverance, experience, charisma and passion help me in my daily tasks. I use perseverance to achieve some of my tasks/goals that might seem impossible or hard to accomplish. My experience and market knowledge does pays off in everything I do. I have been working in the industry with different departments for over fifteen years worldwide, and in Iceland for the past seven; therefore, I have a good grasp of business trends and market behavior. Finally, I think my charisma and passion for what I do helps me make good relationships in the field and better understand the partners I work with. They also make communicating these principles throughout my organization and others much easier.
If you look into the future, what does the role of a revenue manager look like?
I think the role of a revenue manager has evolved and will continue to do so. For hotel chains, the revenue manager will be a key player/position in the company at a corporate level and will have more decision-making responsibilities within the company. In the future, revenue managers will report to the board of directors and CEO and will work together with sales and marketing teams. Revenue managers will need to have a good knowledge of digital marketing and e-commerce, in order to manage online exposure more effectively. They should be able to adapt quickly to ever-changing business environments and technology.
Maru E. Alemán was born and raised in Panama in a Catholic family of five sisters, no boys. After completing her Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management in Panama in 2003, she went to Switzerland to pursue her MBA. In 2006, she graduated from Cesar Ritz College in Switzerland with an MBA in Hotel and Tourism Management. While pursuing her Master’s degree, she met her Icelandic husband and has been in Iceland ever since. She and her family like to travel whenever they have the opportunity. Maru loves cooking for, and spending time with, family and friends.
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