Beyond Rooms: Revenue Management

With Ms Alka Kapoor, Director of Global Implementation Planning, Strategy and Delivery, Global Revenue Management of InterContinental Hotels Group

A veteran of Singapore’s hospitality scene, Ms Alka Kapoor first began her career with the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) after graduating from SHATEC in 1990.

She then worked for four years in various departments at IHG, leaving her last role as Revenue Manager to join the then Bass Hotels and Resorts to set up their Data Management and Revenue Systems Training team. This marked the start of her extensive travels training new hotels in the IHG Revenue Systems and Revenue Management.

Today she is the Director of Global Implementation Planning, Strategy and Delivery of Global Revenue Management at IHG, based in Atlanta, Georgia. She currently leads a team in charge of implementing and securing Revenue Systems and capabilities in all of IHG’s hotels.

As to what inspired her to venture into Revenue Management, she shares that her boss and mentor recognised her desire to learn and her problem-solving and analytical skills. She was then asked to represent the hotel as its lead in a new application called The Revenue Plan.

Since then, revenue management and Kapoor have come a long way together, where she has worked across four continents.

Sharing her global perspective on hotel management, she candidly notes that “the differences revolve around the structure, organisation, management and the standard operations of a hotel which are influenced by the political and economic climate of the respective country.”

According to her, the differences between the hospitality scenes in Atlanta and Singapore lie in the business markets and of course, their geography. Singapore is geographically smaller and more densely populated than most US cities, hence the market is very fast-paced, and changes occur at breakneck speed.

What is Revenue Management?

“Being a revenue manager is like being Sherlock Holmes”,she jokes. It is more than everyday mathematics. It is about taking the data and making sense of it to make smart, informed and beneficial decisions for the hotel.

Her most important advice? “Never take your finger off the pulse. Always ensure you have an eye on the market, the business, competitors and operations. It is  like a “four-eyed” job!”she quips.

Not surprisingly, revenue management also rapidly undergoes technological advancements, chiefly engaged to improve workplace processes. Yet it is vital to remember that the predictive analyses that such systems churn are only as good as the data it collects. To put it succinctly, it’s “garbage in, garbage out”.

Revenue management is about collecting the right data and keeping abreast of the latest trends and shifts within the industry. “The past data is what you learn from, the future is what you need to plan for”,shares Kapoor.

5Ws & 1H TO REVENUE MANAGEMENT

  1. What are you selling?
  2. How are you selling it?
  3. Who are you selling it to?
  4. When are you selling it?
  5. Which channels are you selling it on?

Evolving Hospitality Landscape

Revenue management is also about understanding evolving guest expectations to stay ahead of the competition. It is crucial to match their wants with the hotel’s needs. Kapoor shares that success lies in achieving “balance and efficiency”. She stresses that technology should not take precedence over the guest experience. Instead, there needs to be balance where operational efficiencies are concerned.

Insider Tips To Success In Revenue Management

“Analytical skills are a definite plus. More importantly, it’s the desire to solve problems that is a MUST”, Kapoor stresses. The innate desire to learn, a “can-do” approach towards projects, problem-solving capabilities, inclusive leadership skills and a collaborative mindset are all vital. Being passionate in making things happen doesn’t hurt too!

On Leadership

Hospitality is a way of life for Kapoor. She has been fortunate to have worked with the smartest, kindest and most generous hoteliers throughout her career who trusted her abilities and moulded her. However, she believes that one has to bring their own brand of leadership to whatever they do – their own style and personality with a sense of humanity.

She adds, “It has been a great learning curve to emulate leaders I admire.  What has brought me to where I am today is that I took the lessons learnt and applied them with a touch of style. To be true and authentic is my leadership style. We must learn every day and always have a sense of service to everything we do. Attitude is the key to success.”