Travel & Hospitality

ZS and HSMAI study shows hospitality revenue stumbling blocks

Feb. 23, 2021 | Press Release | 3-minute read

Evanston, Ill.—Feb. 23, 2021— A study from global professional services firm ZS and Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) sheds light on the work of hospitality revenue managers, revealing that these employees are not—and probably haven’t ever been—able to fully focus on managing revenue.


This new research gives hospitality executives valuable visibility into what can otherwise be an obscure job. The behind-the-scenes nature of a revenue manager’s role, which includes hours of solitary number crunching, has contributed to a disconnect. Revenue leaders are not always privy to property revenue managers’ daily activities and interactions, and revenue managers may be less inclined to speak up about challenges during current economic instability.


The Voice of Revenue Managers Benchmarking Study, conducted in late-2020, surveyed 145 U.S. property revenue managers who candidly shared groundbreaking details about their daily work. They reported spending nearly as much time on non-revenue generating work, such as manual system updates, administrative tasks, internal meetings and report generation, as they did on revenue-generating activities. The survey also showed that the higher the respondents’ titles, the less time they spent on revenue-boosting tasks.


“The findings of this study require the immediate attention of hotel companies,” said Robert A. Gilbert, CHME, CHBA, president and CEO of HSMAI. “To accelerate the path to recovery requires that revenue generation associates be able to focus on revenue generation strategies and tactics, not administrative tasks.”


ZS and HSMAI researchers suggest specific ways revenue managers can pivot to streamline daily activities and resume tasks specific to creating revenue. They advise leaders to embrace automation and process efficiencies; implement ongoing training programs to ensure sustainable, long-term use of revenue management system recommendations; to delegate administrative tasks and to enhance communication, among other advice.


“Everyone from executive level leadership down to revenue analysts bears some responsibility for breaking revenue management out of the old way of doing things,” says Kelly McGuire, ZS Principal. “Instead of giving lip service to the importance of being strategic, pull yourself out of the role of performance reporter and into the role of revenue generator. Improve lines of communication with stakeholders across the organization so that you become a trusted advisor. Find opportunities for automation and advocate with evidence for getting the tools you need to be more efficient and effective at your job. Use the tools you have to their fullest potential.”


While researchers recognize that the pandemic may have slightly influenced survey responses, they believe COVID-19 only exacerbated long-existing dysfunction. And although the hospitality industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, this research offers leaders an opportunity to fundamentally improve the role of the revenue manager for the long-term. This alone could have enormous implications on company’s profits.


“There’s a long, hard road ahead to recovery, but there’s also an opportunity to end up in a better position than where we started, if revenue management can rise to the occasion and break out of the current mold,” says McGuire.


The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) is committed to growing business for hotels and their partners, and is the industry's leading advocate for intelligent, sustainable hotel revenue growth. The association provides hotel professionals and their partners with tools, insights, and expertise to fuel sales, inspire marketing, and optimize revenue through programs such as HSMAI Marketing Strategy ConferenceAdrian Awards and Revenue Optimization Conference. Founded in 1927, HSMAI is a membership organization comprising more than 5,000 members worldwide, with 40 chapters in the Americas Region. Connect with HSMAI at hsmai.orgHSMAI FacebookHSMAI InstagramHSMAI Twitter and HSMAI YouTube.

About ZS

ZS is a professional services firm that works side by side with companies to help develop and deliver products that drive customer value and company results. We leverage our deep industry expertise, leading-edge analytics, technology and strategy to create solutions that work in the real world. With more than 36 years of experience and 8,000-plus ZSers in more than 25 offices worldwide, we are passionately committed to helping companies and their customers thrive. To learn more, visit or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Susan Brophy