10 Reflections on Budget Season: Lessons Learned

Haley Maltz, CRME, Area Director of Revenue Strategy, CoralTree Hospitality, HSMAI Rising Revenue Optimization Leader Council Member 

As another budget season in the books, it’s a good time to pause and reflect on the lessons learned from this critical period. I talked with the HSMAI Rising Revenue Optimization Leader Council about the challenges faced and strategies employed during this time. Here are our key takeaways for future planning and continuous improvement.  

  1. Adapting to Historical Data Changes: The reliance on historical data was a challenge with changes in ownership and PMS systems. We learned the importance of adaptability and the need for agile methods to ensure historical insights remain relevant despite structural changes.
  2. Reevaluating Market Position and Competition: The intense focus on understanding market positions relative to competitors highlighted the dynamic nature of the industry. We need to realize the importance of continuous market analysis and the need to adjust strategies in response to shifts in market segments and competitive growth rates. 
  3. Valuing Cross-Departmental Collaboration: The budget season reaffirmed the invaluable insights gained from inclusive, cross-departmental collaboration. 
  4. Methodology Matters: The debate between top-down and bottom-up approaches came up in our discussion. Many are now looking towards a more hybrid approach, blending the efficiency of top-down with the detail and inclusivity of bottom-up budgeting.
  5. Embracing Dynamic Budgeting: We discussed the limitations of static budgets as the industry faces unforeseen changes. 
  6. Addressing the Unspoken: The acknowledgment of under-discussed topics within organizations initiated a call for more open and comprehensive discussions around budgeting. 
  7. Growth Rate and Competitive Benchmarking: It’s important to not just track growth rate but actively compare it with competitors. 
  8. Diversification as a Risk Mitigation Strategy: The emphasis on diversified distribution strategies has proven its worth in a time of market volatility and changes. 
  9. Navigating Financial Pressures: The challenges of budgeting under financial constraints and inflationary pressures taught us to balance between ambition and realism.
  10. Investing in Brand for Long-term Stability: The focus on building a lasting brand, rather than relying solely on immediate sales channels, emerged as a key strategy. 

As organizations look ahead, the lessons from this budget season offer lessons for more resilient, responsive, and strategic budgeting.  

Further Reading:  


Questions for your team:  

  • What historical data do you look at when preparing the next year’s budget? 
  • Which team members are involved in the top-line revenue budget process? Does it solely fall upon the Revenue leader? 
  • Are static budgets here to stay or will dynamic budgets become more common? 
  • Everyone has an opinion: where have you seen successes with merging asset managers’ + corporate + on-the-ground teams’ expectations for a successful budget? 

Categories: Revenue Management
Insight Type: Articles