By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)
Jenna Villalobos, CRME, vice president of commercial strategy for Outrigger Hospitality Group, has been in the revenue optimization game for more than 20 years, and this year she is HSMAI’s 2021 corporate Revenue Optimization Professional of the Year — an award that will be presented during HSMAI’s ROC Americas event in Dallas on Sept. 29. Recently, Villalobos sat down with HSMAI to share what she loves about revenue management.
How did you first get into revenue management?
I went to school for hospitality management at Johnson & Wales University, and then I started working with CapStar, where I gained a well-rounded operational experience — five years in the front office and accounting. I had an insightful controller that told me to try this new position called revenue management, and I have been working in RM ever since 1999. I love that it’s a blend of people and processes and setting up strategy for the hotel’s success!
What do you do in your current position?
What I’m doing now is having my finger on the pulse of business and technology trends as well as supporting corporate and property teams to achieve their goals. With the pandemic, I’ve been focused on upping communication lines across all disciplines. Early on in the pandemic, I instituted a call with cooperate, property, operations, and revenue leaders in our organization. We still do that each week and share information with each other, and it built camaraderie. We are a closer team because we are able to have fun and stay in tune with each other better than we were before.
How have you seen revenue management evolve as a discipline throughout your career?
Revenue strategy leadership has evolved tremendously, especially with technology advances; instead of manually manipulating data spreadsheets, leaders today can spend their energy creating strategy and action. This shift has led to revenue or commercial leadership having a seat at the executive table now, whereas 20 years ago it was a quasi-analyst position. The discipline is already seeing leaders from revenue sit in the C-suite, which will continue in the future, since the discipline lends itself to a holistic approach to running a successful business.
What keeps you motivated after all this time?
Hospitality is hands down the best industry, globally! Our goal is simple — make people happy — and revenue strategy is the fastest-evolving discipline in the industry. My motivation comes from solving new challenges and doing it through having fun.
What do you do in your spare time?
I love to explore and travel with my family. I’ve been living in Hawaii for the past four years and love trying new food, beaches, or trails.
What does this award mean to you?
The award is more than one person, it reflects on the entire Outrigger team and how our team has been able to be creative during this unique time in our lives. I’m very honored to represent the Outrigger culture and spirit with this prestigious award.
ROC Americas is part of HSMAI’s Commercial Strategy Week in Dallas on Sept. 27–30, 2021. Learn more.