By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)
Jennifer Hill has worked in hotels since she was 14 and got an early start in revenue optimization, but was more than a decade into her career before she decided to obtain HSMAI’s Certified Revenue Management Executive (CRME) credential. Today the vice president of client solutions for Kalibri Labs, Hill recently shared her professional story with HSMAI — including why she encourages others to become a CRME as well.
Describe your career path.
I grew up in the hotel industry. My mom was a single mom who worked at a hotel, and eventually my whole family worked there in some capacity. I started working for her officially at 14 and worked at the front desk throughout high school. Working in and around a hotel during my childhood led me to my college job, where I got my start on the revenue management side of things. My last semester in college they gave me an opportunity to be a revenue manager full time.
After college, I moved back into operations, so that I could move back to Maryland, where I wanted to live, but soon I was recruited for a revenue management position at Interstate, where I worked for five years. Then I worked for three years at Highgate in a revenue management role, where my career grew to the regional level, overseeing multiple hotels.
Two years ago, I was recruited to Kalibri Labs, which was an opportunity that anyone with the passion for the discipline wouldn’t pass up. It’s a more sales-driven role, but I get to use my background and experience in revenue management as an expert externally and internally. I focus on how we can apply data to our revenue management strategy and internally help team members who don’t come from hospitality with focusing on which data is most important.
What keeps you interested every day?
It’s different every day. We have a really dynamic industry. At the core it is about humans serving other humans and providing a good experience for them. I’ve always tried to not let the business get in the way of delivering that experience. It’s an industry that is unique in that you can grow your career in any direction. You might come in thinking you want to be in sales and find a passion or talent for something in another discipline and learn on the job and be trained. I came up through operations and didn’t know revenue management existed until I was offered the opportunity to do some training exercises.
Why did you decide to get your CRME certification?
I got it in 2014 just before ROC [HSMAI’s Revenue Optimization Conference]. I was [HSMAI’s] Revenue Management Professional of the Year that year, and the VIP reception was for CRMEs and VIPs and I wanted to feel more official by having the certification. It had been on my list for a while, and it was the perfect time.
How has having a CRME helped you?
I don’t have a hospitality degree — my degree is in history — and I think having the certification indicates to the industry or potential clients, partners, and employers that I have taken my role very seriously. It’s a commitment to continue learning and shows the discipline I have for the role and the value I can bring as a partner or potential employee. Having the CRME builds immediate credibility and builds trust that it’s not just experience that I’m relying on, but a foundation of knowledge.
Would you recommend that other hospitality professionals get the CRME?
I would 100 percent recommend others get this. I would say that you should always do things that challenge you in your career, whether that’s getting your certification or asking for a mentor. Make sure you are approaching your career with an abundance of discipline and courage.