By Karen Wollard, Ed. D., CHDM, HSMAI Foundation Research Manager
Who are all those happy people in Zoom squares, and why are they wearing graduation caps? They are the graduates of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts revenue management strategic plan program that resulted in 55 team members receiving their Certified Revenue Management Executive designations. With 56 more candidates currently in classes, this best practice is creating success for the revenue management team, their hotel clients, and the organization.
Starting with a Commitment to Growth
As a result of the pandemic, Wyndham executives realized that revenue management and the need to protect their property owners was critical. Vikram Pradhan, global vice president of global revenue management, attributed the commitment to investing in growing their revenue management talent to “the transformational aspects of getting through the pandemic and emerging when it’s over, totally prepared for what comes next. We had to look at our technology, our systems and processes and, of course, we had to upskill our teams.”
Preparing for Certification
Pradhan tapped Jolene Koepp, CRME, CHBA, now director of revenue management training and operations, to be their certification “champion” and set a goal to have 100% of revenue managers certified. Koepp worked with the staff at HSMAI to obtain applications and study guides, along with a complete set of test-prep course materials. She tailored the materials to fit the needs of their team and created six weekly 90-minute Zoom sessions. The sessions taught and reinforced key revenue optimization concepts, while using an online collaboration application to give candidates experience answering the types of questions that would be on the certification exam.
Koepp acknowledged that test-taking can be stressful. “People get nervous,” she said. “Some of our team hadn’t take an exam in years.” The sessions and the camaraderie of learning together boosted the team’s confidence as they aimed to get to the finish line together.
Daniel Hintzen, CRME, senior manager and regional revenue manager, is one of the graduates. He said he jumped on the opportunity to improve and obtain all he could from the coursework. He offered this advice to the new class of students: “Take a moment to step back and take it all in. Don’t just rush to the end. Pay attention to the important lessons. Break it down and take your time.”
Pradhan said that the program wasn’t just about upskilling the team, it was about building their confidence and ensuring they felt they were offering best-in-class revenue management services to their hotels. The program also included leadership and soft skills classes, as well as a review of levels of individual and team compensation.
Celebrating the Team’s Achievements
When the testing was done, it was important to celebrate and acknowledge the group’s achievement. Invitations and packages were sent to the homes of the new CRMEs; the package included a graduation cap. Wyndham CEO Geoff Ballotti, Chief Marketing Officer Lisa Checchio, HSMAI President and CEO Bob Gilbert, as well as Wyndham’s chief counsel, attended the virtual ceremony. A video featuring the graduates with their caps and certificates was posted to the Wyndham LinkedIn page and shared with the team.
Gilbert noted that, “It is companies like Wyndham that continue to add to the overall professionalism and competency levels of revenue professionals worldwide, while achieving performance premiums for their organization. And it is educational initiatives like this that, when executed in a creative manner that includes fun, engagement, and recognition, will lead to long-term company loyalty and retention.”
Return on Investment
The revenue management team grew in headcount by 19% during the first cohort, with 10 team members subsequently being promoted. As a direct result of this strategy, over 250 hotels joined the Wyndham Revenue Management Service, a 24% increase. There was a lift in RevPar Index, and Net Promoter Scores were also up.
In addition to increased team and owner confidence, the commitment of all departments to better collaborate grew. The CRME designation process presented the whole picture of driving revenue, giving perspective on sales, marketing, staff, and operations, and seeing how it all must work together.
Finally, the investment in the development of teammates during this unprecedented pandemic has led to loyalty and commitment to the organization and owners. Lowering turnover while increasing sales is what proves this is a best practice.
Hospitality revenue professionals can be recognized for their knowledge, experience, and capabilities in the discipline through HSMAI’s Certified Hospitality Revenue Management Executive (CRME) designation. Learn more about how to get certified.