2020 Revenue leaders - [part 3]: How I kept sane during a pandemic

2020 Revenue leaders - [part 3]: How I kept sane during a pandemic

It’s tough to find the right word to describe 2020 for hotel revenue leaders – dynamic? tumultuous? uncertain? Let’s just say it seems like each day has provided a new challenge. On top of the stresses the pandemic has placed on us at home, keeping our businesses afloat has added tremendous pressure.

In part one of this series, we outlined why flexibility is key for revenue leaders developing strategies today, and in part two, we discussed how an increase in automation will affect our roles.

Those who have remained employed struggle to find balance – on one hand, we’re grateful to have jobs while so many around us have lost theirs; on the other hand, we’re stretched incredibly thin and overwhelmed with determining the right strategies for our properties moving forward.

The most successful revenue leaders have found ways to cope. Over the past few weeks, OTA Insight spoke with top executives from around the globe to get a sense of new habits or personal goals that helped them get through the year. Below, we outline how hoteliers have managed to get through the year.

Sean Lynch, VP of revenue management, Graduate Hotels:

“Prior to the pandemic, I had quite the extensive travel schedule. So, to now have eight months of really no travel, not only was my professional life altered, but my personal life was also. Being home is always a welcomed feeling, but as we all know, too much of anything can be bad for you. In this case and just like so many others, the sacrifice is to mental health.

“To combat the feeling of isolation or claustrophobia, I have made it a point to just be outdoors more often. I am blessed to live in the desert Southwest where weather is accommodating and the destinations to hike or to take a day trip are plentiful. When the peak summer heat hit, just a walk around my neighborhood really made me feel more balanced and still appreciate the small things in life.”

Sloan Dean, CEO, Remington Hotels:

“I exercise routinely, four to five times a week. I did not let the pandemic stop that.  In fact, I increased my exercise levels while battling a few body injuries. My Peloton is what kept me sane in April and May. Exercise and sleep inoculate the body against stress.”

George Westwell, CEO, Cheval Collection:

“Over my years in the hospitality sector, I’ve been used to long hours on property in operations, and latterly in an office, but I was surprised at how easy it was to adapt to working from home full time. The ‘time back’ from what used to be my commute has allowed me to spend much more time with family, and I find I don’t miss the city environment the way I thought I might.”

David Bowd, CEO, Salt Hotels:

“I had SoulCycle in my life before, but in the studio, so with everything closing I bought an at-home bike and I have made sure that I dedicate at least 45 minutes each day (and sometimes twice a day) to exercise and step away from the mountain of emails or meetings that seem to have increased during this pandemic. I caught COVID early in the year and it knocked me out for three weeks, with a long recovery, so my focus going forward is a much more balanced lifestyle with regular fitness and wellness built into every day.”

Rhett Hirko, global VP of revenue optimization, Preferred Hotels & Resorts:

“Patience and optimism. I’m a pessimist by nature, but have had to lead by example, finding jewels of opportunity and running after it. Being creative has been ever so critical as we find new solutions to age old problems, and I love engaging my creative side. I’ve been sure to recognize the psychological tolls this takes and let my staff know they should do this as well – taking time for yourself has never been more important. Finally, I’m lucky enough to live in the Southern California wine country, so taking time for personal fitness and running 5k daily, taking in the views helps my mind stay clear and positive!”

Marta Varela, Director of Revenue Strategy, Barcelo Hotel Group:

“I have enrolled in several courses and I have been super active networking and being part of all kinds of webinars, unofficial mentorings, coaching and motivating current and former team members. Tha has given me the self-motivation to keep going.” 

Olga Sommer, Director of Revenue, Nobu Hotel London Portman Square:

“Not holding on to anything too tight. What seemed like a great idea or suggestion two weeks ago may no longer be relevant. Remaining flexible and open-minded is vital in this ever changing world.”


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