Enhancing Audience Engagement in Revenue Meeting

By. Eden Grant 27th Jan 2014

How To Communicate In Revenue Management Meetings & Bridge The Gap

Between The Audience And Speaker

Gap… Google tells me it is: “…a break or hole in an object or between two objects”. It is also a revenue manager’s worst nightmare. Let us take a quick look at the illustrated point below.

As concerning as this point is, these gaps, consequently, become opportunities across the revenue function. We like to listen to our version of messages, hence the distorted (or ignored message) seen above, is merely a symptom of trusting personal perspective, as well as diversified end goals. If you can successfully navigate through The Clear Communication Delusion, you are well on your way to a sustainable revenue project management.

The Goal – Why are we here?

From the get go, explain why your team is meeting and discussing a new revenue project, or plan. More importantly, relay the benefits to the team(s) over the short and long term horizon.

Too many times, we as revenue facilitators neglect to breakdown the reasons and ultimate goals of a new project. The more effectively you can communicate a shared goal, and deliver a framework of success attached to the plan, the more likely it is that your parties will commit to working with you.

The goal, or purpose of your gathering, needs to be crystal clear in your mind. If you do not know exactly why you are calling a meeting, the attendees will not – head straight back to the drawing board. Your goal will dictate whether a scheduled meeting is the correct manner of communicating your message. An announcement of a new analyst joining the team might not require a meeting – unless your company vision and mission takes new recruits this seriously!

The Audience – Who is involved?

The characters in revenue meetings vary, but might include: Head of Sales, General Manager, Reservations Manager and the Commercial Director.

Discussing the percentage change of transient business with this group of people is not necessary; communicating the need to change the business mix to support overall rate growth is. Ensure you tone down revenue management jargon to a minimum, and focus your efforts on communicating business outcomes. I have a tendency to explain analytical findings before stating the business point.

Learning to get the revenue message across, efficiently, is a key factor in clear communication. The trick is to remember that the audiences listening tendencies and needs trump your preferred communication style every time.

The Space – Where will we meet?

The space – online or offline – used to communicate the message is imperative to successful communicationI have attempted to relay a project via email (in extensive detail), through group messenger chats and with Google IM’s. Time and time again, I have noticed that a project is far better understood when the project is communicated in a face-to-face revenue meeting. You might think this is a fairly obvious point, but often we attempt to communicate our projects or revenue plans through an electronic medium.

If the project requires buy-in, and requires facilitation across multiple departments… Best you add it to your next agenda. Practically, the space you select should work for your audience. Boardrooms generally cannot hold 180 delegates, and Google Hangouts require an internet connection.

On the point of Google Hangouts, with the explosive movement of online, close physical proximity is not a necessity for successful communication. Revenue management is being successfully executed trans-continent, across multiple sub revenue teams. I personally still advocate gathering a team together, but, there are various ways to communicate effectively across team members that are based at opposite ends of the earth.

One such way is a Google Hangout. The Google Hangout is my preferred social online tool, and has assisted us with streamlining our adhoc meetings. It supports a handy screen share function, which allows you to “show and tell” your meeting information. This has proven to be an important visual tool for my meetings, particularly when revenue data is reviewed.

The Feedback – Did they comprehend this?  

Simply put, if there is silence, you are in deep deep revenue trouble.

There are two reasons your teams go quiet.

1) It is Friday 14:00.

2) They have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

I made the mistake of setting a Friday systems training session at 15:00 a few weeks back. Never again. Between the sea of blank stares and subsequent systems queries the following Monday, I knew I had failed dismally. I now add an extra 15 minutes to any meeting session with the explicit point of seeking out feedback on the meeting topic. It gives me a quick overview of the level of understanding (or lack thereof).

As crucial as the goal is for even considering hosting a meeting; the feedback is equally important for understanding whether the goal has been met. This could be in the form of questions, a post-meeting email or an idea generation session.

My favourite tactic is “down play”. By toning down my own knowledge, and suggesting that I do not fully understand how we can drive actions – the attendees immediately begin supporting my uncertainty by providing me with information. You can instantly gauge which individuals are comfortable with a plan, and which members show resistance or confusion. For further consolidation, as well as providing an alternative platform for the shy guys, I re-iterate items in formal minute outcomes.

The Time – How much is it going to cost?

Time, our most important and undervalued commodity, must be used with care when communicating!

I like to think of two extreme scenarios when dealing with meeting sessions. I ask myself: “What is the cost per minute of keeping my senior members in a meeting too long?” and, “What is the cost per minute of not communicating this revenue message clearly?”. Between these two time posts is where you should aim.Certain meetings require a full day session, but routine revenue meetings need a 40 minute window.

Considering the above elements, what would a good revenue communication framework look like? How do we increase the odds of a team really hearing the message LOUD and CLEAR?

The below construct is my mental process for interacting with the varying functions within the team. There are degrees of workplace formality and norms, so the basic framework represents a basis for overcoming the most obvious barriers to communication.

If you think of the ‘white space’ in this framework as your opportunity for communicating effectively, it assist with seeing the elements in perspective.

Your opportunity can only manifest as a result of a predetermined goal and the post meeting feedback from your audience tests communication success. This feedback quality will indicate if you maximised the ‘white space ‘opportunity. Time and Space play a role and are elements that you, as the speaker, need to be aware of.

You can directly control the goal creation and seek out the feedback on either side of the actual meeting time. By attempting to optimise your usage of time and space, your chances of success should increase.

Remember, it is the audience who you are priming by setting communication enablers. The audience is number one. The goal, space and time must with the unique facets of your team. Adapt and modify these elements until you reach the most desired feedback state. Victory!

It might take a few attempts, and certain plans will go uncommunicated at times, however, any establishment wanting to be the best, will need to understand the role of effectively communicating a plan to deliver long-term value.  Do not make the mistake of being heard, but not understood in your next revenue project.

About Eden Grant

Eden Grant is the Senior Revenue Analyst for a hotel management company in Johannesburg, SA, http://www.extrabold.co.za/. Fan of challenging the status quo and driving stronger revenue culture through a focus on the people and refined. Eden has ambitious, with a keen focus on the refinement and conceptualizing of processes within the hospitality industry; challenges are what she 

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