31Aug

3 Expert Tips to Kick Off A Successful Budget Planning Season

Author: Avanti Joglekar

Budget planning season is right around the corner.  Starting your plan can seem daunting, since it will effectively chart the course for how your property’s resources will be allocated in the following year.  As budget planners, you’re beholden not only to the goals of your owners, but the interests of each property segment.  How can you keep everyone happy without compromising on performance targets and spending on resources?  Here are a few tips to get your budget for next year started off right.

Have Clear, Measurable Goals

Your first step is to talk with your managers and owners to determine what’s expected of your property in the coming year.  Ask as many questions as possible to determine precisely how much of an increase is expected from each segment.  The more clarity you have around the expectations and goals for each, the less time you’ll waste making assumptions and running models that end up being off the mark.

You’ll also want to find out how success will be measured.  There are a variety of metrics that could be important, so having a clear picture on which ones to focus on will help guide how you allocate your resources.  Do they want more direct bookings?  What about better customer reviews?  Maybe they’re interested in increasing brand awareness.  Owners and managers usually want to see more than just revenue increases, so knowing what they expect will make sure that you’re focusing on the right targets.

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Put People First

Once you have an idea of what’s expected, you’ll want to make sure that your staff is completely on board with any changes or initiatives.  Your staff has more insight into what your guests want, plus they’ll be able to give you an idea on whether their goals and expectations are realistic.  If there are any issues, talking it through with your staff will make sure you’re in front of potential problems.

Obviously, the most important group to pay attention to is your guests.  You’ll want to comb through your property’s online reviews and guest feedback forms to see what’s working as well as what needs improvement.  Once you know what your guests are saying, you’ll be able to pool your resources for the most impact.

Stay In The Present

As you’re starting your budget planning process, there are certain metrics that will factor heavily into your projections.  Having your previous year’s performance metrics is extremely helpful, but there are other data points to consider that are equally as important.  Don’t feel constrained by the past, since things can and will change.  Your property’s past performance is a valuable figure, but remember that it’s really just a benchmark for your budget plan.

That being said, you’ll also want to avoid moving too far into the future.  You shouldn’t play it too safe, but don’t invest too much on uncharted territory.  There are dozens of untested trends that seem promising, but may not pan out in the long run.  It’s necessary that you create a balance between pursuing new endeavors and being cautious with your revenue so that your budget isn’t wasted on an idea that ends up being a fleeting fad.

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The most critical aspect of budget planning is to keep things simple.  Rather than trying to be all things to all people, decide on a few key segments to focus on and make them the core of your plan.  You’ll need to have a very clear understanding of your target markets so that you’ll know which demographic your property needs to impress.  The easiest way to know what direction to take is to have accurate, timely data at your fingertips.  The right RMS is the critical component in budget planning.  If you’re not confident that your reporting is reliable, current, and able to produce reports that are useful across all of your teams, it’s time to investigate a new option.

Want more expert tips? Check out the second installment of Rainmaker's ongoing webinar series:

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