A Chat About Revenue – Thulani Xhali – General Manager

TrevPAR World - Thulani Xhali

What social media channels are you on and why have you selected them?

I’m passively on Facebook, twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn but I can’t imagine I’m interesting enough to the point that I can produce decent content in my daily life to keep an audience. 

Facebook – Just to be on the radar, I suppose. 

Twitter – The unfiltered thoughts of a man in crisis.

Instagram – Follow my struggles as I journey towards a decent handicap.

LinkedIn – I like this one.  I will kill it last (menacingly strokes cat)

As a non-revenue professional in the industry please describe Revenue Management in one word; 


In terms of Industry, what do you always stick by when looking at revenue growth?

There is nothing that I “always stick by” because I believe that it is my responsibility to change my mind on the receipt of new or better information but I do have a principle belief, which is to trust the analytics. Your analytics come from your various forms of guest engagement and your guest, without being crude, is your revenue. Allow them to tell you where and how they want to spend and then give them honest options in that direction. 

Where do you see Revenue Management in 5 years from now?

First off, there’s going to be a patch of time where technological advances might have operators believe that they can fully automate the revenue management process. There are already plenty of systems that make this claim but before any major crisis, it will become evident that these systems and advances are going to need a champion to manage them. Thus, revenue managers will need to accept and be more proficient in engaging with said systems. 

Second, the idea of full hotel management in revenue management will go from being an ideal to a necessity.  Operators will want revenue management to go into all of the revenue generating departments and actively apply revenue growth principles to all areas. For instance, the latent expectation that better occupancies will consequently lead to better revenues without actual design will be a thing of the past.

In your opinion what is more important in terms of Revenue Measurement – ADR, RevPAR or Occupancy?

RevPAR.  It takes both ADR and occupancy into consideration to give you a more realistic and complete value and view of your property.    

As a non-revenue professional, what do you think is lacking in today’s Revenue Management Culture?

A genuine appreciation for the capacity and insights of people in operations.  We work in a highly labour intensive industry and I feel that at times, revenue professionals underestimate the value of insights of people on the ground.

TrevPAR World - Thulani Xhali

What do you think is the best way that revenue management culture can be adopted into the organisation?

Simply by being present. Allow people in operations to understand your reasoning instead of it feeling like a detached instruction from above.  As previously stated, we work in people industry and thus psychology plays a large role so empathy from all is key for working towards a common target.

In terms of Revenue Management and Revenue Growth, what do you think the most important aspect is to focus on?

I believe in developing incremental revenue growth strategies.  This speaks to gentle and ways of providing guests with the opportunity to spend a little bit more and have them feel good about it.  

What role do you think revenue management will play in your field of expertise in the next 5 years?

People in my position and similar can no longer leave this function to others, we have to get involved and understand our business in totality otherwise one will be the architect of their own obsolescence. 

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself that nobody would expect; Please provide photo to go with this

Sometimes… in the winter… I like to silence lambs…

TrevPAR World - Thulani Xhali

Who and Where is the best hotel you have ever stayed in?

This answer is going to be longer than it needs to be so please bear with me.

I have been fortunate that I have been able to acquire a few stamps on my passport and have been to some amazing properties but there’s a fair amount of fortune and chance attached to that privilege. 

This has made me realize how inaccessible some of these properties would be if I wasn’t in a certain position and that’s quite sad.  It’s tough to think that something as wonderful as hospitality or hotels are just simply out of reach for some, so instead of an ultra-lux or exotic hotel I’m going to say, The CitizenM.  It’s an amazing example of forward thinking and how to break the mold while respecting tradition. 

CitizenM - TrevPAR World

On closing, what bit of advice will you give all aspiring hoteliers that are trying to make a name for themselves in your field of expertise?

Listen.  Whether it’s to guests, champions of industry or subordinates, take the time to listen. People want to share their thoughts and stories and if you let them speak, you will have some amazing insights and learn great lessons.

Thulani has been a personal friend of Derek Martin the founder of TrevPAR World for nearly 10 years and we would really like to thank Thulani for taking the time to deliver some great insights on how a General Manager views the current and future state of revenue management.

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