Christie Neate is the Portfolio Revenue Manager for InterContinental Hotels Group, which represents 800,000 guest rooms across 100 countries. Christie manages revenue for 15 hotels across Canada, from Deer Lake NL to Victoria BC, including the Loyalist Country Inn and Conference Centrein Summerside.
Working from her field-based home office, she manages rates and inventory in an effort to maximize profits. “Because the technology has come so far, so much more data is available to make effective decisions. I can manage top line room revenues without stepping into their respective markets.
“On a daily basis, I can look at competitive market intelligence, inventory levels, and channel management, and allocate those correctly. This type of role did not exist 10 years ago. New technology has made it possible to collect and analyze data on a much wider scale.
“The technology surrounding our industry will continue to evolve. Today, guests can enjoy an entire hotel stay without engaging with our onsite employees and team members. Guests can book a reservation, check in and access their guest room with a mobile device, receive the invoice electronically and formally check out of a hotel with technology such as apps and email.
“The size and scope of our traditional Front Desk model is changing, and that is something we can be optimistic about. The changes will allow our Guest Services Team to be more engaged with our travellers, outside the traditional check in/check out experience.
“There is a question of what will happen to jobs when these changes are implemented. We need to make sure our employees are comfortable with the changes and training is available. We also need to embrace these changes and find new and innovative ways for our team members to engage with our guests.
“One of our industry’s biggest issues is human resources and labour. Our businesses are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is a challenge to make sure we have the best practices and policies so that staff can balance work and life safely and effectively.”
Hardest positions to fill
“Night auditors work 11 pm to 7 am, and may have issues around safety and security. They also need to be guest focused and very efficient in accounting practices. They balance a days’ worth of transactions across all outlets.
“Room attendants have the hardest job in my opinion. It is hard physical work, and the industry has an aging workforce. There will soon be a gap when our present room attendants start to retire, and we will struggle to find those who want to do that type of work in the same capacity as it was done in the past.
“We are always looking for ways to close the gap on this labour shortage. We have increased training, created mentoring opportunities, and engage with our various brands, design teams and suppliers to ensure our guestrooms are the most efficient to service, and that they have the best tools to do the job. We are also changing the expectation of how many rooms can be done per shift.”
Advancing in the tourism industry
Christie grew up working at her family’s two hotel properties in Baddeck, Cape Breton. She attended Dalhousie University in the Bachelor of Commerce program, completed a college Tourism & Hospitality program and has her AHLEI designation.
After school, she worked at a 352-room hotel property in Halifax. “I then moved to Moncton and worked for three years as Guest Services Manager for an IHG property. That is where I found my mentor, who was doing revenue management. I realized that I could help my industry in a new way, and make my hotel as profitable as possible.”
After that role, she worked for a PEI-based company for seven years in roles in the Rooms Division, Revenue Management, and Operations for a multi-brand portfolio of hotels. “I crossed paths with my mentor again, who told me about the wonderful opportunity with IHG.
“Our team of 12 does revenue management for 184 properties in Canada, totalling 25,500 rooms. There is a demand for more people in this position. You can combine your love of the hotel industry with a passion for business. Although property level roles are crucial in any hotel, operational, financial, or organizational roles are other interesting choices in the industry.”
Tourism groups on PEI
- Tourism Industry Association of PEI: www.tiapei.pe.ca
- Choose Tourism Job Board: www.choosetourism.ca
- Meetings and Conventions PEI: www.meetingsandconventionspei.com
For more information about Intercontinental Hotel Group, visit www.ihg.com.