When Government choices have an impact on Revenue Managers

After putting the finishing touches to our tri-annual calendar for 2016*, I realised that leisure income was going to be difficult to maintain (in an equivalent economic climate), and that adjusting for calendar effects (holidays, bridging days, etc.), which is part of the Revenue Manager’s game, would be much more complex this year.

When you consider that more than 40% of the weeks in 2016 will have a different demand profile to last year**, that there will be fewer bank holidays outside weekends, that it will be a leap year, and that there is a new school calendar: new distribution of school holiday zones A, B and C, spring school holidays brought forward by a week and a redefined back-to-school day, it’s easy to understand the scale of the task for Revenue Managers!

A difficult year for Revenue Managers

The basic and classic reference for RM is N-1, on a constant weekday. Having experienced this 4 years ago, many of the Excel tools and dashboards we use are built by shifting the previous year by one line (Thursday 18 June 2015 is aligned with Thursday 19 June 2014, which we use as a reference). Except that in a leap year, such as 2016, the shift is « 2 days » : Thursday 18 June 2015 will serve as our reference for Thursday 16 June 2016. So be prepared to spend some time updating all your working documents to be able to make valid comparisons!

In spite of everything, this oddity recurs every 4 years and no longer frightens established RMs. But the government has had the bright idea of changing the school holiday zones. The various French Academies have been redistributed. Still based on the 3 zones we know as A, B and C, but differently, in order to « adapt »  to our much-loved territorial reform… For those whose business was heavily impacted by one zone or another, we’re going to have to study this new distribution carefully to anticipate demand correctly and plan an appropriate yield strategy!

In addition to this change in distribution, the Spring school holidays have been brought forward by a week to satisfy the tourism industry. I’m delighted for them, but I feel sorry for Revenue Managers. Those whose business is affected by zone B may find it difficult to use the Spring 2015 holidays as a reference: in 2016, they have been brought forward by 3 weeks! I’m not sure that holidaymakers in this zone will be as keen on outdoor leisure activities in the 1st week of April 2016 as they were in the last week of April 2015… And I’m not talking about holidaymakers whose academy has changed zone in the meantime, which makes things even more complicated! (Spring holidays zone B, 2015: 25 April to 10 May 2015 – 2016: 2 to 17 April 2016

We have our work cut out for us!

A difficult year for leisure activity

But in short, while the calendar effects are more complex between February and June, the summer, All Saints’ and Christmas holidays are always the same from one year to the next. That’s true… usually! But they will also be changing in 2016.

Our beloved Minister, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, has also decided that the first day of the new school year for pupils will not be before 1 September. As a result, the summer holidays will last until Wednesday 31 August, and will start 4 days later, on a Wednesday (6 July 2016), instead of the traditional Saturday. The first week of July, which was already not the easiest to fill or sell, will be even harder!

The same goes for the All Saints’ Day holidays. Since 2012, they have lasted 2 full weeks. A godsend for tourism professionals whose business is on a weekly basis. But in 2016, these 2 weeks will run from Thursday to Wednesday, so you’ll have to make do with just one full week of business… Unless you sell from Wednesday to Wednesday, but will customers like that? It’s hard to say.

In the end, the only holidays that won’t change from 2015 are the Christmas holidays. Phew! Well… that’s without taking into account the fact that Christmas and New Year’s Day (2017) will fall on a Sunday this year, compared with a Friday in 2015. Just like May 1st and May 8th.

Dear Directors, here you are with 4 fewer leisure days in 2016… Fortunately, there will be one extra day for activity!

 *If you don’t have it yet, ask for it here; this calendar gives you a quick overview of the calendar effects.  

** I’ll spare you the inconvenience of having to wait for congresses, trade fairs and other events, that are heavily impacted by trade fairs.

Keywords: Government, Revenue Managers, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, Tri-annual calendar, school holiday zones