I learned the value of balance when I was a child.
Initially it was the balance between school time and play time, between hamlet and friendship. Two parents like mine taught me the importance of sacrifice perfectly so the time dedicated to football had to be proportionate to that of study. Practicing that as a child is a good thing and using that same method, I obtained my second degree in Political Science. I got it while I was working.
A balance between study and work. I worked and studied. It was hard. Maybe. The truth is that because of my work, I had already begun to be a part of a particular, fascinating world and at least at that time, it was a bit mysterious. Due to my work, I had already entered the world of Tourism. I had entered it in a very unusual way, and we will talk about that later because now the important thing is simply that I liked it. I liked it so much that it was not hard for me to work, study, go to the gym, date the girl that would later become my wife. Doing all those things was not hard for me at all.
It wasn’t at all hard for me to work as a porter or a night porter. Albuccione, where I grew up, fixed some Pasolini-like flashes in my memories and in the same way, other important parts of my personal and professional training come from having worked in certain places and at certain times. Training that I later continued doing, for example in languages. Two good ones were not enough.
I can actually speak 5 languages now. However, the reason was more or less the same: I liked the idea of traveling the world with Carla, my wife, to visit beautiful places, to talk with people, understand them, learn about customs, food, life; the idea of traveling while doing a job that is not a burden in the most beautiful companies in the most beautiful of worlds.
I have always been very careful to remind myself that determination makes the difference, that we can do what we really want to do. And I did it. I learned languages so that I could travel, I learned a job so as to be able to travel and then I traveled. We will talk about that later, too, because I’ve been back for a long time. I came back when I realized that there was a great opportunity for everyone in my country.
We know that traveling has only one rule: don’t come back as you were when you left.
And in fact, when I came back, I was different. For two reasons, for two different but inevitably linked meetings. The first one was at a McDonald’s in London with a boy, so Tuscan as to copy my name, who we will talk about a lot; in fact, we will always talk about him. The second meeting was with what we then called Yield Management
It worked and I liked it. I have always liked to understand how things work. I have always liked to study a subject deep down. I like minerals, for example, because they tell us a lot about the places they come from. I liked the Yield Management because it explained so much about the world I worked in. It taught me a lot, but not everything. So I began to try to understand, to study and expand my knowledge so as to follow that feeling I had that made me thing that it could work even better.
And then Revenue arrived. And along with it, so much else. Training, books, conferences, the first consultation and then all the others, the Revenue Team arrived. And so many other equilibriums in my life arrived, too. Without a doubt, the one between company and family. In the meantime, Elettra, my daughter, joined us, too. Along with her school, friends, birthdays, the swimming pool and the park. Everything in perfect equilibrium with the park. It is a city park, the one in my neighborhood, the one where Elettra plays and where I meet my friends.
It is also, and above all, a place where I find my equilibrium: I run. Preferably early in the morning. Running, marathons arrived and every time I run, concentration and focalization arrive. And decisions to be taken in equilibrium arrive, between company and employees, between company and customers, between needs and objectives, among people.
After all, there is the Team now. Forty people who make Revenue every day for 300 hotels. Forty stories that daily intertwine with 300 other stories. It is strange that it is me who says that: that’s enough talk about numbers for now. This is not the place for numbers. This is the place where a story is told. That of the Team, that of the hotels, that of Revenue, mine: the same story.
The first activities
The ’80s were frenetic, colorful, only apparently carefree and seminal because much of what is happening today has its roots exactly in that period. So, I could describe what that decade meant for me. I went from diploma to university; from the first time I found work in the hotel as a porter to the only time I worked as a body repairman, with my father; the military service made me into a teleprinter operator and it was exactly that qualification that gave me the opportunity to become a night porter in a hotel near the “Termini” train station.
I made a quality jump from the luggage of groups to the Reception of the best hotels in Rome, London and Paris; I rebounded from the kaleidoscopic euphoria of my wanderings around the world to the grim concern for a possible call-up during the Gulf War.
Those years went by quickly. That speed developed all around a fixed point for me which seemed like a cornerstone: England. There are occasions, places, days when events condense so much that they shorten the time of growth.
Working a year in London and at Claridge’s in London, laid the foundations for much of what would come next. First of all, because it urged me to learn English in the way that the English speak it. Second, because it instilled in me a method of reasoning and action that has brought me here where I am today. Without ever forgetting that it was in London and at Claridge’s that I met that boy from Montecatini with whom I left one evening with a McDonald’s sandwich in my hands and we are still traveling together with the Revenue Team.
Author of best sellers
Revenue manuals, not just for operators
Samuel Johnson, one of the most distinguished writers in British history, said that “What was written without passion will be read without pleasure”. Fortunately for me, that is true. The writer of books is different from the writer of diaries. I had the passion for writing and I still have it today. Telling about each trip is a need that I have always had; and that made me forget about my disgraphia. However, it was all very different when Dr. Giorgio Castoldi gave me one of the most important suggestions among those I have received during my professional life. He suggested that I should write a book on Revenue. And not just any book: that was a book to write with my passion and without a bibliography.
In 2006 my first book was published: Revenue Management for hotels published by Hoepli.
In fact, what Hoepli published in 2006 was the first handbook of Hotel Revenue Management. In its pages, I explain how to increase the profit of companies in the hotel sector. A real guide to identifying the right fare dynamics regarding the various market segments, the various periods and employment situations. The long time that has passed is a source of pride for me when I see that 12 years later, that book is still up-to-date and continues to remain high up on the list of the sales charts.
Francis Bacon, another Englishman quite entitled to express opinions on literature and similar topics, said: “Reading makes a full man, conference a ready man and writing an exact man.” The second book added another step on the road to scientificity.
In 2012 my second book was published
Six years later, my collaboration with Hoepli was renewed and my second volume, “Oltre Revenue Management Alberghiero” (“Beyond Hotel Revenue Management”), was published – how to seize the new opportunities provided by the Market. It is an in-depth extension of the first book which, by means of examples and quotes of real cases, dictates the rules of Revenue Management, the strategies to be followed to calculate the right price day by day, week by week, taking into account historical data, seasonality and every variable that could influence the choices that a tourist makes, obviously including the influence of weather conditions. If that of 2006 was my first book, that of 2012 represented the great satisfaction of officially entering “the university” of writing
My small regret is that it is not one of the Italian ones and that in order to recognize the fundamental teaching status of the Revenue, we had to go as far as Buenos Aires. The result obtained is the fruit of the great work done in Argentina. The book was translated into Spanish and used at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Quilmes.
I do not know who said it, but if it is true that “good things come in threes”, it is also true that I am writing my third book. It will close the trilogy and leave me the possibility to resume my writing about something else and in other ways.
Establishment of the “Franco Grasso” company
and the meetings with the first members of the team
And Revenue arrived.
And with Revenue, so much else came as well. Training, books, conferences, the first consultation and then all the others, the Revenue Team.
Exactly. The Revenue Team. The very first part of my life as a consultant was strongly connoted: Training.
I traveled around Italy (and most of the rest of the world), up and down many times to make the Revenue known. Talking in front of an audience has never seemed complicated to me, and in fact, the audiences of hoteliers and professionals were enthusiastic at every stopover. But it never came to more than that.
Those were immature years for concepts like the ones I was talking about: flexible prices, no price list, dynamic market. Fear beats the chance of growth 3-0. Only by insisting did I manage to get to Hotel Da Vinci, where the owner’s family believed in my ideas to such an extent that they gave me my first consultation. For the occasion, for the Hotel da Vinci, I needed to have someone at my side whom I could blindly, professionally, but even more, humanly trust.
So Franco Laico left his career as a hotel manager in Florence and decided to join mine. From that consultation, others have followed, many others. A thousand, to be honest. We would not be here to count them if only Franco and I had remained. We would not be here if we had not created a team. It all started with three guys, two of whom I had met, trained and left to acquire experience at a hotel, while the third one philosophized about cinema and humanity from inside a video library. I have always thought that motivation is an amplifier of skills and competences.
It is from this certainty that the original nucleus of the Revenue Team with Giorgio, Emiliano and Riccardo. . From the certainty that all three, who were so different, would be a solid base on which to continue to grow. The invisible work is often also the most educational, for individuals and for the whole team. It was easy for the subsequent additions to fit in with and get along with their commitment and dedication.
The numbers grew: those of hotel revenues, those of the people talking about it and those who called me. The number of hotels asking for consultation increased and, as a result, Diego, Emilia, Valentina, Ennio, Julian and Giovanni arrived. All together we celebrated in mid-2012 one of the fundamental stages of our story.
From the Chamber of Deputies to Rework
I spoke much more than I wrote, actually. Especially about Revenue. Training at all levels and at all latitudes; companies, schools, speeches and collaborations in the university field, masters at the “Luiss” and “Bocconi” universities and many other prestigious Italian universities. However, until I see Revenue Management become a real degree course, rather than an impromptu teaching module, I will not be satisfied. This is another of the goals that I intend to achieve during the course of my professional life. At the base, there is always an ethical reason: The demand for academic education on the subject has grown exponentially in recent years and the universities have a duty to respond appropriately by training young people who want to learn everything there is to know about Revenue Management.
I have spoken within the professional contexts of the sector, fairs, events, the BIT, the TTG and almost all the others. On each of these occasions, I brought the desire to speak to the minds and to men even before I brought it to students or hoteliers; I brought the sincere honesty of those who offer an opportunity for change and an awareness of the necessary efforts as much as the achievable results. On two of these occasions, I truly felt different. It was on the two occasions when Luciano Violante invited me to the Chamber of Deputies. The launch of the Tourism Report, “Italy Decides” was underway and I was called on by the government Institutions to express my ideas as a technical speaker. And I did it since I am the first to be convinced that our country should live (very well) only on tourism. Nothing will take away the certainty about how important it is to talk about Revenue and spread its culture. In every area.
Creation of the Revenue Academy
The gym for training on Revenue Management
Meanwhile, while we are waiting for the academic world to get moving.
Spread the knowledge about Revenue. Thousands of hours of training and active participation in the creation of highly specialized courses in hotel management, such as the Domina Hospitality School, show how even today it is one of the main objectives we pursue every day.
So, after having taught for years in schools, universities and business schools, after thousands of hours of training – done for the sole purpose of spreading the culture of Revenue, in 2015 the commitment in this sense became even more tangible thanks to the Revenue Academy.
We were constantly receiving requests and proposals on the subject of training, but the time had come to give substance to the image of a container of knowledge and skills all our own. It was time to establish a school that would teach only our Revenue Management, in all its possible aspects. So, together with Formazioneturismo.com, we created the Academy: innovative from the point of view of education and pioneering from an academic point of view.
A real campus, where the bond between teachers and learners is strengthened by the exchange of experiences and where first a human and then a professional relationship is created. Even in this case, almost without realizing it, time went by and the editions followed each other, each of which increased the number of people who took home a huge amount of experience in figures, analyses, strategies as well as a greater awareness. Even more so as it was time for the Academy to widen its horizons and start moving.
In fact, the Milan edition started in 2018; the projects involved a further expansion with new offices in other parts of Italy, a training platform to achieve the purpose of an International Revenue Academy.
Software for Revenue
From the evolution of revenue tools, the birth of Revolution Plus
There is a subtle but substantial difference between passive acceptance and a reasoned reaction. Nothing is science in tourism. Or at least not yet.
A period of rain or sun, a political or economic conjuncture, a fashion or a trend. These are all elements that can shuffle the cards, and some of these could succeed even without any warning. When I began to devote myself to aspects of prices, I set up my work on the basis of the awareness that it is necessary to be flexible. Starting from a database coming from the past and re-programming the future obliges us to evaluate the impact of variables and imponderable phenomena. A price must be worked out months in advance in order to be effective. Then it must be followed day after day to make sure that the plan proceeds towards the goal. Every day is a potential turning point, both positively and negatively.
This happens because every day is different from the others as much as every hotel is different from the others. For these reasons, I have always refused the idea that an automatic calculation can succeed in making a price. For these reasons, from the very beginning, I have always rejected proposals for collaboration aimed at creating pricing software.
For these reasons Revolution Pluswas created. The best definition of Revolution was given by Franco Laico: a teacher. It educates the mind, it forms the ability to reason that exists and that must be at the base of the price.
The project started with Stephen Cantini and continues today with the commitment of the brothers Paolo and Simone Sacchetti. The development and improvement of an instrument that, first of all, aims at being intelligent has been continuous throughout the years. It is intelligent but it does not aspire to replacing the human mind; its aim is supporting the human mind with the ability to store data, to summarize the indexes and to historicize the information, and these are the essential ingredients for the process of deciding on prices. A decision that with our Revenue will always be made by the Revenue Manager, the human being.
Enriched every day with new functions: but it will never ever set prices by itself!
Due to its design, a machine is not able to admit an error, while man, by nature, can learn from errors.
Our Revenue Management on the 5 continents
I love my Italy.
The concept of boundary has never impressed me. A boundary can seriously risk becoming a brake. To movement and to travel, to the ability to express oneself and to communicate, to strategies. I am in love with my Italy. And I’m also lucky to have had the chance to live in and see other places around the world. The experiences of Revenue during the years spent in Budapest, Liberia, Brazil and Mexico have confirmed what I have always thought: Revenue is a universal language. And exactly by traveling I discovered that the strategies of Revenue Management, as we have conceived them, do not exist in any other place. And that Italians are considered the best revenue managers in the world. Today we have official offices in Spain, Belgium, Latin America.
The next (short-term) goals are Asia, the continent on which we have already set foot, and Africa. It would be a limit to set boundaries.