DBA3712 / DSC3224 Dynamic Pricing & Revenue Management

Module: DBA3712 / DSC3224 Dynamic Pricing & Revenue Management

Semester taken: AY 2021/22 Semester 1

Lecturer: No lecturer, module is sectional-based

Tutor: Prof Sheryl Elaine Kimes

Textbook: None

What it is about

This module introduces students to the concept of revenue management and the techniques used in managing prices. Building on the concept of price discrimination, this module will explore how different industries, such as hospitality, food & beverage and car rental, adopt revenue management practices to maximise profits.

Assessment components

  • Case analyses/homework: 25%

  • Quizzes: 15%

  • Final group project: 30%

  • Interim projects: 20%

  • Participation: 10%


I took this module purely out of interest, as the other Operations and Supply Chain Management modules available are mostly fluff-based and I wanted to learn something more mathematical. This module has always been taught by Prof Kimes, who is world renowned as one of the thought leaders in the revenue management space. I was quite impressed with her credentials and thus decided to take a class taught by her.

The content of this module is rather interesting, as Prof Kimes often used real-life examples on how revenue management is applied in the outside world. It is also easily relatable, as revenue management is used by hotels and some restaurants, and it is likely that you have been subject to some form of revenue management in the past. There is some mathematics involved, by they are mostly confined to using Microsoft Excel to perform certain calculations using specific formulas that are not too complicated.

However, while the module content is interesting, I have had a rather bad experience in the module. Some of the mathematical concepts (like the newsvendor model) were taught in a way that "you have to accept it", and the focus was more on how to calculate something in a certain way using Microsoft Excel. I felt that the module lacked the rigour on why certain formulas are used, and how those formulas were derived. In addition, the grading rubrics were opaque, especially with the group projects, which makes this module extremely difficult to score well in.

If you are more mathematically inclined, I recommend taking the equivalent of this module under the Department of Industrial Systems Engineering and Management (ISE), which is IE4214. However, the pre-requisites of the module requires DBA3711, which is notoriously difficult, but I feel that it is more worth it. Otherwise, you can take this module and risk getting a bad grade without knowing why.


There is a 3-hour sectional session every week, and each session starts with a simple quiz on the topic for the day. There is usually an assigned reading, and some lecture videos to watch before the lesson. The videos mainly focus on using Microsoft Excel to perform calculations related to that week's topic, whereas the reading is usually about how the week's topic is relevant in the industry.

During the session, Prof Kimes will go through the content in the lecture using the slides and some videos. Sometimes, there will be a quick recap on the Excel skills taught, while other times we will be broken into breakout rooms with our own group members, and will get together to work on an assigned task. For the assigned tasks, Prof Kimes will randomly pick a group or two to present to the rest of the class.

There will also be "scheduled experts" and "surprise guests" for every class. You will be required to sign up to be a "scheduled expert" for one of the lessons, and there is usually about 6 people per lesson. During the lesson, Prof Kimes will regularly call upon the "scheduled experts" to answer questions, and this will form a major part of your participation grade for the semester. There are also "surprise guests", and it is just a fancy term for Prof Kimes to randomly call upon someone to answer the question, if she decides not to call upon any of the "scheduled experts".

Somewhere in Week 9 of the semester, there will be a Revenue Management Roundtable. This is a session where industry guests are invited to join the class and share their knowledge about revenue management in the corporate world. Each group will be able to interact with about 6 of these guests, and will have the opportunity to ask questions. The details of the event were also posted onto a blog.

Finally, there were 2 homework assignments given during the semester, and they are rather simple questions that tests you on some of the knowledge learnt during class. Almost everyone gets full credit for this component, so be sure to double-check your answers before you submit!

Group Project

Throughout the semester, there is one group project which is broken down into 3 parts, each of which are to be submitted at various points in the semester. The eventual goal of the project is to create a revenue management system that a hotel can use to maximise its own revenue. This system is done using Microsoft Excel and there are some parts that require VBA knowledge to accomplish.

For each part of the project, the group is required to submit an Excel file and a PowerPoint presentation that answers a given set of questions related to the project. The presentation is made in a way that it is presented to the group's manager, who is supposedly "not particularly analytical". Unfortunately, it is the way that our group understood this statement that cost us our grades. We tried to keep the presentation simple and easy to understand, but were told to provide more explanations. We then tried to explain more in the second part while avoiding jargons, but were told to simplify it. It just goes to show how arbitrary the grading rubrics were.

For the final part, you are required to come up with a functional revenue management system, along with a video showcasing its capabilities. The video is aimed to sell the system, but Prof Kimes prefers a skit in the beginning, before going on to showcase the different features of the system.

Each group has about 6 to 7 members, and I was extremely lucky to have amazing teammates who were able to pull each of their own weight in the project. We put in a lot of effort in our work, but it was unfortunate that Prof Kimes did not agree. The deadlines were unreasonable as well, especially for the final part of the project where we had to come up with a whole system while filming a video presentation, and I probably would not have survived without my group.

Other information

Assignment workload: Light. There are only 2 homework assignments.

Project workload: Heavy. The semester-long project can get quite intensive at times.

Readings: Light. There is a reading and some videos to watch before each lesson.

Recommended if: You want to learn revenue management techniques without going too technical, and if you are okay with potentially unfair grading. For something more technical, take IE4214.

Rating: 2.0/5. Module content is okay but the professor is not.

Expected grade: B+

Actual grade: B (*rolls eyes*)

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