The hospitality industry has always struggled with hiring. Either you don’t get trained people or they don’t stay beyond a short time. This phenomenon has only got accelerated during the last two years where we have gone through the pandemic and with as the younger work force joining the industry dynamics need a change.
There is a huge demand for manpower in the industry with the reopening of businesses and moving towards the pre covid levels but what has happened in reality is that the hotel people have moved to other sectors such as retail and organizations that are engaged in customer care services.
Employees are an organisation’s greatest assets that give it the competitive advantage. So it becomes extremely important to attract and retain the best as there is a war for talent today. Industry needs to be more nurturing; it cannot work the way it did two decades ago. Everything around us has undergone transformation what are we waiting for?
There have been debates on the industry academia divide for years, it is high time we all come together and realign the way the industry functions. Today a student has a choice while selecting the hospitality college amongst many government as well as private ones and then choice again to join the hotel. In fact they have a choice to move to other sectors such as retail, real estate, health care, travel and many more. The industry cannot afford to lose hotel management graduates to other sectors. Of course students can move to the industry of their choice and develop great careers but hotels too should get their share of trained manpower.
There is a need for some fundamental transitions such as giving students a good exposure when they come to the hotel for internship. They are the customers for us really as they are forming an opinion about us and based on that experience they will decide whether to join the hotels upon graduation or move to other sectors. I have also seen some students in the past who left the course soon after internship. Hotels focus so much on creating positive guest experiences the trainees who go to them for internship need that handholding and mentorship too. I am not emphasizing on the fact that we keep them away from reality but helping them adapt and being a part of their learning by imparting right knowledge, skill and attitudinal dimensions will do good not only to them but the industry will get the people with the right attitude. It is not just like that we say ‘the hospitality attitude’.
In the last two years quite a few jobs were lost and there were many hotel management graduates waiting to be employed. Some hotels took them as On The Job trainees (OJT) rather than recruiting them as employees. This may have been a short arrangement but it is completely unfair. After almost 6 months of reopening in full capacity hotels need trained manpower. Many hotel management graduates have transitioned to other industries or are pursuing higher education. We must understand what we plant we get to harvest the fruit of it. If hotels need well trained manpower they also need to contribute in the process of getting them industry ready.
Large hotel companies need to stop looking only for graduates from fancy hotel schools who anyway have the competitive edge but they must focus on diversity in terms of gender, geographical location, age etc. thus creating a sustainable model. Better career and succession planning with an emphasis on work life balance is a winner all the way.
Learning and development function will a have a very important role to play along with the Human Resources department. Some organisations have started calling it the People and Culture department, we need to live and deliver in the true sense of it.
I wish to highlight a recent stay of mine at a timeshare property that made me experience the important aspects of hospitality industry that I tell my students and trainees. Hospitality is a mindset; attitude being utmost important and that knowledge as well as skills can be developed in a conducive environment.
We have always had great holidays staying at Club Mahindra. All their properties are unique, very well appointed and in a breathtaking locations. We are members since 2009 so have got the opportunity to stay at many of their properties. Compliments to Mr. Mahindra for making Indians vacation well.
This time our visit had a purpose and that was to celebrate my parent’s golden anniversary. We booked at Club Mahindra Tungi, drove from our home at Navi Mumbai to the beautiful destination overlooking the Pavna lake. The drive was good, giving us the experience of off roading on our Scorpio which kids and parents enjoyed.
We were welcomed by the very hospitable and enthusiastic staff. It was great meeting Mr. Gaurav Upadhyay and Mr. Obuliperumal the Front Office and Housekeeping heads of departments. They and their teams ensured that we had a comfortable and enjoyable stay. We had 3 days in hand so used all facilities of the well appointed resort, breathing in the clean air and enjoying the scenic beauty. The food was equally good Chef Santosh Singh and his team deserves all the appreciation. While in the restaurant we could see the place buzzing with people and there were others waiting for their tables. Saw even the Food and Beverage manager himself attending to the guests; which is a great service attitude. I being a hotelier and a trainer myself do understand the role of learning and development, my compliments to Mr. Prakash Aranha for doing a good job with his team.
My parents didn’t have any pictures of their wedding so wanted to recreate some of those moments for them. Shared my plans with the Housekeeping team and they helped in whatever way they could. We had a great celebration and a family get together of sorts with my brother joining just in time coming all the way from Dubai. We had a great celebratory dinner with some of the delicacies coming out from the chef’s expert hands. We enjoyed it thoroughly.
Parents had a great time which to me is priceless! I thank the entire team of Club Mahindra Tungi for creating this delightful experience for us.
This experience highlights all the qualities that the employees should have to deliver exceptional service. All hotels work to create magical moments for their guests and the ground work for that starts with creating the hospitality mindset amongst the staff and that comes with valuing them as assets. Like all assets they need to be developed and taken care of.
PS: This article was first published in ET Hospitality world, June 2022. Picture is taken from Google with due credits.