Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Birmele

Henri Birmele

Managing Director, Hotel Shangrila Santa Monica

Henri Birmele, Managing Director, Hotel Shangrila, Santa Monica, CA has more than 25 years experience in every aspect of the hospitality industry. During his long career, he has worked in a variety of key positions all the while growing his knowledge and skills. He has moved through such assignments as a Director of Operations, Director of Food and Beverage, Hotel Manager, Vice President of Hospitality, General Manager to his current position as Managing Director. Before coming to Hotel Shangrila in 2010, Mr. Birmele's high profile career included executive positions at Shutters on the Beach, Santa Monica, CA.; Sheraton Universal, Universal City, CA.; Viceroy Hotel, Santa Monica, CA.; St. Regis, Washington, DC and Los Angeles, CA; and Turnberry Isle Resort and Spa, Miami, Fl. 
 A graduate of the prestigious Hotel School Lausanne in Switzerland, Mr. Birmele also has a degree in Global Business from the Benedict Business School in Zurich. During his career, he has had oversight for opening three new hotel properties as well as three hotel renovations. In his executive roles and within the industry, he is known for his project planning and management skills; human resources, team-building, staff retention and motivational skills; and cost cutting and profit building initiatives. A visible, hands-on manager, he is a staunch advocate for building strong relationships with all key constituent groups—everyone from guests, staff, owners/partners to community leaders, civic officials and vendors. His real-world approach to problem solving and his wealth of experience has allowed him to meet the challenges in the fast-paced and ever-changing hotel and hospitality industry.

Mr. Birmele can be contacted at 310-394-2791 or henri@shangrila-hotel.com

Coming up in March 2020...

Human Resources: Confronting a Labor Shortage

With the unemployment rate at its lowest level in decades (3.7%), what has always been a perennial problem for human resource professionals - labor shortage - is now reaching acute levels of concern. It is getting harder to find and recruit qualified applicants. Even finding candidates with the skills to succeed in entry-level positions has become an issue. In addition, employee turnover rates remain extremely high in the hotel industry. As a result of these problems, hotel HR managers are having to rethink their recruitment strategies in order to hire the right talent for the right job. First, hotels have been forced to raise their wages and offer other appealing perks, as a way to attract qualified candidates. Secondly, HR managers are reassessing their interviewing techniques, focusing less on the answers they receive to questions and more on observable behavior. Part of this process includes role-playing during the interview, so that the recruiter can gauge how a candidate works through specific problems and interacts with other team members. Additionally, some HR managers are also creating internal talent pools as a way to address labor shortages. Instead of utilizing department resources to find new hires with specific skills for needed positions, hotels are cultivating talent pools internally and preparing their employees to assume leadership roles whenever the time comes. They are also placing greater emphasis on a company culture that is more performance-based, as a way to curb employee turnover, increase employee satisfaction, and assure higher levels of customer service. Finally, recognizing the importance of employee retention as a way to lessen the impact of a tight labor market, some HR managers are instituting generous reward programs in order to retain their top performers. The March Hotel Business Review will explore what some HR professionals are doing to address these and other issues in their departments.