Are you Ready to Face the HR Challenges Created by Web2.0?

By Linchi Kwok Assistant Professor of Hospitality Management, Syracuse University | March 18, 2012

By now, almost every hotelier understands how importance social media and the Web 2.0 technology mean to operations. If used appropriately, social media can help business in many ways, such as increasing awareness, sharing information, forming customer opinions and attitudes, making purchasing decision, and evaluating their post-purchasing experience. As a matter of fact, social media ( e.g. travel review websites ) has become the essential mechanism for travelers when they plan a trip or make a hotel reservation. Travelers may actually trust the comments posted by other consumers on social media websites more than the reviews published on travel agent websites. In responding to the new dynamics of consumer behaviors, many hotels have already integrated social media in their strategic plans, especially in the areas of sales/marketing and communication.

In HR, social media has also been widely used in talent requisitions. The impact of social media on hotel HR, however, might have been more significant than anticipated. The following discussion presents some opportunities and challenges created by the Web 2.0 technology to HR, including job analysis and job design, recruitment and selection, training and development, compensation plans, performance appraisals, discipline and retention management, social responsibility, and ethics. It is hoped that this paper will open up a forum where hotel executives and scholars can share their experience and best practices of coping with the HR issues created by Web 2.0.

Job Analysis and Job Design

Job analysis is the process of determining what needs to be done according to a hotel’s strategic objectives, one of which is to meet the expectations and needs of hotel customers. Challenges can emerge when travelers become more tech-savvy: they often compare prices on the internet and make reservations online or with their smartphones; they expect hotels to assist them if they experience some technique issues with their gadgets during their stays; and they will very likely share their hotel experience on social networking sites at any time. Facing such changes, HR needs to conduct a job analysis to determine whether the hotel has the manpower and equipment to accommodate guests’ needs. Ultimately, HR needs to address the following questions: what responsibilities should be added to or deleted from current positions? What position( s ) or department( s ) needs to be created or eliminated? Is the current organizational structure efficient and effective? If a social media manager is needed, what is his/her job involved? Is it better to place a social media manager in the corporate level or in the property level? To whom should a social media manager report to? And, how soon can the proposed changes take place?

There are hotels and restaurants that have made changes because of social media. Renaissance Hotels & Resorts, for example, introduced a new position called “Navigator” to replace the traditional Concierge a year ago. The Navigator can perform tasks as a concierge, a Front Desk agent, or a restaurant manager. In addition to the newly created position, Renaissance also launched the Navigator app for mobile devices. CNN News reported earlier this year that there are about 300 restaurants in the U.S. that have already adopted the menu-tablet service, where consumers can play games, view pictures of the menu, order meals, and make a payment directly on a tablet device. The role of servers in these restaurants is very different from the one in a more traditional setting. Hotel HR may need to review the job responsibilities of different positions and re-structure the hotel’s organization.

Recruitment and Selection

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Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.