How Recruiting High Performing Talent in the Hospitality Business Has Changed

By Suzanne McIntosh President, McIntosh Human Capital Management | March 02, 2014

Remember when you went to the “Personnel” office to interview or make a change to your benefits? Now you go to “Human Resources”. Did you enter at the “Employee” entrance whereas now you go to the “Team”…“Talent” or “Cast” entrance? More than just the signs on the door have changed. The level of respect, focus, importance and sophistication of the “HR” function has morphed particularly in our industry that is hospitality.

Marshall Alan has been recruiting high performing hospitality executives for over thirty years. For this article, we have invited some of our luxury and lifestyle clients to contribute on how as Corporate Human Resource Vice Presidents or Directors, their functions have changed as a result of technology, generational attributes, competition to attract the best of the best from the diminishing talent pool.

Technology has brought many positive enhancements (and some negatives), to the Human Resources function. At Marshall Alan we know it is important to quickly source excellent talent, efficiently search for the attributes we know our clients are seeking and stay close to our vast network of industry contacts.

The MAA recruitment veterans have embraced technology with cutting edge database management and use of social media tools such as Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter. We agree with our contributors however that nothing replaces the personal interview, the Skype call to an overseas candidate and the client office visit to understand the needs of the organization.

Debbie Croce, Director of Human Resources at the Ritz Carlton Central Park has seen a significant streamlining of the application process. An applicant can now post a resume on line. A third party recruiter then screens applicants against job qualifications. Appropriate applicants are flagged and sent to the Human Resources office. Background checks and other paperwork are all done via computer. All benefit plans are now done online which eliminates the need for a Benefits Administrator.

What are the potential downfalls? Some great applicants may be eliminated by mistake…and Debbie does sometimes miss the personal touch. Of course, computers will never replace coaching, counseling and discipline which is always done in person. Another positive that technology brings to the recruitment process? Debbie uses Skype video calls (as we do at MAA), to interview out of town applicants, lessening the “fly in” costs and providing a more personal introduction than a voice phone interview.

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Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.