Why the Hospitality Industry Needs to Reinvent Itself as a Glamorous Career Path
By Larry Mogelonsky President & Founder, LMA Communications | March 22, 2015
Even though it's been nearly a year since it first hit theatres, Wes Anderson's masterpiece "The Grand Budapest Hotel" still remains top of mind whenever a friend asks for a movie recommendation. It's funny, well-acted and beautifully shot, so what's not to love? But more than that, the film is a tribute to a bygone era of travel and 'Old World' hospitality when guests were eminently respected for their individual preferences and experienced managers were revered for their wisdom and commitment to their craft.
I compare an everyday walk through the lobby of a branded, four-star property with those fantastical shots of Anderson's titular hotel and my immediate thought is: we've lost something. Nowadays, we concern ourselves less with a sharp focus on developing strong person-to-person relationships and more with the multitude of number crunching tasks designed to squeeze as much profit out of our ever-dwindling margins. Yes, we should worry about our margins and cash flow, but there comes a point where we will lose sight of what made us 'grand' in the first place.
That grandeur comes many facets – a bustling spectacle of a lobby floor, opulent rooms with the utmost attention to detail, lavish amenities, exceptional food service, immaculate housekeeping and, above all, a team that cares. If each and every staff member loves his or her job, then all the other 'material' tasks will magically be completed faster and more effectively, whether it's ensuring that a room is spotless before a guest's arrival or filling up the bar on a week night to create a more social environment. It all boils down to hiring the right people and motivating them for consummate perfection.
Alas, it's never that simple. I've spoken with numerous managers and owners over the years, and a common quality that they all possess is a high degree of scrutiny when hiring. Most senior-level employees in hospitality understand that this is a 'people industry' and that recruiting individuals with the right gung-ho attitude is essential for pleasant guest-staff relationships and ensuring healthy company morale.
But what happens when the best and brightest of our draft picks never even consider the hotel industry as their chosen profession? Service today is very casual in its presentation. My fear is that our craft has relinquished its classical allure, and therefore will fail to attract the brainy kids necessary to secure the next generation of internal entrepreneurship.
The Brain Drain
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