Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Rifai

Taleb Rifai

Secretary General, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

Taleb Rifai's background combines solid political experience and technical knowledge in the field of tourism, as well as experience in the work and functioning of International Organizations. His background also provides him with extensive economic, business and academic experience. He was elected as Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) at the General Assembly, Astana, Kazakhstan, in October 2009 and begun his four-year term on 1 January 2010. He assumed the functions of Secretary-General ad interim of the World Tourism Organization from 1 March 2009 and served as Deputy Secretary-General from February 2006 to February 2009. Prior to assuming his current post, Taleb Rifai was the Assistant Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO) for three consecutive years. His responsibilities included the overall supervision and implementation of the International Labour Standards, as well as advising on labour markets and employment policies, particularly in the Middle East region. From 1999 to 2003, he served in several ministerial portfolios in the Government of Jordan, first, as Minister of Planning and International Cooperation in charge of Jordan's Development Agenda and bilateral and multilateral relationships with donors and agencies. He was subsequently appointed Minister of Information, in which capacity he was spokesman of the Government of Jordan and in charge of communication and public media. During his tenure, he embarked on restructuring public media and in particular the Jordan Television Network. In 2001, his portfolio was expanded to include the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquity. During his term as Minister of Tourism and Antiquity, Taleb Rifai established Jordan's first Archaeological Park in the ancient city of Petra in collaboration with UNESCO and the World Bank. He also realized several large projects in Jerash, the Dead Sea and Wadi Rum. As Minister of Tourism, he was the Chairman of the Jordan Tourism Board, President of the Ammon School for Tourism and Hospitality and was elected Chairman of the Executive Council of the UNWTO in 2001. In the three years preceding his service in the Jordanian Cabinet, he was appointed the CEO of Jordan's Cement Company, one of the country's largest public shareholding companies with over 4,000 employees. During his term he successfully led and directed the first large-scale privatization and restructuring scheme in Jordan by bringing in the world famous French cement company Lafarge in 1998 and continued to serve as CEO under the new Lafarge management.

Mr. Rifai can be contacted at 34-91-5679-324 or trafai@unwto.org

Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.