The Baby Boomer Effect: Succession Plans Are Growing in Popularity

By Bruce Fears President, ARAMARK Harrison Lodging | October 28, 2008

With the first of America's 78 million Baby Boomers turning 60 this year, the hospitality industry is bracing themselves for the onslaught of active senior travelers, as well as a plethora of executive positions to fill, both in the hotel business, as well as in corporate America in general.

In fact, nearly 8,000 boomers are turning 60 on a daily basis, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics. What needs to take place to ensure the successful transition of our retiring Boomers and the next working generation is education. Education comes in multiple forms whether its continuing education, succession planning and training or development of formalized mentorship programs.

Hotel Executive Positions on the Rise

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a labor force of 162.3 million individuals in 2012 and expects that the economy will require 165.3 million jobs to be filled. This does not mean that there will be a shortage of three million hotel executives in 2012 due to the retirement of Baby Boomers; however, it does mean the industry will soon see an increased need for corporations to schedule on-going training and education programs in order to replace the retiring boomer generation.

Not just Hotel Executive Positions...Corporate Training Sessions on the Rise

The hospitality industry isn't the only business that will be affected by the aging Boomer generation. The U.S. workforce in general will need to create contingency plans for their retiring workforce.

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. 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.