Hotel Executives at Sea: How they get Top Ratings

By Joyce Gioia CEO, Employer of Choice International, Inc. | December 04, 2011

If you think being the General Manager of a hotel on land is challenging, imagine being a GM on a cruise ship where you are "on duty" almost 24/7, where your crew of thousands to take care of hundreds, sometimes over a thousand guests, is composed of mostly young people from all over the world---who also work long hours. Not only that, but your Gen-Yers speak several different languages and worship in a handful of faiths!

And on top of all that, your guest population is very demanding and highly discriminating. That's just what these brave executives are up against every day. Plus as if all these factors were not stacked against them enough, many receive bonuses based on the additional revenues generated in the bars, optional dining restaurants, and casinos onboard. They are on these floating hotels for several months at a time and rarely take breaks. How do they manage to keep both guests and team members happy, and keep their eyes on the goal of profitability? It's simple. They engage their employees on many levels and in many ways. This article shares with you those very effective best practices.

They Stack the Deck with an Effective Onboarding Program

Most cruise lines take great pains to hire only people who have the temperament and attitude to succeed in jobs at sea. They screen carefully for job fit, learning agility , and desire to succeed. This screening is vital to insuring that the rest of their investments in training and development are not in vain. Cruise lines also have to make sure they are not hiring any ticking time bombs.

A Great Start

Training is extensive. Holland America has training facilitates in Bangkok, Thailand and Manila, Philippines, while Cunard has its training facility in Kuala Lumpur. These cruise lines hire mostly from Southeast Asia, while other cruise lines hire from other parts of the world. They spend months training the young people to be stewards and kitchen assistants. It is critical for the companies to do this continuous training, because they only keep their team members for nine or ten months and they need high levels of productivity and efficiency to operate optimally.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.