Effective Methods in Attracting and Retaining Superior Team Members

By Richard Takach, Jr. President & CEO, Vesta Hospitality | November 10, 2013

Our industry is seemingly dominated by technology, when we consider everything from computer-controlled building security and HVAC to automated payroll and accounting systems, Wi-Fi networks and online reservations. However, it only takes one guest in the lobby complaining about an unmade room or a discourteous team member to remind us that we are, first and foremost, a people business.

Without a doubt, the people that we recruit, train and form into what we expect to be an energetic, responsive, talented and mutually supportive team are a key element in our overall revenues, profitability and return on investment. The best location, world-class architecture, luxurious amenities and a shrewd financing structure are, alone, not enough to insure success. As operators and investors we must understand that we rely on our people, who are responsible, empowered and challenged to exceed guest expectations.

Furthermore, whatever the level of responsibility, skill set or compensation, whether we are talking about the CEO or head of housekeeping, each person involved in the organization must be considered as part of a team. This demands a commitment by leadership to a team concept; that the best return on investment is achieved through acquiring the best associates and maximizing their performance.

In this article, we will consider methods and strategies in recruiting, training, motivating and, hopefully, retaining the best possible team members throughout the many functional groups of any hospitality organization.

Selecting the right people. Finding people is not the same thing as selecting people. Moreover, selecting the right individual for any position in an organization starts with a clear delineation of the skills, experience and attitude demanded of that position.

Similarly, these are not simply job descriptions, but assessments of future responsibilities and accomplishments; organizational prescriptions, as it were. This exercise is the responsibility of leadership and will be based on the input of top management and the human resources department. It may be valuable to develop formal metrics intended to predict how applicants will fulfill these requirements.

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Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.