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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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.