How Large Hotel Brands Can Overcome Recruiting Challenges

By Zoe Connolly Co-Founder & Managing Director, Hospitality Spotlight | June 10, 2018

While it may seem counterintuitive, many of the largest hotel brands suffer the biggest struggles when it comes to recruiting top-tier talent. The strongest candidates often believe that they'll be able to make a bigger impact, or earn promotions, more quickly at smaller and regional properties. Many candidates also believe that working at a major chain will require them to lose many of their personality traits.

While many of these issues are myths, many chains must overcome a number of concerns, ranging from reputation to upward mobility, in order to attract the types of candidates they desire. Below are four challenges large hotels must overcome, along with tips that can help them be more successful.

Reputation Management

As with most things today, candidates tend to start their search for new opportunity online, often visiting a variety of websites and resources that help them gain an understanding of what working at a property will be like. For large hotels, those with a robust online presence (both owned and consumer generated), it can be difficult to gain any sort of control over what a candidate finds in their search. Sites like Glassdoor can be incredibly valuable for job seekers, but may do a poor job of highlighting the work environment at a particular property, vs what life at the corporate headquarters might be. This can create unrealistic expectations, in terms of salary, benefits, and even overall impression.

Furthermore, candidates who find a number of negative reviews about a property may end up having second thoughts about applying. Sites like RipOffReport have gained tremendous traffic; a strong candidate that searches for a hotel and finds complaints there may be less inclined to apply.

In the interview process, many of these issues can be overcome. Perhaps the guest who complained on a forum really was in the wrong. Or maybe there has been a change in management. Interviewers should keep a running cheat sheet of talking points to address anything negative a candidate may find online, either about the property specifically or the overall corporate reputation. For concerns about an individual property, the local manager will have a good idea of what's happened and how it has been addressed. They may also have insight that isn't public; perhaps the property won some sort of internal recognition for customer service or top billing in a region. This information can be used to quickly ease concerns for a candidate. On the corporate side, however, it may be tough for a local manager to be aware of all that's happening. In this instance, he or she can incorporate various corporate social responsibility initiatives that highlight the organization as a good corporate citizen. They can also consider any awards that the corporate brands have won.

Getting strong candidates to the interview process, however, can be a bit trickier. Every major chain has their own approach to dealing with reputational concerns. Some have chosen to address all issues, some have guidelines on what they will or won't address. In the instance where a local property has been singled out, it's important for the local team to have an understanding of what happened but also how it's being addressed. In fact, it's a best practice for major chains to connect with property managers when negative feedback has been posted online. This gives the team handling social media and online feedback both sides of the story.

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Coming up in April 2019...

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.