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 February 2019...

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.