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 June 2019...

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.