Mastering the Art of Building an “A” Team

By Tom Conran Principal, Greenwood Hospitality Group | March 23, 2014

Recent financial and industry-specific performance indicators, as well as general economic forecasts, suggest that 2014 will sustain positive trends in overall performance. During the improvement cycle, hotel owners and managers alike have been in an enviable position. Net profits have increased substantially to support capital improvements and much needed property upgrades. However, no matter the increased thread count of linens or a savvy design scheme, the delivery of service remains the cornerstone of a positive hospitality experience. This experience must be embedded in the culture of the hotel and the team members who live it. The building of the "A" team is an art and, when executed well, will pay significant dividends in gaining and retaining valued customers. In this article, we will discuss strategies and programs to accomplish this core responsibility of hotel executives.

Attracting the "A" Team

Fundamental to selecting quality team members is understanding, at all skill levels, the prevailing local marketplace for labor. Market surveys will reveal what the hospitality industry in general is paying for comparable positions. We must remember however that we are also competing with other local employers for skilled people. They might be local restaurants or retail stores, corporate offices or sales and service organizations and as such, our market survey should include them.

Avoid being penny wise and pound-foolish. Paying slightly more than the market rate to attract quality candidates can pay dividends in hotel performance, reputation and profitability. At the managerial level, it is beneficial to provide a summary of incentive programs that are in place, about which candidates are informed before selection. This can be an important point of difference in the recruitment process.

There are many ways in which to advertise for positions. Certainly, digital and social media are increasingly important tools. Hotel entities should use their organization's home web site and individual property web sites as recruiting agents, to include distinct Job Opportunity tabs and postings. These posting must be accurate, current and follow all applicable employment laws.

We must also occupy the social space and be conversant in appropriate portals, to include Linked In, Facebook and Twitter. Our own web sites and Facebook pages must reinforce our culture proposition and what we represent.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.