Bringing Back the Focus on People
The Time Has Come to Embrace the Long-Needed Change
The hospitality industry is talking about a lot of different recovery strategies over the past 18 months in order to rise out of the ashes of the pandemic and experts of various fields from sales and revenue, marketing to operations are all showcasing great creativity and resilience in doing so. However, there is one common challenge that we all need to collaborate on together, and is missing by focusing on a single department or segment of our business, that is the PEOPLE.
People who can successfully execute on the well-thought-out initiatives or smoothly implement new business procedures, and the customers, whose behaviour changed as a result of COVID-19 and their new needs and expectations shall reflect in any strategy moving forward. Consumers are demanding their money has more value than before.
For someone who spent 20 years in hospitality out of pure passion, it is sad to see how many of our former peers decided to leave the industry for good with all their valuable experience and skill set. There are simply not enough people. In many areas globally, hotels and restaurants have reopened but with limited service or offering.
Most alarming is that according to surveys and statistics from all corners of the world, more than a third of hospitality professionals are not considering returning to their jobs and the industry, mainly due to working conditions. The rate of pay, workload, lack of work-life balance and feeling unappreciated are some of the main factors for their decision.
Many hospitality workers feel they were often viewed as a number. Those who were loyal to a company and have given much of their lives to, were often neglected or let go with ease. Management companies, chains have all contributed to turning an industry that is about caring for others, into a heartless machine only focusing on the bottom line. The industry stopped investing in People, some companies even eliminated training and continued to ask more and more from their employees.
Now the industry is desperately looking for talent. Overall, we have big a problem and we are observing a major turning point - a shift in the way we operate our business to survive and eventually strive again.
The time has come to embrace the long-needed change:
Leaders would need to restructure programs that are highly efficient and take a lot less people to execute. Some of the solutions can be found in technology which can help with automating admin tasks or workflows, and allow people to provide the basis of our business, customer service.
The industry needs to rethink the entire physical hotel structure and redesign it by incorporating more of a community aspect that drives guest engagement.
And the key piece to the puzzle is raising up a new generation of hospitality professionals and investing in people. Therefore, the change would also have to take place in colleges and universities to provide a more intensive and efficient education program for hospitality professionals.
Employers also need to encourage retention through professional development programs and positive workplace culture. With 45% of the hospitality workforce coming from under age 29 compared with 18% in other sectors, the industry will have to be inventive with its sources and perhaps look for alternative sources of labour, such as retirees.
All in all, the hospitality and travel industry needs to change starting from its core foundations. Then it can maintain sustainability by pushing forward with continued creativity and development while remembering Conrad Hilton's vision: "Fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality."
RevenueHacks in association with RaizUp, a professional career development platform backed by a global community of hospitality, travel and technology professionals, is facilitating a live event with an expert panel discussing the above topics in detail on Wednesday 3rd November, at the Clermont Victoria, London. If you are interested in participating in the debate and learning more, please follow this link to register.