Opinion

Attracting new hospitality talent

From discovering untapped segments to engaging existing employees, we hear from Fran Brasseux, President of the Foundation of Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International on how hoteliers can tackle staff shortages

President of the Foundation of Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International

The global hospitality and tourism industry is currently affected by staff shortages. A lot of hotel giants are talking about opening thousands of new hotels in the next few years, while the unemployment rate in the US is the lowest it’s ever been. Supply growth and record-low unemployment is driving a very challenging effort to find the right people with the right skills to fill the void. 

The HSMAI Foundation’s new mission on talent and leadership development is focused on attracting new people to sales, marketing and revenue optimisation in an industry that doesn’t always appear how it is – diverse, exciting, and with great growth opportunities globally.

Changes in technology, as well as nine years of consecutive year-on-year growth in hotels, have also driven a real need for new expertise. And since rapid innovation in the technology space is expected to continue driving change, it’s going to be increasingly important to hire employees from a range of segments that have varying skill sets. If you look back 10 years ago, for example, there wasn’t much happening with social media. Now, so much of what we do is driven by it, creating a need for new skills. As a result, we’ve got to be more receptive to new ideas and the ability to take more risks.

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Photo: credit to Chuttersnap, Unsplash

Thinking beyond the traditional recruiting process is one way to combat the current challenges. At the HSMAI Foundation, we’ve identified a new talent area that we’re working with - military spouses. We’ve partnered with the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Hiring our Heroes, to look at what we can do to open a pipeline for talent in this segment. But first, it’s important to change the way we think about hiring from that segment.

There are currently over a million military spouses in the US - 85% want or need a job and one in four can’t find employment. Additionally, 49% of them have college or higher education. Having handled moves, deployments, and other unique challenges frequently on their own, military spouses are excellent leaders, problem solvers, and project managers and are very adaptable to change - which are qualities often needed to succeed in hospitality careers. There’s a lot of untapped potential there.

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We also want to create more experiential opportunities within the industry so that potential employees can experience hospitality as a profession before finding their ideal career path. Right now, our leader on that is Accor Hotels. Working with the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the initiative we’re implementing will provide an opportunity for selected military spouses to spend six-weeks in a paid learning programme with leading hotel brands. By giving them hospitality experience, through either a fellowship or other opportunities, it allows them to discover if they connect with the industry and to understand if it feels like a career opportunity they would like to pursue.

Beyond fellowships, our goal is to help connect interested military spouses with career opportunities and open positions in hospitality. We have engaged an amazing military spouse, Tessa Robinson, as our new military spouse liaison, to help us tell our stories - both the experience of those already working in hospitality and the progress in fellowships and employment.

In addition to the challenge of attracting new talent, we’re also addressing staff development and retention. At the HSMAI Foundation, we’re attracting new talent, developing emerging talent and engaging existing talent. These are the three levels we want to focus on during the next three to five years. Starting with attracting and developing talent in sales, marketing and revenue optimisation, we, as an industry, need to ensure we have the right incentive plans, initiatives, and trainings in place to ensure top-line growth across the industry.

Hero image: credit to Stokpic, Pexels

Topics
Takeaway
  • Changes in technology, as well as nine years of consecutive year-on-year growth in hotels, have driven a real need for new expertise
  • The global hospitality tourism industry is currently affected by staff shortages. Supply growth and record-low unemployment are driving a challenging effort to find the right people with the right skills
  • Thinking beyond the traditional recruiting process is one way to combat the current challenges. The HSMAI Foundation has identified a new talent area that they’re working with - military spouses

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