The hospitality industry is facing a talent crisis putting at risk the growth of one of hospitality, the world’s biggest industries that represents over 300 million employees or 10% of Global GDP.

In this fourth of the series on the talent crisis in hospitality, we will take a closer look at how the proposed change initiative can address the root causes of the talent disruption.

“We will hire someone with less experience, less education, and less expertise, than someone who has more of those things and has a rotten attitude. Because we can train people. We can teach people how to lead. We can teach people how to provide customer service. But we can’t change their DNA.”

-Herb Kelleher, Founder, Southwest Airlines 

Invest in New Learning Platforms to Transition People and Grow the Talent Pool 

Service industries, from retail to hospitals, have long poached talent from hospitality. Now that hospitality is thriving and retail is shrinking, can hoteliers fight back?    

It’s well known that hospitality is laggard in innovation, particularly in the areas of human resources, learning and development. More fundamentally, they have avoided writing strong brand standards for franchisees and third parties that operate their hotels for the sake of growth. A typical hotel franchising circular contains only minor references to mandatory training and development. Few brands, if any, hire staff for this sole purpose. The evidence is in hotel budgets. As a rule of thumb, full-service hotels have four percent of revenue reserve for furniture, fixtures and equipment. However, while labor is the single largest cost in a full-service hotel, there is no such thing as a talent budget or training reserve. There is simply no accounting standard or benchmark for investing in service or people in full-service hotels.  

Hoteliers must build brands and products that start with the employee and customer experiences first.

Training and development remain traditional, course based and outsourced. Despite the explosion of online learning platforms, hospitality learning and development have remained largely traditional and insular. They remain dependent on third party industry platforms, brick and mortar hospitality universities and trade schools that are in short supply.

Most hotel brands like Hilton have an internal university or affiliation with hospitality schools in every major geographic region. For many reasons this is necessary but far from enough.  

What is required are new industry/academic partnerships to create online universities or experiential learning platforms. This will grow  the talent pool to enable people in career transitions to migrate to hospitality. 

For example, over 150,000 Americans lost jobs in retail and many of these people could work in hotels if they were able to learn basic hotel operations, marketing or accounting. A flight simulator for a hotel General Manager could help transition talent from other industries into hospitality and in the process help address the talent crisis. In order to end the talent disruption, hoteliers must build brands and products that start with the employee and customer experiences first rather than the real estate developers’ shelf-space.

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