The Best HR Practices in the Hospitality Industry

best hr practices

In the hospitality industry, the quality of your customer services and staff responsiveness has a direct impact on the image and reputation of your hotel, as well as its bottom line. Being the frontline brand ambassadors, the performance of your employees is what drives the true competitive of your hotel. To stay ahead of the curve, you need to attract, train, develop, and retain passionate, competent, and accountable employees, and find ways to keep them engaged and motivated to perform their best.

Hotel executives need to devise a well-managed and robust talent management strategy that creates a culture of ongoing development, high performance, and organization-wide commitment to providing top-notch service in a practical way. In this article, we are going to examine the value of talent management and how hoteliers can include high levels of customer centricity in the hospitality industry for optimum results.

Best Practices for Talent Management and High Levels of Customer Centricity

HR managers and executives have always concentrated on basic steps of talent management, such as recruiting, hiring, and retaining skilled and experienced employees. But to reach high levels of success, they need dedicated, high-performing employees that utilize customer-centric approach. Moreover, they need to establish a talent management strategy focused on developing a culture driven by performance based evaluations to help curb employee turnover costs, increase employee satisfaction, and assure high customer service levels.

Implementing a talent management program requires careful planning and thorough understanding of all the organization’s elements that work in unison to drive results. Many hotels are incorporating web-based solutions to optimize their key management functions in order for managers, HR executives, and employees to shift their focus to other high value activities.

A good example of web-based talent management system is of Pechanga Resort and Casino in California. It handles employee appraisals and support performance programs for its workforce of over 5000 employees. Within just a year, the hotel experienced significant positive results in terms of better alignment and lower turnover.

Some hotels are using several highly effective talent management practices to enforce customer-centric culture to improve their customer services:

Creating Internal Talent Pools

Instead of driving resources to finding new hires with specific skills set for different positions, hotels are cultivating talent pools internally and preparing their employees to assume leadership roles whenever the time comes.

Developing Collaboration by Eliminating Information Silos

Information silos hinder information flow among different levels of organization and create obstacles in the way of success. For better performance, experience and knowledge must be readily available to employees, and must be proactively delivered to the right person at the right time.

Meaningful Customer Service Values

While every hotel has its own elaborate purpose, mission, and vision, it is of paramount importance that they include elements geared toward providing meaningful and differentiated customer experience. The senior management needs to outline such customer service values of their hotel, and ensure that their staff at all levels has clear understanding of how their individual actions contribute to providing these values.

Aligning Corporate Strategy with Individual Roles

Goal alignment is a powerful management tool. When you engage employees using this tool, they feel greater ownership in directing their efforts to achieving the hotel’s strategic goals, and become more committed to exhibit higher performance.

Employee Empowerment

Apart from establishing meaningful customer service values, senior executives also need to empower employees to ensure they deliver them in a way that adds values to the customer experience. Not only that, they should be able to closely tie the hotel’s purpose with the culture of employee empowerment, in order to generate effective results.

Executing Enterprise-Wide Transformation

Effective and long-term structural transformation is essentially based on four main characteristics: scale, magnitude, duration, and strategic importance. Nevertheless, hotels can only reap the benefits when the transformation takes place at individual employee level. There is no one-size-fit-all solution for executing change organization-wide, but there are several tools, techniques, and practices that can be implemented in most situations.

Change should Start at the Top

While change in an organization is unsettling for people at all levels, employees turn to the upper management and leaders to provide strength and support, and lead by example. The leaders will have to first embrace the new approaches and become a role model, if they want to motivate the rest of the workforce.

Clearly Communicating the Message

Too often, it has been observed that leaders assume their employees will eventually understand the issues, sense the need to change, and set themselves on the new direction to embrace the change. Instead, they need to reinforce core messages through timely advice, which should be both practical and inspirational. Moreover, to ensure the execution of change, the leaders may need to over-communicate in certain situations through multiple, redundant mediums.

Explaining How Change Affects Employees Individually

Organization-wide change is not only an institutional journey; it is a personal one as well. Each employee needs to know this change is going to affect their work, what they are expected during and after the transformation process, on what basis their performance will be measured, and what is the altered definition of success and failure.

Involve Every Layer

As the transformation process progress, the leaders need to be identified and trained in a way that they completely understand the altered vision, mission, and values in order to make the change a success.

Lessons from Industry Leaders: Acts of Extreme Customer Services

Ritz Carlton Hotel

The famous Ritz Carlton Hotel set an example of great customer service, which went viral on the internet in no time. Chris Hurn stayed at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Amelia Island on a vacation with his family, where his son accidently left behind his dearest stuffed animal, Joshie. Chris told his son that Joshie decided to stay a little longer there. He called the hotel to enquire whether they have Joshie, as his son was feeling devastated without his little friend. Luckily, they found it and told Chris that they will send Joshie over.

To support Chris’s little story, the hotel staff took a few pictures of Joshie having a massage, by the poolside, and taking a drive along the beach. Impressed by the thoughtfulness of the hotel, he decided to make a video to share his experience with the world.

InterContinental Hotels

InterContinental Hotels started offering destination advice to tourists by making videos featuring hotel concierges. The hotel also uses live video chat on Apple’s Facetime and Skype to connect with their guests to provide their concierge service for a higher level of customer service through digital channels.

Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center

The Gaylord Opryland resort is operated by Marriott International, and knows how to satisfy a repeat customer to keep them coming back for more. Christina McMenemy, a regular customer of the hotel, was entranced with the spa-style music of the clock radio in the guestroom. Since the clock was custom-made for the hotel only, she couldn’t find it anywhere to get one for her bedroom.

During her recent visit, she expressed her desire to the hotel management if she could get the alarm clock, but was turned down. Disappointed, she decided to give up her hunt. But later on, she found two alarm clocks on her side table with a note saying, “We hope you enjoy these spa sounds at home.”

With the cutthroat competition in the hospitality industry, a well-thought-out talent management strategy has the power to dramatically improve customer service levels, along with employee engagement, and significantly lower the employee turnover rate. The result is a more competitive, agile organization, where each member of the workforce has a clear idea of what is recognized as accomplishments and how they can achieve rewards.


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Louis Carter
Louis Carter is CEO and founder of Best Practice Institute, social/organizational psychologist, executive coach and author of more than 11 books on leadership and management including his newest book just released by McGraw Hill: In Great Company: How to Spark Peak Performance by Creating an Emotionally Connected Workplace. He has lectured globally in the U.S., Middle East, and Asia on his work and research in organization and leadership development and is an executive coach and advisor to CEOs and C-levels of mid-sized to Fortune 500 organizations. He was named one of Global Gurus Top Organizational Culture Gurus in the world and was chosen to be one of 100 coaches to be in the MG100 (Marshall Goldsmith) out of 14,000 people as one of the top 100 coaches in the world .