According to research conducted by Global Future and Foresight, the regional tourism industry will require 1.5 million employees by 2017, to sustain the breakneck development of hotels and regional tourism infrastructure. However hotels in particular are being faced with a series of new HR challenges such as competition for staff from other hotels in the region, a hike in the cost of living, emerging economies now providing adequate employment at home and the reluctance of nationals to take jobs in the industry. Effective recruitment and retention is therefore more critical than ever before, for the success and sustainability of the regional industry.
Speaking at this year's Hotel Show Seven Star Conference, Judith Chalk, Editor, Human Assets, Middle East, will address the issues facing the industry, "Regional hoteliers are beginning to adopt a number of creative strategies to address this dilemma, but simply recruiting the relevant number of staff in itself is not enough and merely the first step, it must lead to development and successful retention. Hotels that invest heavily in a sustainable HR strategy will be those who will achieve the best bottom-line results."
However, well-established first class hotels in the region are experiencing a loss of trained staff to competitors leaving them exposed as new, insufficiently trained staff, are thrust into front of house positions to plug the service gap. Ironically this has led some hotels to cut back their training and development budgets, fearful that they are only preparing talent to be poached by rival hotels.
Another challenge regional hotel management face is that due to the phenomenal growth in the hotel sector, an additional 1.5 million hospitality personnel will be required over the next ten years. Hundreds of new projects are scheduled for completion over the next few years and according to developer Nakheel, 210 hotels will be operational on the three Dubai Palms alone with the first 30 due on Jumeirah Palm within two years. In addition new hotel properties often include serviced apartments, spas and recreation facilities, which call for additional staffing requirements.
To compound the situation, traditional source markets for rank and file staff are changing. "The most obvious example of this is India, where the growth of the Indian economy means that similar jobs will be available much nearer to home and family. Although salaries maybe lower, so is the cost of living, making destinations such as Dubai less attractive for them," said Maggie Moore, Exhibition Director of The Hotel Show.
Finally the region is also at a disadvantage due to the reluctance of nationals to fill hospitality vacancies, with comparatively low pay and long, often unsociable working hours cited as the chief reasons.
Addressing these issues through the use of case studies, Chalk will review the strategies adopted by major hotels to address these issues. Chalk will also supplement her review with a summary of research findings on effective recruitment and retention; interview and selection tactics, including the increasing use of overseas recruitment partners, acculturation (developing a learning culture), offering long-term career prospects and the use of exit interviews to feed-back directly into future recruitment and staff management policy planning.
"Hotels can only go so far with technology, amenities and luxury. Service will provide the market edge of the future and regional hotels now have to face theses challenges head-on. Tourists especially, benchmark hotels internationally, they not only have a choice of which hotel but of which destination," added Chalk.
Also addressing human resources related issues at The Seven Star Conference are John Mowatt, Head of Department, The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management who will speak about 'Emiratisation in the Hospitality Industry'; Leslie Grogan of PSL London who will present, 'Manage your Team Like A Sales Team' and 'Awaken the Entrepreneurial Spirit of your Front of House Team' and Michelle Sabti, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority who will talk about 'Cultural Considerations for Business Success in the Middle East.'
The Seven Star Conference takes place at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre (DIEC) on 3-4 June, runs alongside The Hotel Show, which will be open to industry professionals from 3-5 June in halls 1-7 at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre.