Executives from hotel companies said training, culture and career growth help boost employee morale, which drives guest satisfaction and helps build a successful hotel operation.
PHOENIX—A successful hotel needs dedicated employees, which require training, good corporate culture and opportunities for career advancement, sources said.
During the “Transform your hotel operations” session at The Lodging Conference, speakers said driving employee satisfaction is one of the first steps to driving guest satisfaction and operating a successful hotel.
For Chesapeake Hospitality, “culture is key to a hotel,” according to COO Chris Green.
“Culture’s something if it doesn’t run deep in your company, it’s a real risk for you,” he said. “You’re not going to be able to (attract) and retain talent, and that culture has to lead to … people seeing what’s possible for them in a career in hospitality and make it not just another job that they’re passing through.”
Aside from good workplace culture, Green said training, growth opportunities, a pleasant work environment and “having benefits that are comparable to other industries,” drives employee satisfaction.
Fred Grapstein, SVP at Vornado Realty Trust, agreed that training and culture are key components to creating a successful workplace, but spending time with employees is also important.
“So there are 60,000 hospitality jobs right now that are unfilled in the U.S. that in addition to everything we’ve spoken about … the face time, the opportunity to spend time with your employees, is an absolute key,” he said. “I really think you need to devote more time to your employee. Time is the most valuable asset you have, and if employees are the most valuable asset you have, I think that’s the opportunity to bring that together.”
At Hotel Equities, creating a clear career path for employees is another key to success, according to Joe Reardon, SVP of marketing and business development. The company has been around for 28 years, and has a great retention level, part of which can be contributed to “making people understand they have a purpose,” Reardon said.
“We want to really guide them in what their purpose is, so career-pathing is very important,” he said. “So we educate our associates at all times about our growth and our development, and the opportunities they can look forward to.”
Reardon added that the onboarding process for associates is critical.
“Spending that quality time when they get on board and making sure they understand what the expectations are and vice versa, and … creating a better, clearer path for our associates, I think that’s very important,” he said.
Training employees to work in multiple roles on-property is another way to encourage career growth and allow associates to experience different jobs, sources said.
Chesapeake’s Green said cross-training employees can lead to less turnover.
“Great culture and great training leads to less turnover, but also, a well-trained, seasoned employee delivers whatever the metric is, 120-130%, maybe 150% of a new associate, so cross-trained people … (is) huge,” he said. “It doesn’t just help you as an operator, it helps (associates) grow their career.”
He added that the hospitality space is currently in need of employees, which makes it a good time for people from other industries to join the hotel industry.
“We need people so bad that if you’re good and you’re committed, you could move through the ranks rapidly,” he said.
Newport Hospitality Group properties are using a technology platform to help associates communicate with each other when there’s a guest issue or management problem, and the platform helps ensure these issues receive appropriate follow-up, said EVP Andrew Carey.
“It takes a lot of the processes that used to be paper-based in terms of maintaining the asset, communicating about guest issues and following up on something … (A) front-desk agent can be talking to a guest, find out something is wrong in their room, (send it) to the platform and an engineer can get that signal, go directly up there and solve the problem,” he said.
Carey added that Newport doesn’t use technology to help associates cross jobs, but uses technology more to help make job functions more efficient.