Several hotel general managers have approached me for assistance with recruitment. In order of the number of requests, here are the positions they seem to be having trouble with:
- Revenue Managers
- Distribution/ E-Commerce Managers
- Social Media Managers
- Marketing Managers
- Communication and PR
- Digital Marketing Managers
There are challenges elsewhere, but because I specialize in the commercial arena, the requests I get are in this area.
Hiring anyone to fill vacant positions has been a challenge, let alone talent. If what is happening in the US and Europe is any guide, the talent crunch is not going to ease for a while, even in Asia.
Here are some thoughts on what hotels can do to tackle the issue and still stay competitive. The key is to think carefully about your biggest problems and how technology or other changes can help you solve some of them.
Assess the level and nature of demand. This is important to ensure optimal deployment and shifting of resources.
For example, if you have strong demand, you need to focus more on revenue management. This could mean getting a better revenue manager or putting money into a strong revenue management system (RMS).
In the same way, if demand is low or you need to go after a new market that hasn't been your strong suit before, you need to put more marketing talent and money into advertising to make up for the shortfall.
Depending on your situation and needs, you could try the following:
Agencies and freelancers can take over your performance marketing, social media, and PR activities. You do need someone at the property who understands the deliverables and keeps the outsourcing partners on track.
If you are a part of a chain, a brand, or a group, it is possible to cluster some functions like revenue management, distribution, or sales. Again, it's important to make sure that all of the cluster functions for your hotel are being done correctly.
A revenue manager will be a lot more efficient with a revenue management system (RMS) and a distribution manager will be more productive with a channel manager or CRS. If your PMS is connected, reservations can be delivered straight into the system, alleviating the need for a bigger reservation team. You will be able to use fewer team members to manage digital marketing and social media if you use marketing automation and social media aggregation tools. Technology can make the biggest difference in your quest to address the talent shortage, and not just in the commercial department.
Shift resources or reshuffle
You may need more resources for marketing and distribution, but you may have a bigger sales team that brings in less revenue. If the chance comes up because of natural turnover or horizontal movement, you could put talent where it's needed. Rethink new hiring at every opportunity.
Stretch the current team
I understand this has been a common practice since the difficult days of the peak pandemic. What I want to caution hoteliers about is to be mindful of where the actual strengths of a team member lie. A distribution or E-Commerce team member could be stretched to do revenue management, but do they have skills for sales? It is about optimal performance on top of being a cost-saving measure.
Absorb extra costs for distribution/sales/optimisation
You may be left with little choice but to pay higher costs on commissions, margins, overrides, contributions, discounts and more. This can be a good but temporary measure as long as you calculate the costs of distribution and have a finite deadline for getting out of it.
A smart hotelier would ask whether these measures are temporary or permanent. It's important to know what these strategies cost and how they affect the long-term profitability of your property.
For a more sustainable approach, consider the following. It is something you can plan for and shift to gradually.
- Invest in technology—CRM, BI, RMS, cloud PMS, CMS, and social media management, to name a few.
- Work on automation and personalization at scale.
- Hire talent and/or add more training and upskilling resources.
- Double down on marketing and strategy.
- Sharpen your loyalty and retention strategies.
- Employee retention strategies: flexibility and compensation benchmarking
- Succession planning
Demand shifts, inflation, a talent crunch, and extra-long hours are going to stay with us for a while. Consider it a major correction period. The industry will have to pay the price (or reap the benefits) of whatever they had to do with their teams during the pandemic.
However, I strongly believe that we will come out on the other side. "This, too, shall pass," one of my former CEOs, Peter Henley, used to say.
You can let your situation push you there, or you can take charge of how you fare on the other side.
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