By Vanguélis Panayotis

A career is a lifetime achievement – from early days in one’s career all the way to maturity, expectations will inevitably evolve for those who have chosen the industry. It is our duty to adapt to these expectations. Whatever they might be, we all search for meaning. As an industry, it is up to hospitality to bring this meaning to its employees. Therefore, many stakeholders have become involved in helping communities, implementing concrete actions to preserve the planet and addressing (gender) diversity. Let’s remember that tourism accounts for 10.3% of global GDP and also more than 300 million jobs worldwide*.

It is those who are in charge today that have the responsibility to shape a new vision for the hospitality industry. Managers and leaders have to set up the right environment to perform – and when it is related to service – to have the right mindset to deliver true empathy to the client. This can only be achieved by understanding the dreams, wishes and expectations of younger generations. Employees today have been our children yesterday. They are used to being listened to and expect to find that same level of consideration at work.

At Hospitality ON, we took this challenge seriously by launching the Young Talent Awards this year. Five partners dared students to imagine the hospitality industry of tomorrow. These tasks were extremely well met by all student teams which demonstrates the richness of young minds who are to become tomorrow’s leaders.

There is, however, a current lack of inflow of new talent. That is mainly due to many jobs in our industry no longer being attractive but rather demanding. Sébastien Bazin, CEO at Accor, doubles down on this problem by stating that staying in these kinds of demanding positions cannot be maintained for too long for employees. “If we want people to stay in our companies, we have to give them opportunities to move forward.”

“Hospitality is about taking care of others, meeting other cultures, living an adventure,” Steven Daines, CTO Accor, told us. It is a craft where you can bring jobs and infrastructures in places where there were close to none before. Training locals to run hotels should be of priority and is one of the many solutions to face the lack of employee inflow. “In the hospitality industry, you can start from an unqualified position to end up opening your own business. You can travel around the world, you can meet many people and sometimes – all that in one single hotel,” shared Eric Viale, VP & Managing Director Southern Europe IHG Hotels & Resorts, with us.

It is now time to improve communication. Being appealing will be key to attract talents and keep them loyal to one brand or property. “HR Leaders should learn from consumer marketing strategies and be mindful of their market positioning. Creating seamless & appealing candidate experience plays a crucial role,” said Inigo Capell, Global Chief People & Resources Officer, Radisson Hotel Group.

A healthy wakeup call reminded us that by just assigning responsibilities as well as offering new working conditions and development tools we will not solve the issues faced. It requires a change in the organisation of hotels (schedules, revamp of recruitment process, etc.) and should lead to productivity gains.

Whatever the solutions chosen by each hospitality leader might be, it is clear that the link between employer and employee has dramatically changed – and hopefully for the better. Baby boomer’s parents were working to survive, taken poorly into consideration and having no alternative but to comply. Today’s leaders have been working for social recognition and life standards. And the next generation will work for their quality of life. After the wake up call of ‘the big quit’ and with staff shortages remaining, we have to ask ourselves the right questions.

Despite this being said, our industry still holds its own source of hope. As I had the opportunity to remind everyone attending the Hospitality Awards, many hoteliers have helped their employees, clients and communities during long gone as well as recent crises that we have overcome together. Tomorrow’s hospitality will narrow down these trenches between staff, managers and clients even further for them to eventually disappear entirely. For this, everyone has their role to play. By this, #hospitalityforpeace will be more than a hashtag – but a virtue.

*Source : WTTC Economic Impact Reports – prior to the pandemic