Day 2 Highlights from HX: The Hotel Experience 2018
The second and final day of this year’s HX: The Hotel Experience event at New York City’s Jacob Javits Center was action-packed with educational sessions just as the first day was. But the second day’s sessions were largely focused on the business issues that challenge hotel owners and operators in today’s market.
These panel forums examined topics ranging from guest loyalty and capital expenditures to bomb prevention and the implementation of electric vehicle charging stations. Nevertheless, a number of discussions still turned to hiring, recruiting and retention practices as labor continues to have a major impact on the bottom line of hotels across the U.S.
Here are some highlights from Day 2:
- Speaking at the session “Proven Strategies to Maximize ROI in Today’s Hotel Landscape,” the four panelists – Raj Chudasama, managing partner, Kriya Hotels; Amish Naik, vice president development and owner relations at PM Hotel Group; Biran Patel, general manager at BHP Investments Group; and Harshil Patel, vice president, Champion Hotels – signaled that the greatest issues facing the hotel industry today after labor challenges are 1) an impending recession 2) interest rates and construction costs 3) fee creep and 4) new supply.
- Panelists addressing how “Boutique Touches Drive Brand Success” looked at staffing on a more granular level as part of their conversation on how hotel employees are a reflection of the experience that lifestyle hotels promise their guests. “The key to differentiating the hotel experience is in the service and that comes down to hiring,” said Adrianne Korczynski, vice president and creative director at design and architectural firm FRCH Design Worldwide. “Define your hotel’s point of view and hire people who represent that point of view.” Co-panelist Meredith Belman, managing director at management consulting firm Root, Inc., further explained that a hotel themed around outdoor adventure experiences must seek employees who are already adventure enthusiasts rather than attempt to cultivate an interest in the activity among new hires.
- But hiring practices are just one aspect of building a strong team. Company culture also plays a part of determining the long-term health of a successful staff and panel members at the session “Hiring, Retaining and Creating Company Culture” examined how company culture is derived from company values and the trickle down effect that both have on employees. Janet Hoffman, president of consulting firm HR Aligned Design, pointed out that culture starts at the top. “Leadership needs to define company culture because the culture needs their vision, but it should also involve employees who already know what the work environment is like,” she explained. “Once you determine your values, they’ll drive your decision making and the direction of the organization.”
- Mariel Ulane, area director, human resources at Standard Hotels, also raised the point that, in the hospitality industry, company culture does not simply define the work environment. It also affects guests. “Company culture also involves the rituals that we create for employees and for guests and we need to understand that we’re also adding value to the experience when we create a company culture.”
- While the industry’s financial executives often consider the tight labor market and costs that challenge so many hotels to deliver an exceptional guest experience with healthy margins, hotel human resource departments are also evolving best practices to keep current in a rapidly changing environment and still attract highly qualified candidates from the pool of available talent.