Comment: The importance of investing in people

Comment: The importance of investing in people

FHS speakers share guidelines for how to recruit and retain the right workforce 

The Future Hospitality Summit (FHS) is set to serve up three days of debate, insight and exciting industry in Abu Dhabi next week, from 25 to 28 September. With the theme ‘Focus on Investment’, a key focus of the hospitality summit is on the importance of investing in people, so we asked a selection of FHS speakers to share their guidelines on recruiting and retaining the right people. Here are their views. 

Mariam Al Musharrekh, executive director of Human Resources at Miral: The hospitality sector has gone through a revolution over the past few years through the integration of digital ecosystems within its operations. Following this revolution, recruitment, retention and development remain a focal point for success within the industry, as hospitality professionals are key to driving hyper-personalised experiences.

Now, more than ever, the workforce must be bigger, broader thinkers, and must be technically equipped to deal with an increasingly agile workforce. A heightened focus on investing in finding the right individuals for specific roles is paramount. It is also important to nurture top-tier talent as it directly correlates with long-term organisational success.

Dimitris Manikis, president EMEA, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts: I imagine many among us look back on the evolution of our industry and wonder what we did before the digital era enveloped us; the opportunity to streamline operations, optimise resources, and increase efficiency has been valuable far beyond simply growing revenue - providing endless opportunities to elevate guest experiences and freeing up staff for more personalised interactions.

Our industry thrives on human connection. While technology certainly enhances experiences, it's the human touch that truly matters and what our guests remember. Investing in finding and nurturing the right talent is vital for success. It requires passionate individuals who understand the delicate balance between technology and hospitality, and by dedicating more of our time and budgets towards mentorship programmes, cross-training, and tailored development paths, we can enable our teams to navigate change confidently and achieve exceptional outcomes.

The short answer is yes, investment is needed, but it’s not just about investing more money. It’s also about investing in the next generation and starting at the grassroots. This means working with schools and universities to facilitate internship programmes that ensure young talent learns from industry leaders and builds towards the future.

Sunil John, president - Middle East and North Africa, ASDA'A-BCW: Over the years, ASDA’A BCW has provided communications consultancy to some of the leading hospitality majors in the region, including homegrown and now international brands such as Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts.

From our experience of working with the hospitality leaders, we believe that what really sets them apart is their people. As a service industry, it is the personal passion and commitment that the employees bring which build hotel brands.
In today’s fast changing, digital-driven landscape, the teams must stay up to date and current with the latest skills and knowledge to remain relevant and productive.

The industry can assist them in this journey by investing in training programs that build on their existing expertise and provide them with new competencies that will both prepare them for the future of work as well as improve their job satisfaction and loyalty.

There are certain timeless qualities that anyone looking to start their career in the hospitality industry should have – first and foremost, a sense of customer service; attention to detail; interpersonal skills; and flexibility.  


Paul Griep, director of Industry & Alumni Relations Hotelschool The Hague: I don't necessarily believe that finding and retaining the right people for the job immediately means a higher investment considering only "costs".  Investment is needed, but I believe this is more from a creative and innovative nature. Young graduates entering the industry will already be way more tech savvy than we sometimes realise. Education should entice and develop these innovations and industry should encourage, use and take positive advantage of these skills when applying and/or developing tech related aspects of service. 

I believe both education as well as the industry can make a true competitive difference by assessing which aspects of the hospitality journey can be resolved by technology and which aspects will need more "human" touch. Due to the increase in tech, there may and should be more focus on "touch" in other high impact areas of the guest journey. 

Jeroen Greven, Managing Director, The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management: In a rapidly evolving hospitality landscape, continuous learning and upskilling are crucial to keep workforce skills relevant. On demand learning incorporating emerging technologies and industry trends enables employees to adapt and excel. Moreover, fostering a culture of learning and innovation encourages staff to embrace change. 

To ensure the right workforce is applied in the right role, substantial investment is indeed necessary, both in learning and in effective skills assessment/role matching tools. Retention can be enhanced by providing growth opportunities, work-life balance, and a supportive work environment. By prioritising both skill development and employee satisfaction, the sector can thrive amidst changing guest needs and technological advancements.

For more information, visit www.futurehospitalitysummit.com 

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