{468x60.media}
Ms. Connolly

Human Resources, Recruitment & Training

Identifying Four Elements That Make An Amazing Hire

By Zoe Connolly, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Hospitality Spotlight

As readers of HotelExecutive.com know, finding the right people to fill leadership roles in their company or facilities can provide a challenge. For hospitality companies that aren't using a recruiter to fill key roles, the following are four traits that can help hotel leaders identify the right people, along with suggested interview questions that might help to identify whether these traits are present in a candidate. After all, some people can ace an interview, but may not ultimately be a fit. Using the approach below should help you build a management team that functions efficiently, limits turnover, and most importantly, keeps guests coming back for more.

Customer Service

A dedication to customer service is an obvious place to start when looking for your next hire. Even at the top levels of an organization, dedication to the customer must come first, especially in the hospitality space.

When they were building their newest hotel in Chicago, Virgin hotels replaced all of the typical buttons of a phone (reservations, room service, etc) with one simple button, labeled 'Yes'. The same author who wrote the story about 'the yes button' also tells a great story about a local Inn that saved a couple's romantic getaway that highlights the way customers at hotels should be treated.

Identifying which candidates say they're dedicated to customer service, and those who really are dedicated to customer service can be a challenge. To separate the wheat from the chaff, hiring managers can incorporate a few specific insights into the interview process.

  • When asking a candidate to identify an experience where they provided customer service that went above and beyond, be certain to make sure the candidate knows or remembers the customer's names. Someone who really made a customer's day will likely remember that person's name (or some other characteristics). By asking for details about a story, a hiring manager can better identify people for whom customer service really matters.

  • Another way to identify whether a candidate might be a customer service fit is to use prior hotel experience. Hiring managers can draw on actual guest experiences, perhaps by looking at complaint cards, to see how a candidate would have handled things differently.

  • Ask the candidate if they had free range to implement anything that would enhance overall guest experience, what would it be.

Knowledge

When people are on travel, it's often to see a place they haven't been before. Many guests want to take advantage of local opportunities, and for hiring leaders for an individual hotel, it's important to prioritize local knowledge. Local dive bars, family attractions, off the beaten path restaurants, are common requests from guests, and the ability to answer these questions effectively can be the difference between a mediocre stay and an amazing experience.

That's not to say you can't hire from another city; it's more important that a manager has a plan to find the types of places that a guest may request.

Key questions to ask during the interview process might include:

  • The types of places a candidate might enjoy spending time- Asking about variety of experiences can help to paint the picture of a candidate who's one dimensional (only interested in sports) versus one who might have more interests. A willingness to show flexibility of interests can be very helpful in having someone who can make great recommendations for guests.

  • Another way to identify a candidate's versatility and ability to generate local knowledge is to ask about the most fun thing they've done over the past few months. This question may identify how willing to go out of their typical comfort zone to find new experiences a candidate might be.

  • If the candidate is from outside of the location or market, ask them what they would do in order to become an expert in all things that guests might enjoy.

Sociability

Whether or not we want to acknowledge it or not, the internet writes in ink. It's imperative that leaders in hospitality organizations make sure that all of the interactions the company has are geared toward making sure everything online is either positive or leading to a resolution.

For instance, if a customer sends a less than flattering tweet to a hotel chain, the corporate communications and customer service teams need to be able to remediate the issue. In cases where those tweets are specific to a local hotel where a stay is taking place, that same corporate team needs to be able to respond in real-time, with input from someone at the hotel location. By way of example, if a guest tweets that they wish they had more towels, the coordination between a social media team and local hotel should have a guest services person at the hotel door with more towels, almost immediately.

How do you identify whether a candidate understand all of the components to this type of real time, real and digital world feedback?

  • To begin with, hiring managers should ask about a candidate's social presence. Are they on multiple platforms? Are they aware of various tools that consolidate various sites into one location (like Hootsuite, for example).

  • Another way to identify whether a candidate 'gets' social media is to ask is they read any particular blogs or publications focused on the medium. From Mashable to Forbes, Hootsuite to TheSocialTimes, there is no shortage of materials being written to discuss how to best use social media for customer service.

  • If the candidate doesn't have the best social media presence, ask them what they would do to change it and what they've done in the past in order to learn new things. This will show how the candidate will address challenges outside of their comfort zone.

Cultural Fit

Corporate culture is a key ingredient to a successful leader, and making sure that someone is a fit professionally and personally is critical to making hires that will stay for the long term. Our firm, Hospitality Spotlight, actually uses a corporate culture analysis for both our clients and candidates to identify synergies before making an introduction. In many cases, this can serve to eliminate candidates who are qualified on paper, but who may ultimately not stay for long.

To identify cultural fit within a candidate, it's important first for leadership in a hotel to identify the traits that make people successful, as well as what makes them happy in their role. This might be as simple as a level of friendliness amongst the staff, an out of work program that lots of people participate in (perhaps a sports league), or any number of other things. When we do a cultural analysis, we identify multiple variables that can combine to make up a corporate culture.

Once the culture is identified, it's important to identify whether a candidate will fit into that culture.

An easy way to begin building a cultural analysis is a brief employee survey, asking open ended questions about why people like working there. Once that's done, HR managers can look for trends. Those trends are generally what define a culture, either at a particular hotel or across the organization.

Key questions to ask candidates during the interview process to identify whether a candidate will be a cultural fit can be drawn from the employee survey.

  • Things like 'do you enjoy (the identified cultural elements) or anything that's similar?' If multiple employees mention the soccer league they're a part of, a candidate who enjoys various athletic challenges (perhaps a runner) might be a fit.

  • You can ask the candidate if there is a social aspect created by their current employer. If yes, what are the activities. If not, what would they change about the social aspect at their current employer.

  • For a senior level employee, ask if they plan on or hope to be able to bring any of their current team members with them (assuming there is no poaching language in their contract). This will show that they've worked on their current relationships and may show a willingness to work on current relationships. Adaptability is a key factor at any level.

  • Ask about how formal or relaxed their current work environment is and if they enjoy this aspect or if they would like to change it and why .

  • Also ask about how they usually deal with conflict with employees or co-workers. You may want to include a type of issue you currently have. It is important for the candidate to instinctively want to be a problem solver.

Hiring the right people is critical to setting a hotel up for success. It is apparent to guests when people enjoy the work they're doing, and when the team cares immensely about the guest experience. Using the questions above can help to better identify which candidates will both be successful, and stay around longer.

Zoe Connolly is the co-founder and managing director for Hospitality Spotlight, a full service executive search firm for the hospitality and travel industries. For more than a decade, she’s pioneered innovative and proactive recruiting efforts, connecting the best talent with the best companies, across all levels of organizations. Currently, through working with clients like Starwood, Viceroy and Pacifica Hotels, Hospitality Spotlight has emerged as one of the go-to firms for senior level talent in the hotel and travel technology space. A refreshing combination of an expansive network and brutal honesty continues to push Ms. Connolly and her clients, both companies and candidates into a bright spotlight. Ms. Connolly can be contacted at 858-230-8501 or zoe@hospitalityspotlight.com Please visit www.hospitalityspotlight.com for more information. Extended Bio...

HotelExecutive.com retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. Articles cannot be republished without prior written consent by HotelExecutive.com.

Receive our daily newsletter with the latest breaking news and hotel management best practices.
Hotel Business Review on Facebook
RESOURCE CENTER - SEARCH ARCHIVES
General Search:

OCTOBER: Revenue Management: Technology and Big Data

Gary Isenberg

Hotel room night inventory is the hotel industry’s most precious commodity. Hotel revenue management has evolved into a complex and fragmented process. Today’s onsite revenue manager is influenced greatly by four competing forces, each armed with their own set of revenue goals and objectives -- as if there are virtually four individual revenue managers, each with its own distinct interests. So many divergent purposes oftentimes leading to conflicts that, if left unchecked, can significantly damper hotel revenues and profits. READ MORE

Jon Higbie

For years, hotels have housed their Revenue Management systems on their premises. This was possible because data sets were huge but manageable, and required large but not overwhelming amounts of computing power. However, these on-premise systems are a thing of the past. In the era of Big Data, the cost of building and maintaining an extensive computing infrastructure is incredibly expensive. The solution – cloud computing. The cloud allows hotels to create innovative Revenue Management applications that deliver revenue uplift and customized guest experiences. Without the cloud, hotels risk remaining handcuffed to their current Revenue Management solutions – and falling behind competitors. READ MORE

Jenna Smith

You do not have to be a hospitality professional to recognize the influx and impact of new technologies in the hotel industry. Guests are becoming familiar with using virtual room keys on their smartphones to check in, and online resources like review sites and online travel agencies (OTAs) continue to shape the way consumers make decisions and book rooms. Behind the scenes, sales and marketing professionals are using new tools to communicate with guests, enhance operational efficiencies, and improve service by addressing guests’ needs and solving problems quickly and with a minimum of disruption. READ MORE

Yatish Nathraj

Technology is becoming an ever more growing part of the hospitality industry and it has helped us increase efficiency for guest check-inn, simplified the night audit process and now has the opportunity to increase our revenue production. These systems need hands on calibration to ensure they are optimized for your operations. As a manager you need to understand how these systems work and what kind of return on investment your business is getting. Although some of these systems maybe mistaken as a “set it and forget it” product, these highly sophisticated tools need local expert like you and your team to analysis the data it gives you and input new data requirements. READ MORE

Coming Up In The November Online Hotel Business Review




{300x250.media}
Feature Focus
Architecture & Design: Authentic, Interactive and Immersive
If there is one dominant trend in the field of hotel architecture and design, it’s that travelers are demanding authentic, immersive and interactive experiences. This is especially true for Millennials but Baby Boomers are seeking out meaningful experiences as well. As a result, the development of immersive travel experiences - winery resorts, culinary resorts, resorts geared toward specific sports enthusiasts - will continue to expand. Another kind of immersive experience is an urban resort – one that provides all the elements you'd expect in a luxury resort, but urbanized. The urban resort hotel is designed as a staging area where the city itself provides all the amenities, and the hotel functions as a kind of sophisticated concierge service. Another trend is a re-thinking of the hotel lobby, which has evolved into an active social hub with flexible spaces for work and play, featuring cafe?s, bars, libraries, computer stations, game rooms, and more. The goal is to make this area as interactive as possible and to bring people together, making the space less of a traditional hotel lobby and more of a contemporary gathering place. This emphasis on the lobby has also had an associated effect on the size of hotel rooms – they are getting smaller. Since most activities are designed to take place in the lobby, there is less time spent in rooms which justifies their smaller design. Finally, the wellness and ecology movements are also having a major impact on design. The industry is actively adopting standards so that new structures are not only environmentally sustainable, but also promote optimum health and well- being for the travelers who will inhabit them. These are a few of the current trends in the fields of hotel architecture and design that will be examined in the November issue of the Hotel Business Review.