After weathering the global financial crisis, Asia's travel, tourism and hospitality industry is experiencing a welcome upturn in fortunes. Salary increases, however, remain muted.
According to the 2010 TMS Asia-Pacific Travel and Hospitality Industry Salary Survey, 40 per cent of 800 respondents from 13 countries across the region say they received an average pay increment of 1 to 5 per cent over the past 12 months - as inflation hovered around 2 per cent.
Now in its third year, the survey reveals that more than 70 per cent of participants consider career progression opportunities as "extremely" or "very" important in addition to a competitive salary. About 40 per cent report career progression opportunities as "excellent" or "good", while 7.3 per cent say career progression is non-existent.
TMS Asia-Pacific CEO Andrew Chan warns of a return of the "war for talent". He cautions that without continued commitment to staff retention strategies, employers could struggle to keep head count as new job offerings increase across the industry.
Respondents were drawn from related-industries, including airlines, inbound operators, gaming and casinos, meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE), retail and tourism boards.
Underlining the mainland's economic rise, industry-wide salaries on average there were reported to be US$62,200 compared with Singapore's US$64,283. This lags behind Hong Kong salaries, which boast the highest average of US$74,665.
Eunice Ng, director at recruiting specialist Avanza Consulting, says the sheer number of MICE events and the expanding Asian tourism market are driving a lot of the job growth. This expansion means there are greater and faster opportunities to progress within a company.
However, Ng says that many clients still find it difficult to attract people to middle-management positions in Macau.
Elsewhere in the region, Ng says the rivalry between brand names to attract experienced and fresh talent remains keen.
"Dynamic growth in most areas means that employers need to take care of valued staff by giving them new opportunities in addition to a reasonable compensation and benefits package," she says.
Daisy Wong, director of human resources at Shangri-La Hotels, says retention strategies are a vital part of her team's employment philosophy.
Company policy favours promotion from within, transparency and the recognition of skills and commitment.
"We also provide a lot of training and self-development programmes," Wong says. "In short, we hire for attitude and train for skills."