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A place to learn, hone skills
Published on Thursday, 07 Jul 2011
Mass orientation before the April soft opening.
Photo: Hotel Icon
The executive committee includes director of human capital Francis Lau (seated centre) and general manager Richard Hatter (second from right).
Photo: Hotel Icon

Hotel Icon, Hong Kong's newest hotel that opened in April, is still hiring. Originally with 160 rooms, the hotel now has 220 rooms and three restaurants, and still has vacancies for about 20 people in the sales, food and beverage, and housekeeping departments.

"The goal is to have young people. The average age of our [full-time] staff is 23," says general manager Richard Hatter.

The hotel, which will have about 350 full-time staff, is looking for applicants who are confident and gregarious, and like a sense of freedom. "Some people need a lot of handholding - maybe it's not the right environment for them," says Hatter, who prefers to empower his staff.

Those who join will be part of a unique experience as full-time staff of an off-campus teaching hotel, purpose-built for the Hong Kong Polytechnic University's School of Hotel and Tourism Management, and will benefit from its learning environment.

"It's all about education. We are using education to push the envelope," Hatter says.

Upon joining, fresh hires go through a three-day orientation, which showcases the hotel's products and culture. After that, a five-day induction takes place in the department they will be attached to.

"They learn about the departmental organisation, the structure and the standard operating procedures. Some departmental training goes up to two weeks," says Francis Lau, director of human capital.

The hotel uses a lot of technology, including a computerised operating system that connects the hotel's different departments into one unit.

There is a clearly defined succession planning and further training is offered for career building, adds Lau. "According to their progress, we give them supervisory training, such as problem solving and service recovery."

Communication is an important point in the profession. Hatter says training even includes teaching the body language for someone wanting or not wanting to talk, in order to achieve a good balance between being overpowering and not chatting with the guests.

Whether its staff or interns, one of the training's purposes is to build confidence and self-esteem.

And, if fresh hires discover their interest lies in another department, the hotel is ready to accommodate the change, and offers cross-departmental training.

It also supports further studies and offers a 40 per cent discount on PolyU school fees. The hotel also offers a five-day work week and good benefits. Staff will also be in regular interaction with the hotel's interns and research students.

Every year, about 100 interns are expected to join the hotel from Hong Kong and overseas. Working with them and helping them learn will add an interesting aspect to the job and hone employees' capabilities.

The hotel is also planning to run workshops that can be attended by both their own staff and those from other hotels.

Being the research laboratory and training ground of PolyU's hotel and tourism school, Hotel Icon's primary mission is to create an environment for education and support the industry. "We hope staff will stay but we want to develop them for the future," says Hatter.