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Rebound prompts recruitment
Wilson Lau
update on Saturday, August 7, 2010
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The region's economic recovery and the opening of new hotels have led to greater demand for manpower in the local hospitality sector.

At the same time, strong competition has prompted many hotels to enhance service standards by increasing their workforce.

"The job market in the hotel sector is strong and healthy. We are experiencing a rebound in hotel development," says Judy Hou, director of human capital at Hotel ICON, which is scheduled to open for business early next year.

Richard Hatter, general manager of Hotel ICON, says some hotels might have postponed recruitment last year but, as business has improved, hotels have begun re-hiring.

Located in Tsim Sha Tsui East, Hotel ICON is the Polytechnic University's research and teaching hotel, and it has more than 260 rooms.

"We are expanding our business and enhancing our service levels," says Katy Fok, director of human resources at The Mira Hong Kong. The hotel will organise a career day this month, with "openings from entry level to middle management, including some replacements and additional headcount".

Island Shangri-La has also stepped up recruitment, says Kenneth Wai, area director for human resources. "Most positions are at the operational level," he says. "There are also some vacancies in middle management due to internal promotions. The labour supply is sufficient. That said, it remains tough to find [top professionals] who are a perfect match with our corporate culture." 

To attract the right talent, some hotels have raised remuneration packages. Aside from salary, job-seekers, particularly from "Generation Y", choose employers by considering future career prospects and development opportunities. "They consider the overall working environment of the prospective employer," Wai says. "They aspire to work in an environment where they feel their contributions are valued, and they can get job satisfaction."

Hou says "Generation Y" job-seekers attach great importance to work-life balance. Echoing Wai's sentiment about pleasant working environments, Fok says the hotel offers comprehensive care packages for employees to help foster a sense of belonging.

"We have a fully equipped play room with the latest interactive video game systems," Fok says. "Our staff canteen regularly promotes healthy and nutritious dishes. We also have sleep rooms for individuals to take a break. The new generation wants uniqueness and something they can identify with. As an independent hotel, we offer more flexibility to our staff compared with international hotel chains. For example, our `innovation service group' initiative encourages individuals to contribute ideas to help enhance our services."

Meanwhile, the tourism sector in Hong Kong has been putting resources into developing the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (Mice) sector because of intense competition from other cities in the region. The Mice business can be an edge for the local hotel and tourism sectors, Wai says. "Hong Kong is a financial hub and many multinational corporations have retained their regional headquarters in the city."

Hatter says corporations prefer Hong Kong to other countries in the region, such as Vietnam and Cambodia, which are considered exotic destinations. "They like Hong Kong because they can be sure that everything works here,"

he adds. To tap into the growing Mice market, local hotels have expanded and modernised facilities, and stepped up training of event-focused professionals. "We see that demand for Mice specialists in Hong Kong is growing," Wai says. "At Shangri-La, upgrading our facilities and services for events is an ongoing process."

The Mira Hong Kong also aims to expand its business in the Mice sector, Fok says. "We are expanding our events and catering teams, and are looking for bright, service-oriented individuals with a sense of initiative and "polished" people skills."


Room for more

  • Given the improved business prospects and opening of new hotels, coupled with the drive to upgrade service standards, many hotels have stepped up recruitment in recent months
  • The hotel sector faces competition for service-oriented professionals from industries such as banking and property management
  • Most job openings are for positions from entry level to middle management
  • To tap into the Mice market, hotels are increasing their event-focused workforce

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