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Room at the inn for talent
Published on Friday, 04 Mar 2011
Mazy Cheung
Callan Anderson
Diana Chik says hotel chains, such as Langham, offer good careers to young people.

The hotel industry has seen an increase in recruitment, with new hotels and serviced apartments snapping up experienced professionals.

Mazy Cheng, director of human resources at InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong, says recently opened hotels and serviced apartments are recruiting for positions that include supervisors and managers.

"There has been an intensifying competition for high-quality, service-oriented talents," Cheng says. "However, the stronger demand has not had much impact on us. The turnover rate [of staff at supervisory level or above] has been negligible."

Diana Chik, director of human resources at Langham Hotels International, says some hotels that postponed their recruitment last year have resumed hiring in recent months, while others have increased headcount ahead of expected business growth. New hotels attract experienced managers from other hotels by paying them higher salaries.

Callan Anderson, group general manager of Gemini Personnel, believes there has been more movement of hotel staff at management and middle-management levels. But he believes there isn't a shortage of hotel managers in Hong Kong.

"Many hotels recruit experienced professionals from abroad to fill senior management positions," he says. "International hotel chains rotate senior managers among their hotels. Some managers get promoted by moving to other hotels in the same group."

Despite stronger demand, salary levels for hotel staff at management level has been steady compared with the corresponding period last year, Anderson says. "I do not think hotels in Hong Kong are willing to offer huge pay rises or other incentives for general staff." 

Cheng says salaries in the industry have seen an average increase of 3 per cent, and the hotel has made adjustments in line with the market.

"We conduct salary benchmarking surveys regularly to ensure that our remuneration packages are competitive," she says.

Chik says the hotel has made annual salary increases this year and last year. The average rise is 3 per cent, with the amount based on performance.

Over the past few years, Chik says, hotel professionals at supervisory level or above have been sought after by other sectors such as banking, property management, retailing and insurance.

According to Anderson, a few large multinational corporations in Hong Kong have recruited professionals with extensive experience in concierge or hotel-type services to manage their private clubs.

However, he adds that there has been less intense competition for Hong Kong hotel managers from the hospitality industry in other tourist destinations in the region, such as Macau.

Some hotels and casinos in Macau employ Hong Kong managers or other Cantonese-speaking managers from other cities in Guangdong province, he says.

"Few managers in Hong Kong are willing to work in Macau, particularly those with families. There is no fierce competition for talents," Anderson says.


Missing Gneration

Young people are snubbing operational roles at Hong Kong hotels despite good career prospects

Hotels in Hong Kong have found it ever more challenging to attract career-minded members of Generation Y - those born in the 1980s and early 1990s.

The need to work night shifts and public holidays are among the factors deterring young people from entering the hotel industry, says Diana Chik, director of human resources at Langham Hotels International. "The turnover rate among [younger staff] is relatively higher."

Mazy Cheng, director of human resources at InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong, says Gen Yers are less attracted to junior positions, such as bell attendant, compared with older generations.

Chik says Langham takes part in the career day held by local universities every year to try to attract young professionals.

"We find that many graduates don't want to work in the operational divisions of a hotel. They are more interested in departments such as sales and marketing and human resources," she says.

In contrast, graduates from the Institute of Vocational Education are more willing to work in junior positions in operations such as food and beverage and housekeeping, Chik says.

Cheng says there is an adequate supply of graduates for front-desk roles, but less so for some operational positions, such as duty engineer, adding that university graduates join InterContinental Grand Stanford at entry-level positions.

"With their qualifications, their careers may move more quickly than others," she says. "But ultimately it is their performance that counts."

Cheng adds that the hotel helps its employees identify their long-term career goals. "We tailor career development plans for individual employees to match their interests."

Chik says a fast-growing hotel chain, such as Langham, offers its staff plenty of opportunities in career development, thanks to its "promotion from within" policy.

"We expect to double our scale of operations worldwide in the next several years by opening a dozen new hotels. The focus of growth is on the mainland and other countries in Asia such as India and Thailand," she says.