luxury industry

November 24, 2023 •

5 min reading

Behind the scenes: How luxury hotels take care of their staff

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“Staff shortages in the hospitality industry are a lurking issue that can drastically affect the quality of a business and the experiences guests receive. In an era of unparalleled challenges, luxury hotels are particularly hard hit. This article delves into how these premium institutions are prioritizing their staff’s well-being and professional growth to combat the current labor shortages. Welcome to the compelling universe of luxury hotel staff management!”

Staff management challenges in luxury hospitality

The hospitality sector has never been more competitive, particularly in the upper echelons where luxury hotels compete for discerning clients who demand a luxury lifestyle and nothing less than perfection. With the advent of the pandemic and its aftermath, a new crisis has reared its head - staff shortages.

In middle-level hotels, where services are often standardized, the impact might be less devastating. But luxury hotels are an entirely different ball game. In luxury hotels, staff members aren't just employees; they're artisans of experience. Trained meticulously in attention to detail, emotional intelligence, multicultural sensitivity, and luxury brand management, they go beyond routine tasks to offer highly personalized service. Specialized skill sets, ranging from sommelier expertise to local art knowledge, elevate the guest experience from excellent to extraordinary.

Adaptability and lifelong learning form the backbone of career development in luxury hospitality. Staff must be quick to adapt to emerging trends and technologies, which is why receiving support for continuous education and professional development is essential. The high standard of service is not just about meeting expectations but exceeding them. This is particularly crucial when dealing with high-end clients, often demanding a commitment to discretion and confidentiality, especially with high-profile guests. A comprehensive approach to staff development underscores this commitment to excellence that sets luxury hotels apart from their competitors.

Great luxury hotel staff & service from the guest perspective

In a luxury hotel, every staff member plays an intricate role in the guest’s experience. The front desk receptionist who welcomes you is often the first point of contact, setting the tone for your entire stay. What distinguishes luxury hotels is the depth and breadth of service, personalized to the unique needs of each guest.

When you call room service for breakfast, they remember you’re lactose intolerant and suggest a dairy-free smoothie. When you return to your room in the evening, you find your favorite magazine on the coffee table. This is no accident but the result of a dedicated and well-trained staff.

To consistently provide a high level of customer service for the demanding luxury market, luxury hotel staff members need more than just training, they need support for their wellbeing. This recent series of articles on workplace wellbeing provide plenty of evidence that having a happy and healthy staff is the best way to get good results in any business sector. In the luxury sector, this means they will be better prepared to resist the stress of daily challenges, fulfill the guest's explicit requests, and anticipate needs guests might not even be aware of.

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Changes in luxury staff attitude: time to face the truth

The labor shortage has had a broad impact across multiple industries. However, unlike sectors that can offshore tasks or rely heavily on automation, luxury hotels are faced with the challenge of maintaining a high level of personal service.

The ongoing labor shortage is reshaping the hospitality industry in profound ways, including the quest for an ideal work environment. Since the hospitality industry suffers from a difficult reputation, many workers are changing sectors and opting for part-time work, leaving luxury hotels scrambling to fill roles traditionally occupied by seasoned full-time professionals.

In response, luxury hotels are rethinking their employee retention strategies by focusing on flexible operational structures, employee satisfaction schemes, and well-being initiatives.

Seven strategies for success in luxury hotel staff management

Retaining skilled staff is an enormous challenge, particularly in the luxury hospitality sector where the expectations are stratospherically high. To combat this, luxury hotels are implementing "strategies for success" that go beyond competitive salaries, which serve as the baseline but are frequently insufficient to retain the best talents.

Here are a few examples of the ways that luxury hotels are getting creative and offering a diverse range of benefits aimed at nurturing and keeping their most valued asset—their employees.

  • Improve mental health: The emotional toll of maintaining a façade of perfection is heavy. To address this, luxury hotels offer mental health programs that include therapy sessions, wellness retreats, and in-house counselors. Well-being in luxury hospitality is a 360-degree endeavor; you can't expect staff to offer top-notch service if they are emotionally drained.
  • Offer career paths: Promotion is not the only thing that counts in a career. Many luxury hotels offer sponsored courses, further education plans, and opportunities for departmental rotation to help employees develop a more well-rounded skill set. Career paths in luxury hotels are increasingly diverse, offering multiple avenues for employee development.
  • Promote ownership: Offering a stake in the company is a powerful way to say, 'you’re important to us.' Some luxury hotel chains now offer ESOPs as part of their retention strategy. When employees are shareholders, they take ownership in the most literal sense, thus contributing to the overall growth and legacy of the hotel.
  • Create a sense of purpose: To keep employees engaged and purpose-driven, several luxury brands have even started community involvement programs to help staff feel a sense of purpose beyond their daily roles.
  • Focus on financial well-being: Recognizing that financial stress can significantly impact employee performance, luxury hotels are introducing financial well-being programs as part of their commitment to a luxury lifestyle for both guests and staff. These may include seminars on wealth management, tax planning, and even investment advice. When an employee doesn’t have to worry about their finances, they can focus more clearly on their job, thereby providing a higher level of service.
  • Self-design the benefits: Who knows what employees want better than the employees themselves? Some luxury hotels now allow staff to design their own benefit packages within a specified budget. This approach gives employees a voice in their own well-being, letting them choose everything from the type of healthcare benefits they receive to the wellness programs that best suit their needs.
  • Do community outreach: many luxury hotels now encourage community involvement, whether it be beach clean-ups or volunteering at local shelters. This not only fosters a sense of greater purpose among employees but also cultivates a team-building environment outside the confines of the hotel.

Navigating the luxury hospitality landscape has always been akin to steering a ship through a sea full of icebergs. The challenges are monumental, but the rewards for those who navigate them successfully are even greater. Backed by decades of research and educational excellence, the industry is uniquely positioned to guide the next generation through these challenges, equipping them with the practical skills and academic rigor needed to succeed in this dynamic field.

With innovations in staff management and employee well-being, luxury hotels are poised not only to survive the current labor shortages but thrive in the years to come.

The industry is committed to preparing the next generation of leaders to navigate these choppy waters successfully.

Are you ready to be part of this exciting and rewarding industry? Join EHL Graduate School’s new Luxury Management Specialization Program and elevate your career to the next level.