With 1 out of 10 jobs currently supported by the Travel and Tourism industry, 9.9% of global employment, it’s evident that this is one of the world’s largest economic sectors. In fact, according to The Economic Impact of Travel and Tourism research for 2018 conducted by the World Travel and Tourism Council, “it is estimated that nearly 100 million new jobs could be created over the decade ahead”.
The tourism market is growing rapidly and the need for talented employees in our industry will keep increasing accordingly.
Countries such as Switzerland, where the hotel and tourism market is mature, will have to attract talented people in a multitude of ways. At the moment, most industries are competing for the same employees, the same skills, and given that working conditions in the hospitality industry may not always seem attractive, students from hospitality schools often choose a different career path.
This means that hoteliers need to be proactive and learn how to attract new talent to come and work at their hotel in the future, as offer will surpass demand. This will not be an easy process as working at a hotel often means working long hours, on weekends, in remote places and so on.
Furthermore, with tourism in Asia booming and consequently requiring an increasing number of talented employees, those who want to have a career in this industry and progress rapidly will prefer to work there. This increases the difficulties for the Swiss hotel market, and hoteliers need to start investing and renewing their reservoir of talented people urgently.
Looking at these figures and at a time of an unprecedented crisis in the hotel industry, what remains of these forecasts? We can observe two types of companies: the ones that are suffering and the others that are thriving in these uncertain times. It is now necessary to review the figures concerning labor demand for hospitality in the near future. What remains is that COVID-19 served as an accelerator for the implementation of innovation in domains s
uch as digital, education, cost control… pushing us to rethink how we do things.
How can Swiss hotels handle this issue?
The retention and acquisition of talented employees are going to be critical in the future of the hotel industry. The first step for industry professionals is to acknowledge this issue and try to conceptualize new, innovative ways of attracting talent to work for them in the future: finding and offering incentives other than money is one example. Imagine a talented person who has been offered the option to work at Google in Zurich or at a hotel in Interlaken. Chances are, they will likely choose to work for the former which benefits from a string company culture, attractive benefits and a buzzing location.
Therefore, it’s essential for a hotelier in Interlaken to know how to find the right people who are not only prepared to stay in Interlaken but also be enthusiastic about working in such a beautiful environment. Offering incentives for employees to stay long-term is another crucial point. This is something that every hotelier should invent for themselves, as everyone will come up with a different formula that best serves their own business and ideal employees.
Innovative incentives for employees
When competing for talent in a highly competitive environment, there are infinite possibilities to offer innovative incentives that will be attractive, and that’s why any entrepreneur needs to remain forward-thinking and upgrade their business regularly. The start-up company Hotelswaps.com is basically a hotel room exchange program allowing owners and operators of high-quality hotels to swap their empty rooms for free stays in hotels worldwide. Everyone knows that there are vacant rooms in many hotels but nothing had been done about it until now. Hotel managers and operators can use this service to offer their employees rewards in the form of free stays at great hotels worldwide.
This is an excellent idea because these young people love to travel in style but may not have the means, and it provides them with an opportunity to experience firsthand the quality service and experience they work towards all year round. What this start-up company has done is to pull all the rooms of participating hotels that are not used during a specific period and put them into a matching device. Based on this matching device, hoteliers can send their employees who are on vacation to stay in stylish hotels all around the globe. In this way, someone who works in Interlaken can go to Barcelona or London and stay in a very nice room, offered for free by their employer. Being able to stay in 4- and 5-star hotels during your travels is a very nice perk for all employees.
Using those empty hotel rooms as a way to give a great incentive to your employees is a very clever idea for hoteliers, as these rooms are not available to everyone. On top of that, hotel owners also benefit from receiving these industry guests, since they generate additional revenue in the form of room upgrades, additional room stays booked, F&B and other services such as spa and room service.
The main asset of Swiss hoteliers
The main asset of Switzerland, and consequently of Swiss hoteliers, is pure water and air: it’s magic and we need to defend that. Imagine being a talented manager working in Beijing where you cannot go out and run because of the pollution and one day you arrive in a place like Switzerland where you can breathe fresh air and have an incredible quality of life - this is a life-changing experience. Why would you choose to live anywhere else when you can have such a great quality of life?
At the same time, water in Switzerland is pure and drinkable in most places. These two basic but vital elements, water and air, are of paramount importance to our everyday life, yet they are not widely available in other countries around the world.
With 3 Swiss cities among the top 10 worldwide for Quality of Life (Mercer Quality of Life City Rankings 2019), Zurich, Geneva and Basel, Switzerland has legitimate claims in attracting and retaining a talented workforce. The fundamental standards of natural environment, economic growth, stability, safety, quality education, and so on are strong arguments to encourage long term engagement.
Now more than ever there is a need for hoteliers to attract and retain talented employees for their businesses. Offering incentives that provide value to an employee’s life should be a priority for every entrepreneur.