Hiring Outlook: 4 Emerging Jobs in Hotel ManagementFebruary 28, 2014 by Taylor Short
With today’s shifting hospitality landscape, managers have much more to manage: new marketing channels such as online travel agencies, relationships with third parties from outsourced operations, and a deluge of data to decipher, both external (e.g. customer data) and internal (e.g. employee data).
All of these new areas of attention are pushing industry executives to rethink hiring practices to find people who can fill the need at their hotel. In some cases, existing hospitality positions are being expanded to include new responsibilities. In other cases, entirely new positions are being created to keep up with ever-changing demands.
If you’re planning your hotel’s hiring strategy, here’s what you need to know about these positions and responsibilities and how they can benefit you in the future.
Dr. Bruce Tracey, a professor at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, says analysis of internal data reflecting employee performance is a new area in which hotels are investing. This kind of information can help hospitality brands of all sizes determine the effectiveness of specific employees, departments and other operational aspects in order to make quicker, more appropriate business decisions. For example, what positions to hire for, or whether a certain position is effective.
“Companies have been doing versions of [workforce analysis], but the magnitude and scope is increasing,” Tracey says. “A key metric could be, for example, how long it takes to fill key open positions, and in some markets, that’s a big predictor of whether that company is going to have problems with involuntary turnover in the future.” The data your hotel collects on these internal metrics, he says, can help you improve or rethink certain roles and duties or recruiting and hiring practices.
The role of collecting and analyzing a hotel’s operational data could be handled by a human resources (HR) professional who has data analysis experience (or can figure it out). However, some hotels may choose to hire a designated analyst to perform this extra duty. The day-to-day responsibilities of this role could include examining the effectiveness of human resource policies, payroll processes and even the hotel’s entire organizational structure to discover what’s working and what isn’t. Hotel managers and executives can then use this information to make well-informed decisions about what needs to change.
Guest Data Analyst
Another big source of data is what guests provide before, during and after their stay. Guests’ opinions of your hotel have moved beyond simple comment cards: On the Internet, for better or worse, consumers are more than willing to share honest, detailed and specific comments about their experiences. Further data can be gleaned from scouring social media or by analyzing guest purchases made at the hotel property. Hotels can use this information constructively by hiring a guest data analyst, who can identify trends in customer behavior and preferences to help create smarter marketing strategies.
“Large companies are all collecting customer satisfaction data regularly,” says Dr. Haemoon Oh, department head and professor at the Isenberg School of Management’s Hospitality and Tourism department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “But collecting data doesn’t mean anything; you have to translate that data into operational results.”
Oh says the guest data analysis position will be a high-paying and highly-sought-after job in the future. The main function is to help management understand what all this data means so that they can make more well-informed decisions. This position requires deep analytical, mathematical and critical-thinking skills; the necessary communication skills to present and explain analyses to executives; and precise attention to detail.
Tracey says that many hotels could even use someone with high-level computer programming skills, in addition to analytical skills, to create computerized solutions that can aid in making sense of the data. This position has the opportunity to grow in a number of ways, he explains, and the more your hotel can invest in analytics technology, the more effective your data analyst will be.
The recent economic downturn forced many hotels to shed portions of their workforce, outsourcing departments such as food and beverage and housekeeping to more affordable, third-party companies. But despite the fact that many hotels have now recovered enough economically to bring these functions back in-house, managers are realizing that outsourcing has benefits beyond the bottom line.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts, for example, outsourced its own restaurant at the W Hotel in Union Square to famed chef Todd English, who has developed it into Olives Restaurant. Starwood also outsourced the bar at the W Hotel New York to nightlife developer the Gerber Group, which created the bar Whisky Blue. By teaming up with a name that is already popular, hotels can mitigate some of the risk involved in developing a new restaurant brand and building its customer base. And as more of these partnerships are formed, hotels need someone to oversee the corresponding contracts.
Departments that are typically outsourced include food and beverage, housekeeping, facility maintenance, landscaping and valet parking services. Hotels that outsource require a person who can handle the complex task of contract administration with multiple third-party companies. This role demands strong communication skills, an ability to multi-task and some legal or business administration experience. Negotiation skills are also useful, as well as a knowledge of labor unions (if applicable).
The responsibility of contract administration is becoming more significant, Tracey says, though not quite enough for its own position yet. Contract administration could be handled by an executive, such as a controller or finance director, a hotel manager or, in some cases, even a director of HR or sales.
Hotels rely on online travel agencies (OTAs), such as Expedia.com and Travelocity.com, because they expose the hotel’s brand to millions of additional potential customers and bookings through OTAs are continuing to increase. Hotels are also opening new revenue sources through self-service technology: for example, marketing and up-selling opportunities on mobile apps, lobby touchscreens and hotel websites.
These new digital sales channels require the attention of a revenue manager, who can analyze and help grow their contributions to a hotel’s profit margins. Setting daily room rates, following market trends, managing online sales channels and providing accurate rate forecasts for general managers and owners are their primary responsibilities. These tasks are often handled by a designated revenue manager, but could also be folded into the duties of another position, such as a financial officer or sales director.
“Revenue management is kind of a new practice for the industry,” Oh says. “And revenue managers are becoming more important these days as the competition [for sales] gets tougher. They try to bring in every dollar they can generate and provide the optimal pricing for the demand level.”
Revenue managers should be skilled in business and market analytics and accounting, and must be highly attentive to detail. In addition, these professionals need a creative mind and a critical eye in order to identify new revenue possibilities and re-imagine operational standards that affect the hotel’s bottom line.
These new responsibilities and positions are becoming more important in operating a competitive and successful hotel. The hospitality industry is changing, and by incorporating these new positions and responsibilities, hotels can remain competitive and thrive. Look to hire people who can help carry your brand into the future.